Editor’s Note: This is the second of a two-part series about the 2022 inductees into the Creston High School Hall of Fame.
At 12 years old, Creston native Tiffany Murphy saved her babysitting money and purchased a camera. Before summer vacation, she interviewed her teachers and friends about their summer plans.
At 21, she was on the frontline covering wildfires in California on TV for ABC.
At 31, she spent days on the air covering Hurricane Harvey in Texas at a CBS affiliate as the tropical storm hung over their viewing area.
Now, at 36, she’s a news anchor at ABC6 in Rhode Island and one of the youngest Creston Hall of Fame inductees.
Murphy will be inducted 11 a.m. Friday into the hall of fame as a graduate of the district. Dwight and Marilyn Conover will be inducted as contributors to the school. There will be no former staff members inducted as part of this year’s ceremony.
While there’s no doubt Murphy has had success in her career, it hasn’t been without hurdles and hard work. “Nothing has been given to me,” she said. “I worked really hard.”
Getting her start
Murphy has never been one to turn down an opportunity. In 8th grade, she began reading the school announcements every day at the Burton R. Jones Middle School.
While listening to KSIB Radio, middle school secretary Joyce Kruse learned they were hiring. She recommended Murphy apply for the position. After convincing her mom to take her to the station to apply, Murphy did a read and was hired to host Trading Post Monday through Friday. After that, Murphy said she was hooked.
“What eighth grader gets a job on a live radio station?” Murphy said. “I did that everyday after school.”
Murphy was very involved in school. She participated in volleyball and cheerleading for basketball, football and wrestling. She announced some of the high school soccer games. She was active in FFA, choir, speech competitions, musicals, theater and more.
Murphy said she appreciates she was able to get amazing attention as a student in Creston. “I was able to be in drama and be in sports,” she said. “I didn’t have to choose.”
Her activities propelled her to her second job at a station in Osceola where she hosted “Murph in the Morning,” on I-98 Radio.
After graduating from Creston High School in 2005, Murphy packed up and headed across the country to Malibu, California, where she studied broadcast journalism at Pepperdine University.
Shortly after starting college, her grandma became ill. Murphy returned to Creston to care for her. Instead of taking time off from her career path, Murphy made due with what was available to her.
She found a job at Fox 17 in Des Moines as a videographer and a fill-in reporter. She covered the lead up to the 2008 presidential election where she was able to interview Mike Huckabee and former President Barack Obama before he was well known.
While working at Fox, Murphy also returned to Creston High School in 2007 to serve as an assistant coach to Loise Rose’s speech competition students.
After her grandma passed away, Murphy packed up her car and drove to Los Angeles where she continued her collegiate studies. During her sophomore year, she got an internship with an ABC station in Santa Barbara where she frequently covered wildfires.
Murphy’s thought was the internship would transition to a job at ABC after her graduation, and her career would begin. But life had other plans. In 2009, the economy crashed, and she was left without a job. “I thought my future was all mapped out at this job,” she said.
She took some time to travel the world. Murphy spent a few months in Argentina and a few months in Italy. Then, for the second time in three years, she came back to Creston. She got a job back at KSIB where her career started, but it wasn’t enough for her.
“I packed my car and moved to Vegas,” Murphy said. “I worked at a hotel. I mopped floors, did dishes, worked front desk, I was a personal assistant, I worked at a production house.”
Murphy was tenacious in her fight to get back into the industry. She found a small, family-owned news station in Laughlin, Nevada, and asked for a chance to show them what she could do.
The job as a daily news anchor and reporter in Laughlin was just the start. She continued to contact and email news directors to make her way up in the field. She was a news anchor and reporter in Missoula, Montana, and Las Vegas in the next several years.
“I think it’s about tenacity and hard work and perseverance and dedication,” she said. “I called the news director, emailed him and said I just need five minutes with you.”
In 2015, Murphy was recruited to work for a CBS affiliate in Beaumont, Texas, where she anchored the 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscast.
One of the things she loves most about being in the news business is that every day is completely different. “Throughout my career, I’ve had the opportunity to uncover massive fiscal mismanagements, misconduct from elected officials,” Murphy said. “Bad things happen to good people and that’s not fair. I’ve had the ability to right these wrongs.”
Murphy said the scariest moment of her entire career was when Hurricane Harvey hit southeast Texas. “We had six feet of rain in 24 hours,” she recalled. “911 systems were overwhelmed with callers begging to be rescued. The tropical storm hung over our viewing area.”
The station was on air 24/7 covering the storm and providing information to viewers. Viewers began calling the station directly for help when calls to 911 weren’t answered.
She recalls getting off set and answering a ringing phone. “I talked to this woman, all alone, living in a first-floor apartment,” Murphy said. “She had no electricity and there was water in her apartment. I was old enough to know really how impactful that was. People died. People were rescued off their roofs. I’m a human too, reading the news. It was hard. I was tired, I hadn’t slept for a few days.”
Murphy recalls crying after hanging up the phone. Then she had to compose herself and get back on TV to keep viewers informed.
After days at the station, Murphy finally went home late one night. Only 30 minutes after arriving home, she received a call to come back to the station because the town had no water. “There was no way for us to get water from the sinks,” she said. “It’s 2 a.m., I’m on air, and I’m like how could this have happened? I-10 was shut down. There were armed guards outside grocery stores because they hadn’t got any shipments and there was no water. That will forever leave an impact on my life.”
Murphy’s hurricane coverage earned her a Lone Star Emmy, an award that represents the most experienced and talented television professionals from all disciplines of the industry and from all of Texas’ 19 television markets. But she said she couldn’t have done it without her team working with her.
“It’s a team effort. If you don’t have everyone working together, you’re not going to win,” she said. “We were all exhausted, tired and hungry, but we gave the community life-saving information. Between my meteorologist and my whole team of people no one would ever know about - tech people, mic people, lighting, camera people, producers, there’s a whole team. Without them, none of that would have happened.”
Hall of Fame
Just last year, Murphy left her position in Texas for ABC6 in Providence, Rhode Island, where she reports and anchors the 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. broadcasts.
“I knew when I was growing up, I wanted to do what I was passionate about and have a reason every day to get out of bed,” Murphy said. “I love people and I love what I do.”
When Murphy found out she was being inducted into the Creston Hall of Fame, she said she was awe-struck. “This is such an honor,” Murphy said. “If it weren’t for CCSD, the teachers who make up the district, the people who gave me my first job, people who gave me all those opportunities, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Looking back now, Murphy said she wouldn’t change where she grew up. “It gave me an amazing head start. My mom, grandma and really the teachers - amazing teachers I still keep in touch with that went the extra mile.”