Longtime Avon Resident Makes Splash on Local TV

Kyla Russell has lived in Avon since grade school. She attended Kingsway Christian School and then Covenant Christian High School, and today she is one of the faces you see reporting the news on WISH-TV.

Her path has taken her across the country, through some major events in history. Through a series of opportunities and her hard-working nature, she’s living the journalist’s dream.

Even Russell is surprised at how things have turned out.

“I thought I might want to go into journalism, but I didn’t entirely understand what that would look like,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed storytelling. My mom says my first interview was when the washing machine broke and the handyman came over. I had a thousand questions for him at 7 years old.”

Her inquisitive nature continued throughout her childhood, but it wasn’t until Russell was navigating her senior year of high school in 2020-2021 amid a global pandemic that she knew there was something more to her storytelling ambitions.

“Everyone was keyed in on the news,” she said. “We kept talking about all the numbers and the doom and gloom, and I really wanted to see the human component to these stories.”

Before graduating high school, an internship brought Russell to Washington, D.C. She was there on January 6, during the U.S. Capitol attack.

“It’s a day you don’t forget,” she said. “It was a crazy moment. You’re witnessing the best and worst of journalism, and I could see how this work mattered. It definitely led me to really want to get serious about journalism.”

She began her freshman year at Taylor University and things just took off from there. Jumping in with both feet, Russell became the news editor for the school paper, The Echo, and a second internship in Washington, D.C., introduced her to the digital side of media – something she was able to bring back to college and implement at the paper.

As a sophomore at Taylor and editor in chief of The Echo, Russell launched a small, weekly broadcast component to the campus news.

It didn’t matter if the subject was a new local coffee shop opening or the aftermath of an attack on the U.S. Capitol; to Russell it was all important.

“At the end of the day, we’re all grown-up boys and girls that want to hear about something that matters in our community,” Russell said. “Media will always be around in some capacity and will always be necessary.”

She interned that summer with WISH-TV and was involved in covering the special legislative session, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and the mass shooting at Greenwood Park Mall.

“That was an impactful summer,” she said. “The girlfriend of the man who was dubbed the good samaritan shooter was in Columbus and no one could get a hold of her. I was convinced she had a story to tell. I convinced one of the reporters to drive down there with me. After two or three days we found her, sat down and talked, and she agreed to an on-camera interview. I think we’re the only people she’s spoken to, to date.”

That motivation and drive caused leadership at WISH-TV to notice, and led to an offer for a semester-long position with the digital news team. She knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.

“Much to my mom’s surprise, I decided to not return to Taylor,” she said. “It was a huge leap of faith and uncharted territory. I was on the assignment desk, getting experience in everything that happens in a newsroom. I covered 25 shootings that semester. The best way to learn journalism is to do it.”

By the end of the summer she had decided to transfer to Indiana University to continue in the broadcast program. An apartment lease was signed and her belongings were packed, but another opportunity caused Russell to change course once again.

“I got an internship at CNN in Atlanta and came back to work the summer at WISH-TV,” Russell said. “From there, I received an internship at NBC News for the entire school year. I was living in New York City and working at 30 Rock until April of this year.”

Every step of the way, the ambitious journalist continued taking college classes and learning everything she could about her field.

It didn’t take long before Russell had a chance encounter that brought her back home to where it all started. At a holiday party last year, Russell visited friends from WISH-TV and it led to a job offer: a three-year, on-camera contract for the Indianapolis station.

She’s still finishing her degree at IU (she’ll graduate in December) and working 70 hours a week for WISH-TV. It’s busy, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.

“It’s one of those things that in the moment it’s rough, but it’s so worth it,” she said. “I think a lot of it is a God thing. I’ve worked hard, but these opportunities that keep knocking on my door are unbelievable.”

It doesn’t hurt that she’s back in her hometown, surrounded by friends and family – a gift she didn’t anticipate any time soon.

Most young journalists get their start in smaller towns with less notoriety. She’s 10 years younger than anyone else in the newsroom, yet she’s stepped into an impressive position before even having a diploma in hand.

“It was never on my radar to start in Indy because I’ve not seen that done,” she said. “I would never assume I’d waltz into a place and get every opportunity. I assumed I’d work hard and perhaps that would be rewarded, but this is amazing.”

Most importantly, Russell is working to bring accurate, honest and interesting stories to Indianapolis, and she knows she’s made the right decision.

Kyla Russell visiting MSNBC

“I think it’s exhilarating and scary,” she said. “I tell people all the time, a lot of us are adrenaline junkies and that can manifest in a thousand different ways, but for me, the rush is getting that story, doing it well, getting it out there and knowing it’s making an impact.”

From the 7-year-old girl asking the handyman a list of questions to paving her way to broadcast media, Russell is grateful for the road she’s on.

“Indianapolis is my favorite city in the world – the best city in the world in my opinion – and the surrounding areas are home to me,” she said. “I’m so immensely grateful for Avon and central Indiana. I couldn’t name a better place to grow up. I see it every day. There are good, hard-working, loving people, and it’s the best place.”

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