Sitting at her desk in the middle of a frenetic Center City newsroom, Hadas Kuznits extracts audio from a speech with an editor via intercom as she fields calls on her cell phone, monitors several police scanners and every so often, consults a pager that feeds her breaking-news updates.
"This is a slow pace," insists Kuznits, 30, an on-air reporter with KYW 1060, whose workload can be even more daunting.
But Kuznits likes a challenge.
Born in Israel, she moved to the United States with her family at age 2; on her 18th birthday, she was drafted into the Israeli army. She could have gotten a release from service because she was a resident of America, but after visiting Israel and renewing a connection with her birthplace, she enrolled in boot camp.
"I really wanted to go," she says in the same smooth voice she uses on the air. "I thought it was an experience that I should have – just like college."
After basic training, Kuznits worked translating news from Hebrew to English; since it occurred during the tumultuous years from 1993 to 1995 – which witnessed the height of the peace process, as well as a series of terrorist attacks and the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin – she felt like she was writing history as it happened.
"The Palestinians and the Israelis shook hands for the first time," she relays. "They had an autonomy plan, which was unheard of before that. They made peace with Jordan; they made real concessions. So many things were going full-speed ahead."
Focus on the Young
After leaving the army with the rank of sergeant and then returning to the United States, Kuznits decided to pursue a career in journalism to reach out to America's notoriously apathetic youth.
"I wanted to get young people as interested in what was going on in the world as I was," she explains. "If college students voted as much as the senior citizens, the issues on the table would not be Medicare and Social Security. It would be college tuition reimbursement. It would be things that are important to young people."
As a first step, Kuznits enrolled in Temple University's broadcast and communications program.
"If I can handle the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, I can handle North Philly," kids Kuznits, referring to Temple's not-so-safe reputation during the mid-'90s.
After Temple, Kuznits – also a graduate of Akiba Hebrew Academy in Merion – gained professional news experience working in the small Midwestern towns of Princeton, Ill. (population 7,500) and Watertown, Wis. (population 23,000), where many people had never before met a Jew.
"My friend Sherry once said, 'I don't mean to be rude, but I've never met a Jewish person in my life. Can I ask you a couple of questions?' " recalls Kuznits, who eventually brought the woman home to Philadelphia to experience a Passover seder.
In addition to her work schedule, Kuznits spent a lot of time in the Midwest trying to absorb the many differences between the East Coast and the middle of the country – what some people like to describe as the differences between "red" states and "blue" ones.
"It's really two Americas," she says. "It made me a better reporter. It made me understand the issues that people don't necessarily deal with in the cities, like agriculture."
Reporting hard news and feature stories at KYW since 2002, Kuznits seems to be having a veritable love affair with the radio business.
"The reporter in radio has a hand in everything: You write it, you edit it, you interview, and you cut," she says. "Unless you have some sort of serious grammatical mistake, it's kind of all up to you."
With her freedom in radio reporting, she won't even entertain the notion of whether she's ready to "move up" to TV news.
"It's a preference," she stresses. "I think we have more listeners than all the TV stations combined. I can really craft my stories on radio, and I can really get into someone's head."