This new arrival to Rockford has experienced many sides of journalism during his career. Meet this evening anchor, and discover what drew him from the South to the Midwest.
Curious George, the popular children’s television character, has nothing on WREX news co-anchor Sean Muserallo.
“I’ve always been naturally curious,” he says. “I was sometimes downright annoying about it, which bugged my parents. It started early. They have pictures of me sitting in my underwear in a recliner, reading the newspaper.”
Muserallo has worked in broadcast journalism for more than a decade, in three markets. For the past 6.5 years, he served as a morning reporter in Greenville, S.C., where getting up at 2:30 a.m. every morning became a grind. “I was ready for a change,” he says.
After Greenville, Muserallo was trying to find work in a larger market, until he learned of an opportunity at WREX. It took some convincing, however, on the part of his Greenville co-workers that a move to a station in Rockford – 100 markets smaller – was a good one. “I was in market 36,” he says. “I was thinking about moving up. This was a complete 180.”
But when Muserallo joined WREX in the spring as the evening co-anchor, it marked his first position as a main anchor. Josh Morgan, WREX news director, says, “What interested us, as a station, was Sean’s reporting background. We want to continue building a news team that can go out and find stories that matter to Rockford. We were interested in Sean the journalist rather than Sean the anchor. It’s harder to find a good journalist than it is to find someone with anchor talent. Fortunately, with Sean, we found both.”
Muserallo was born in the small town of Norwich, N.Y. At 9, he moved with his family to Thomasville, Ga., where his father, Jim, accepted a position with FEMA. His mom, Karin, was a special education teacher. The couple are retired these days and still call Georgia home. Muserallo has three siblings: older sister Carie, a school teacher, older sister Dava, who operates a mental health center, and younger brother Kiel, a pharmacist.
The move from New York to Georgia was a culture shock for young Muserallo. “Everyone in New York looked just like me,” he says. “But in Georgia, I learned about diversity. It was all so new to me. I still remember my second-grade teacher at Jerger Elementary School. She was the first African-American woman I had ever met. She treated me so kindly. I remember, at that age, being fascinated by the diversity of people.”
Growing up, Muserallo was an avid tennis player. He played varsity tennis all four years in high school, and, on weekends, he and his friends played as many as eight hours a day. “I wanted to be the next Pete Sampras, so I trained like him.”
As a teenager, Muserallo started to develop an interest in journalism. In high school, he designed the yearbook. He was a copy editor for the student newspaper at the University of Georgia, where he earned a degree in broadcast journalism and political science. But Muserallo was looking for something that moved news faster than a daily newspaper, so he switched his focus to broadcast news. “TV is so immediate,” he says. “I didn’t want to wait until the next morning to pick up a newspaper and see my story.” If journalism didn’t work out, his fallback plan was to earn a law degree. It never came to that.
Muserallo’s first job out of college was at a small television station in Tyler, Texas, where he worked as a weekend anchor and reporter. When his contract expired, he was undecided about his future in the media, so he took a job in the oil industry.
“I wasn’t ready to leave the area,” he says. “I knew the mayor in Longview, Texas, who owned EFC Value & Controls, a retail store that supplied oil fields with parts. He offered me a job and I said ‘sure.’ My first job was to clean the fryer at a crawfish boil. I started at the bottom. I went from being a TV reporter to the guy cleaning out the fryer at a company picnic.” He hung in there for three months, but soon realized how much he missed the rush he got from reporting the news.
“I’m glad I tried it,” he says. “I found out at age 23 that broadcast journalism is what I want to do.” Muserallo moved on to Richmond, Va., where he reported on a variety of subjects, including the case of Michael Vick, an NFL quarterback implicated in an illegal dog-fighting ring scandal. Muserallo covered the trial at the federal courthouse in Richmond. “I’ll never forget Vick coming out of a secret door dressed in an orange jumpsuit,” he says. “He was looking right at me. Here was a guy I knew from playing college and pro football. I was stunned.”
Muserallo also covered the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings in Blacksburg, Va., when a student at the university shot and killed 32 people, in 2007. “It was sad but uplifting at the same time,” Muserallo says. “There was a deep sadness, but the people in the community held up so well. My job as a storyteller is to convey those emotions and convey that renewed sense of hope after tragedy.”
Also memorable and deeply moving to Muserallo were stories he reported after devastating tornadoes ripped through the South, and stories involving the deaths of soldiers serving in the military. “I remember coming home to my wife, Emily, and saying, ‘We can’t delay life,’” he says. “You’re never guaranteed tomorrow. If we’re going to have a child, we need to do it now.” A few months later, the couple were expecting their first child. Daughter Beatty is now 2.
Muserallo supports the communities in which he works. He and Emily have volunteered time to humane societies, Ronald McDonald House and more. Four years ago, he participated in a mentoring program that brought a “don’t text and drive” campaign to schools in Greenville. In his short time in Rockford, Muserallo has become involved with Healing Pathways Cancer Resource Center.
“We’re not wallflowers,” he says. “We have an active volunteer and social schedule. My wife gets very involved in the community and has instilled that belief in me. We love to connect the dots in towns where we live and work.”
WREX co-anchor Kristin Crowley has seen firsthand Muserallo’s commitment to embracing a new community. “Sean is the definition of southern hospitality,” she says. “He’s so friendly and has a strong desire to get to know his co-workers, the community and the viewers. As soon as our live shows are over, at City Market, for example, Sean is walking around and talking to people. He’s very social. He’s brought that southern flavor to the Midwest and it’s really nice to see.”
During free time, the Muserallo family enjoys hopping in the car and discovering new experiences. “We’re explorers,” he says. “We enjoy people, food and culture. My wife is just as excited about this opportunity as I am. We can’t wait to discover Rockford and the Midwest. It’s really starting to feel like home.”