NBC4 Washington’s Jummy Olabanji is at Home on the Air

It’s quiet in NBC4 Washington’s studio as Jummy Olabanji sits behind the desk, ready for the Today present anchors to toss to associates. The automated digicam strikes into place — however the house actually springs to life when Olabanji warmly greets viewers and offers them a neighborhood information replace.

Olabanji has been co-anchoring the station’s weekday 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. newscast, News4 Today, for almost 5 years now, since shifting again to the world after a three-year stint at sister station NBC New York, within the nation’s high media market. But the journalist isn’t any stranger to the DC space. She labored mornings for WJLA, Channel 7, for eight years earlier than taking her place in New York — and he or she grew up in Northern Virginia.

“New York City is an unimaginable place to work, however I missed residence nearly instantly,” Olabanji says. “When Channel 4 right here referred to as and mentioned, ‘Hey, we’d like to speak to you about a chance. Would you ever come again residence?’ After three years in New York, I used to be prepared.” 

It was a homecoming for an additional motive, too: Olabanji was an intern for NBC4 Washington when she attended Virginia Tech. 

Now, as she turns 40, she’s joyful to be dwelling in DC along with her husband, faith reporter Darren Sands, and close to her mom, who resides in Loudoun County, and her sister, who works in Tysons. (Her brother lives in New York and visits incessantly.) As she marks her five-year anniversary on this place in July, she’ll cowl the Summer Olympics in Paris for the NBC affiliate.

Jummy Olabanji behind news desk
Photo by Michael Butcher

In Front of the Camera

Jummy Olabanji hadn’t all the time dreamed of a profession on digicam — however when the chance offered itself, she was prepared for it.

She was born in Toronto, and her household moved to NoVA for her mom’s job when Olabanji was about 9 years outdated. She grew up within the Sully Station space of Centreville and attended faculties in Chantilly, becoming a member of a efficiency choir at Stone Middle School. She continued that in her two years at Chantilly High School, then at Westfield High School. She was a member of the primary graduating class from Westfield, additionally in Chantilly.

“I used to be all the time form of a stage child, you realize, touring to all of the dance competitions on weekends and all of the outfit adjustments and recitals,” she says. (Her dance studio was on the Fairfax County Government Center and has since moved to Gainesville.) 

Once she began working in broadcast journalism, individuals would usually ask her if she was nervous being on air, however she says her efficiency background made it simple. “I’m like, ‘No, as a result of after I was 5, I used to be faucet dancing on phases.’ And so, I’ve all the time simply beloved being round individuals, in entrance of individuals.”

She paired that love of performing along with her curiosity in photojournalism and writing. In highschool, she was a member of the yearbook, newspaper, and literary journal.

“When I bought to Virginia Tech, I began as a junior employees author for the Collegiate Times. I used to be into print. I needed to do magazines. I believed I used to be going to get a New York City internship. You know, go work at like, Cosmo or Marie Claire, that form of factor — Ebony,” she says. She was dissatisfied when she wasn’t chosen for these internships, and that was when her school adviser, Dale Jenkins, steered she apply for an internship at a TV station, saying it will assist her develop into well-versed within the journalism discipline. So, she took a broadcast writing course and bought an internship on the Roanoke TV station. Later, she landed her internship at NBC4 Washington.

Familiar Face

Today, her place as an anchor in her hometown permits her to mix her expertise in broadcast journalism along with her familiarity with the DMV.

“I feel it’s such a bonus to have anchors who’re from the world working within the space, as a result of once we discuss communities and what’s impacting our communities, whether or not it’s schooling, whether or not it’s crime, transportation, infrastructure, site visitors — these are the communities we stay in,” says Olabanji’s colleague and good friend Eun Yang. Yang, who grew up in Maryland, was Olabanji’s first co-anchor on the NBC4 Washington morning newscast. Last 12 months, Yang shifted to the evenings and Olabanji was joined by Tony Perkins on the anchor desk.

“Those are our neighbors, like actually, the place we grew up, and folks we all know and the lecturers who’re nonetheless instructing in our faculties, and so we care concerning the neighborhood in a private and direct method,” Yang says. “The incontrovertible fact that Jummy is from Northern Virginia — once we’re speaking a couple of explicit college or explicit neighborhood or explicit challenge impacting a sure a part of Northern Virginia, she is aware of what she’s speaking about. She’s walked these halls and been on the streets, and I really feel like that undoubtedly offers you a bonus as a result of we’re attempting to inform impactful tales. … When you’re related to the individuals, she desires to be sure that she’s doing proper by them and their tales.”

