ABOVE PHOTO: Clayton Sizemore
Broadcaster honors wife’s memory by giving scholarships to students who want to follow in her footsteps
By Kara Hackett
world on campus
Clayton Sizemore sees challenges as opportunities.
He chose the broadcasting industry over a basketball scholarship his senior year of college at State University of New York in New Paltz. While taking classes, he drove 45 minutes through the snow to Albany, N.Y., in his Toyota Corolla twice a week to produce daily news videos.
As advanced video technology became available, Sizemore didn’t let clunky camera equipment keep him from trying something new while other seasoned journalists stuck with older technology that was easier to manage.
And when co-workers spread Vaseline on his camera lenses at CBS, Sizemore wasn’t even fazed. He turned the prank into a lesson to check every piece of his equipment before leaving for an assignment.
Throughout his 20 years in the broadcasting industry, Sizemore’s “no excuses” work ethic helped him develop from a self-starting electronic news gathering photographer into the manager of operations at CNN. So it is not surprising that when his wife, journalist Andria Hall Sizemore, 52, died of breast cancer on Jan. 12, 2009, Sizemore chose to turn a difficult situation into an opportunity to grow.
Following Andria’s faithful example and celebrating her legacy, Sizemore founded the SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. Foundation in January 2009 to provide scholarships for disadvantaged youth interested in communications in the U.S. and the Caribbean. The foundation gives away $4,000 every year.
But for Sizemore, integrating Christianity with broadcasting was a growing process.
Sizemore met his future wife when she was a freshman at SUNY, and he was a sophomore working in the cafeteria. While bussing trays one day, he saw her putting her tray away. They dated for 12 years and married.
Andria was a journalist at the CNN Time Warner Center in New York where Clayton works as Manager of Operations, overseeing the company’s technical operations.
Around 1990, the Sizemores moved to Scotch Plains, N.J., where they reared one daughter and two sons–Amber, Cameron and Chase. They also helped rear Clayton’s niece Jourdon Sizemore.
Andria became an Emmy Award-winning journalist, but in 2003, she shocked Clayton by leaving her work at top mainstream news organizations to start her own Christian media and public presentation consulting firm. She called the company SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. Inc.
“I thought it was crazy,” Sizemore said, sitting behind his seventh story desk in the CNN Time Warner Center on 58th Street, in New York City. “She stopped being a broadcaster to follow her faith and to broadcast for Jesus Christ.”
Andria was the daughter of a Baptist preacher who grew up in the church.
Like Andria, Sizemore grew up in a Christian family. He attended a Lutheran school as a boy, but he stopped attending church when he moved out of his parent’s house. Today, Sizemore is a member of a Baptist church, and his wife is the greatest inspiration for his ever-growing faith.
Faith affects every part of his work as a broadcaster, Sizemore said. Colorful pictures of his wife and four children decorate the white walls of his CNN office.
“Andria was constantly reinventing herself,” he said. “She was very bold and very brave.”
Today, Sizemore continues his wife’s work, which includes setting a strong example for their four young adult children.
Their eldest son Cameron, 22, graduated from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Penn., in May 2012 with an interest in the film industry. Cameron describes his mother as very sympathetic and empathetic, but he says both parents taught him clear standards of right and wrong: “We were brought up with very creative and hard working parents, and I think that rubbed off.”
His father’s love for the industry is as contagious as his smile when he leans forward in his brown suit and rests his hands on the desk in front of two muted televisions showing the 5 p.m. news.
As they honor Andria’s legacy, the Sizemore family hopes to help more students each year who want to follow in her footsteps. So far, SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A. has given away more than $21,000 in scholarships.
“Andria would be proud,” Sizemore said. “We’re trying to figure out a way to give away more and do more.”