TV's a family business for Dan Bowens
Posted June 23, 2009 7:25 a.m. EDT
Dan Bowens was still in his mother’s womb when he first visited a TV station. Now a reporter at WRAL, he is carrying on the family tradition of working in the fast-paced news business.
Most notably, he is the stepson of Byron Pitts who works as a contributor for 60 Minutes and is the chief national correspondent for The CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.
“I have known Byron since I was in high school. That was a little more than 10 years ago. He and my mother got married after my freshman year of college,” said Dan. “Being able to look up to someone like Byron, who's had to work incredibly hard for everything he's achieved, is an inspiration.”
Dan comes from a long line of journalists. His grandfather was an anchor at a Los Angeles TV station, his father is a video tape editor and his mom was a producer. His brother, Ben, is an online editor at CBS 3 in Philadelphia.
“I would say everyone, including Byron, had a big role in my and my brother’s decision to get into the journalism business,” said Dan.
His family inspired him with support and a lot of tough love.
“When I was leaving for my senior year at Ohio Wesleyan, Byron met me at the door. He shook my hand and said 'Daniel, congratulations. We're all very proud of you.' Then he gave me a hug, looked me in the eye and added, 'But you're NOT allowed back in this house for more than two weeks at a time. You need to get a job. Good luck,’” Dan recalled. “My brother got the same speech … tough love. I think we've both been understandably inspired to find a way to pay rent ever since.”
Dan says he landed his first TV job because of Byron, but not because his stepdad pulled any strings.
While Dan was in college at Ohio Wesleyan, Bryon was dodging bullets in Afghanistan while working for CBS. Penny Moore, a local reporter at a Columbus TV station, found out about Dan’s connection to Byron and she asked to do a story about the family.
“Penny found out I was Byron's stepson while he was covering the war after 9-11. She came to my dorm room at OWU and interviewed me about going to class and then watching Byron's adventures with the Taliban,” said Dan. “Anyway, I got her number before she left and SHE eventually hooked me up with an internship at WBNS-TV. I worked there as a video-tape editor. After working there for about a year, I got my first reporting job in Walla Walla, Wash.”
Several years later, Dan and Byron led a journalism workshop at a college in New York. Something Byron said at that workshop has stuck with Dan.
“He told the class, ‘There are probably several people in this room who are smarter than me,’” Dan recalled. “This is the National Correspondent at CBS News telling this to a group of 19 and 20 year olds. He went on, 'Several of you get better grades than I ever could get' Then, he said, 'But I guarantee no one in this class works harder than I do. I'll get to work earlier stay later and practice longer.’”
Byron passed along the lesson of work hard, stay humble and rewards will come.
“Though he wasn't saying it to me, it's something I think about when I'm having a tough day,” said Dan. “Both Byron and my father have a strong work ethic. My dad works two jobs, barely sleeps, but never complains! I love them both very much.”
But Dan says the true leader of the news family is his mother.
“Byron won't like this one, but come on!! Everyone knows Lyne Pitts is the boss,” said Dan. “She's my mom, Byron's wife, and without her we'd probably all be lost!”