Olabanji says when she sees viewers out in public, they have a tendency to fall into two camps: A bunch who watches her from a distance, pondering she appears to be like acquainted and asks if it’s actually her; and those that really feel so related after seeing her of their dwelling rooms each morning that they’ll method her as in the event that they already know her personally. “I adore it all. It’s simply so form,” she says. “I really like assembly individuals. I simply wish to know, ‘Where do you reside? Where are you watching from?’”

A Challenging Schedule

That approachable character is vital in a morning information anchor, says Yang. “I feel she communicates in a method that’s pure and comfy,” Yang says. “Especially within the mornings, you’re inviting individuals into your property at an intimate time. And Jummy is somebody you wish to have a cup of espresso with, you realize, spill the tea with, and have a dialog with. I really feel like she has a depth of data on so many various pursuits and topics which are occurring on this planet, however she is going to simply additionally discuss Beyoncé and her new hit. … It’s a lot enjoyable to have the ability to work with somebody whom you belief as a journalist but in addition like as an individual.”

Yang says she and Olabanji clicked instantly. “As quickly as we began working collectively within the morning, we had been quick pals, straight away, chatting throughout breaks, hanging out after work,” Yang says. “I take into account her good friend. Now, despite the fact that we’re not working the identical schedule, I nonetheless discuss to her on a regular basis.”

Having labored mornings for greater than 10 years herself, Yang emphasizes how “grueling” it’s to need to get up each weekday by 2:30 a.m. “I don’t know methods to clarify how troublesome it’s to do this schedule. You’re getting up in the midst of the evening. Even if you happen to had been to sleep the hours you wish to sleep, it’s simply not regular. Your physique is continually in a state of stunning fatigue. And Jummy does a lot work for the neighborhood, and he or she’s not searching for the highlight.”

Jummy Olabanji
Photo by Michael Butcher

Taking the Lead

Yang and others on the station needed to ensure Olabanji was acknowledged on the air after she was honored final 12 months by a bunch that’s near her coronary heart, the National Kidney Foundation. The group gave Olabanji the Leadership in Action Award. 

“She’s not searching for credit score. She’s simply [working in the community] as a result of she is aware of it’s vital and he or she desires to provide again to the neighborhood,” Yang says.

Olabanji, who has a grasp’s diploma in communication and management research from Gonzaga University, is on the kidney basis’s board of administrators and has been working with the group for greater than 10 years. Her mom, who labored in particular schooling for Fairfax County Public Schools till she retired in June 2020, obtained a kidney transplant in November 2020. “She’s battled a genetic type of kidney illness for a few years, in order that’s how my household bought concerned,” Olabanji says. Her mom couldn’t have any relations on the hospital as a consequence of COVID-19 protocols on the time, so all they might do was drop her off there. “She bought the decision, like two days earlier than Thanksgiving. So, she spent Thanksgiving on the hospital, nevertheless it’s simply been superb. And it simply made me such an even bigger proponent of … individuals signing as much as be organ donors.”

She additionally works intently along with her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, which is the primary traditionally Black sorority, based in 1908 at Howard University. “It permits me simply one other technique to give again to the neighborhood,” she says. “I’m a mentor to a scholar at Howard who’s an undergraduate member of the sorority, and he or she’s a journalism main at Howard. I’ll assist her navigate and apply for internships. She graduates in May, so she’s able to get on the market and get her first job. I’m simply capable of form of give her recommendation and information her. It’s been a ton of enjoyable.”

Going to the Games

Next up, Olabanji is trying ahead to bringing her native perspective to the Summer Games, together with groups from seven different NBC sister stations. 

“It’s particular for thus many causes. Obviously, being born in Toronto — till I moved right here, I used to be in French immersion college. I’m not bilingual or something like that. But that was certainly one of my first languages,” she says.

Another motive? She and her husband are wine connoisseurs who’re trying ahead to spending time in Paris. “I’m an enormous wine lover. Not simply informal, like, ‘I’m going to order wine as a result of we’re at dinner.’ My husband and I acquire wine. We’ve gone on trip to a lot of the main wine areas, like we’ve been to Burgundy and to Bordeaux.” (They additionally like to take a look at Virginia wineries in Middleburg and Leesburg once they go to her mother in Loudoun.)

But these connections are simply the icing on the cake. “I simply love the Olympics,” she says.

Now, she’s on the point of make the month-long journey and can have firm from her husband, mom, sister, and brother whereas she’s there. 

“Work goes rather well — nice alternatives,” she says. “I simply actually really feel nice about turning 40 this 12 months. I don’t know what else is on the horizon for this 12 months. But I’m claiming that it’s simply going to be an incredible 12 months.”

Feature picture of Jummy Olabanji by Michael Butcher

This story initially ran in our April challenge. For extra tales like this, subscribe to Northern Virginia Magazine.

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