Before most of us have even put dinner on the table, CBS3's Rahel Solomon is in her bed and often fast asleep. You would be, too, if you had to be up by 1 a.m. to co-anchor Eyewitness News this Morning with Jim Donovan, which starts at 4:30 a.m. (She also co-anchors with him on Eyewitness News at Noon.)
For Solomon, who grew up in West Philadelphia and Delaware County and is an Archbishop Prendergast alum, it's not a hardship. It's a dream come true. After graduating from Northwestern University, she worked at TV stations in Charleston, W. Va., and Denver before making her way back to the city where she grew up.
I chatted with the new weekday anchor about what it's like to be back home in Philly, how friends react to her lights-out-before-dark schedule, and how a standing hair appointment affects her training for long-distance runs. Solomon recently completed the Broad Street Run in 1:50:51 and is working toward the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in September and the Philadelphia Marathon in November.
How was the Broad Street Run?
It's a ton of people, but I really enjoyed it. Running along Broad Street, you see things along the way that you didn't realize were there. There were certain high schools where, I was, like, "Oh, that's where that is." You relearn your city, which is really nice.
With the half-marathon in September, I've got to get a couple more big runs under my belt. So it should be a fun summer.
Dawn [her trainer Dawn Angelique Roberts] is pushing me every step of the way. I think she's going to be my pacer for the full marathon. We run on the weekends.
You don't run during the week?
I don't because of my hair. Everything works around my hair appointments. I normally get my hair done Sunday afternoons, so I typically run and workout Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and then I'm done for the rest of the week. It's a lifestyle."
Do you really go to bed at 5:30 p.m.?
I do. I don't always fall asleep right away, but some days I do because when you wake up at 1 a.m., you feel it.
Waking up at 1 a.m. with even 8 hours of rest is hard. But waking up at 1 a.m. on less than 6 is painful. So, I have a whole routine. When I come home, normally from work, I watch my shows from the night before. It's all on DVR. And then around 4, I start watching the local news to see what's happened and try to get a jump start on the next day. It helps to have a routine.
Are your friends trained not to call after 5:30?
They still do. It doesn't wake me up, though, so that's good. And maybe that's why they feel they can get away with it.
Have you been reading anything interesting recently?
I am listening to Charlamagne Tha God. Do you know Charlemagne? He's a really famous radio DJ on the Breakfast Club [out of Power 105.1 in New York].
He has a book, Black Privilege, about his story going from very humble beginnings in South Carolina to become one of the most famous DJs and talk show hosts in the industry. He talks about his path, his checkered past, and just some of his rules for success and how he's come to do it.
What about your path?
I wouldn't say it was checkered. (Laughs) I had done the high school newspaper and the TV station and then went into finance because it never dawned on me to go into journalism – partially because I didn't really think that I could or that it was an actual career path.
And then I realized during my last semester that my heart wasn't in finance. So I spent some time trying to figure out what do I actually wanted to do, and all roads and signs pointed toward reading and writing.
I started interning with Dawn - she has a PR firm. Because of that, I got involved with PABJ [the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists] and met a lot of newsroom people. I was working a retail job, and a production assistant job [at NBC10] became available on a Friday afternoon. I had to be there Monday at 3 – I was like, "I'll be there at 2!"
That was my first newsroom job, and I loved it from the start. At the same time, I had been applying to grad schools, and I got into Northwestern. I felt like if I'm going to do this, I want to know how to do this.
I interned at CNN doing investigative work during the 2012 presidential election. Then I got my first on-air job, then my second on-air job, and then I came back home.
Is it different reporting on your own hometown?
You always take it seriously, but there's an additional level of seriousness. You don't want to make a fool of yourself because you know your friends, your classmates, and your teachers are all watching.