KHOU-TV’s Producer in Residence Briahn Hawkins is a nonbinary journalist who uses the high-profile local platform to uplift LGBTQ people.
“I pay extra attention to the transgender and gender-nonconforming community because it’s still a new voice that people either haven’t listened to or actively ignore,” says Hawkins, who uses they/them pronouns.
They want to cover more stories related to LGBTQ people and strengthen KHOU-11’s connection to the community beyond June Pride Month because, in their words, “Pride Month is every month, every day, every second, every moment.”
As a producer in residence, Hawkins writes stories for the station, takes notes during news conferences, and pitches stories. Although they mainly work in TV production and writing, Hawkins helps co-produce shows by pairing visuals with audio. They also go over stories with the anchors, making sure the newscasters are familiar with the content before airtime.
“It depends on the day,” Hawkins says. “My position is all over the place. We could produce for television, digital, or switch over to the marketing side of news.”
In June, they reviewed a script for a story about Q-Patrol, a Montrose volunteer group that was formed to protect members of the LGBTQ community after the brutal 1991 murder of Paul Broussard, a gay man who died after suburban teenagers attacked him outside a Houston nightclub.
“Up until that point, I had never heard about it,” the Houston native notes. “It was nice to read the script and see that [LGBTQ Houston history] come to life.”
Hawkins has always loved storytelling, and they found their calling in journalism at Trinity University in San Antonio. While they pursued a bachelor’s degree in communication and theater, they joined Trinity’s campus television station and discovered a passion for broadcasting.
“I thought doing TV would be more of a hobby,” Hawkins admits. “A few years later, I fell in love with working in TV because of all the magic.”
They loved conducting research for the campus TV station and figuring out how to write stories that viewers could understand and enjoy. They also loved giving others the spotlight to share personal experiences. “I wanted to be the platform people can use to speak out. I’m a human megaphone.”
Hawkins cemented their decision to become a journalist and platform for others during senior year, when they created a mini documentary about the experiences of Black students at Trinity. Hawkins wanted to capture the issues Black students faced, as well as educate people who were considering attending the college.
“It was not my intention to throw dirt on the school’s name, but to show people what it’s really like,” Hawkins notes.
After graduating in 2020, they applied to work at KHOU, Houston’s CBS network affiliate. They started working at the station right after the pandemic began, so they have only recently met their coworkers in person. Although there is a lot to learn about producing for local television, they’re excited to work in broadcast journalism.
“What I like the most about KHOU-11 is that even if we focus on a specific person, we also try to find ways to make the story helpful for all of our viewers,” Hawkins says. For example, KHOU-11 recently covered a series of stories about people who were followed home and robbed after stopping by upscale businesses such as banks. As part of these stories, KHOU-11 discussed how viewers could protect themselves if they feel they’re at risk of being assaulted.
In the future, Hawkins wants to produce a show about pop culture, to better understand what society prioritizes or neglects. “I’m obsessed with pop culture in general, because I feel like pop culture is a reflection of our society,” Hawkins says.
For now, Hawkins wants to continue helping Houstonians however they can as the city recovers from the pandemic. “I want to help people find opportunities and jobs,” Hawkins says. “I want to help get information out there as best as possible.”