Clerkley is a reporter and anchor for the Pensacola, Florida, bureau of station WKRG. He covers northwest Florida.
“It’s definitely been a whirlwind experience.”
Studying abroad in college
Traveling is Clerkley’s passion, so he chose a language degree. He studied away in Ecuador and Costa Rica while he was an MSU student, living with host families both times.
“You would talk to them in Spanish, and it was part of the experience.”
He took classes and went on excursions. “In Costa Rica, we went to see volcanoes. We went to different towns across the country. We went to Nicaragua. We went to Panama. We traveled to different beach towns and historical monuments. Those were amazing, amazing experiences.”
Anchoring the news at MSU
He was also a broadcast journalism major. Erika Brame, a ’10 and ’13 alumna who works as a new media specialist at MSU, was his instructor for a course that examined media responses and theories.
“He was so outspoken and such a fun student to have, even in a Friday 8 a.m. class! He asked really good, critical questions that others might not. He was not afraid to speak his mind, and was that extra voice when it was time to gut-check something. He’s very ethical in his work.”
Clerkley became an anchor and reporter for “Ozarks News Journal.” This weekly half-hour news magazine was produced by media, journalism and film students.
“I found stories across campus that I thought would matter to people. I would write them, edit them, film them and then turn it into a news package. Then I would anchor the news.”
It was Clerkley’s first experience with the business.
“I always thought that maybe I would want to host my own TV show, or eventually get into media,” he said, and now he had an avenue to pursue that dream.
Reporting the news from Saipan
After graduation, he became a journalist for a station in Illinois. But travel was still calling his name. He was surfing a TV jobs website when he saw an opening in Saipan. That island has a mix of cultures, including Pacific Islander, Filipino, Chinese and Korean.
“I applied for it, and they called me, and we did a Skype interview.”
KSPN2 News Saipan offered him a year-long position.
“I was a solo anchor for a lot of the time, so I would report and anchor. It was sort of like my own show. It was a lot of responsibility, but I really got to take control.”
He covered topics such as human trafficking, contract disputes and a projected labor shortage.
“Everyone came from different countries, and a lot of people did not speak English as their first language. That was your community, and you always had to be culturally sensitive to the topic that you were reporting on.”
In his spare time, he did even more traveling: He’s been to Hong Kong, Japan, Papua New Guinea, Guam and many other islands.
Considering his next move
In fall 2017, Clerkley started working at his current position in Florida. His mom comes to visit from the St. Louis area, and he keeps other ties to home.
But he’s open to trying even more new places.
“I’m always big on taking risks, and I feel like I’ve taken a lot of them,” he said, starting with transferring to MSU from his first college.
“I’ve lived in three different places in the last three years. I’m sort of a big city guy. I’ve always wanted to live in either New York or Chicago.”
That may be as a reporter, or in a new career. He believes in journalism and he breaks big stories.
But he also struggles with living away from family and friends, dealing with people who dislike him based on skepticism about the media, and automatically being a public figure — whether he wants to be or not.
“I don’t know what my future holds, exactly. My dream job would be with a big corporation — a brand that I believe in that does good things and cares about its employees and people,” he said. “I had a lot of opportunity at Missouri State, and I found my place there eventually. It’s prepared me for whatever’s next.”