When Kim Godwin was in third grade, a teacher told her, “You really take initiative.” Like many a third grader, Godwin didn’t know what “initiative” meant. But, like anyone with initiative, she immediately looked it up in a dictionary.
A few decades hence, Godwin’s go-getter attitude has propelled her into an office at CBS Evening News as the primetime show’s senior broadcast producer. The Florida A&M grad was promoted to the position, from senior producer, at the end of last year.
Godwin’s resourceful approach of “just looking at what needs to be done and getting it done without being asked, without any drama,” is what made the former anchor decide she was more suited to the producing world.
In her early career, Godwin did a little bit of everything. During her senior year of college in Tallahassee, Fla., she put in a daily eight-hour volunteer shift at the local ABC affiliate, WTXL. She offered to do everything, from writing and editing stories to setting the rundown. Eventually Godwin talked her way into the control room, and “soon I was ordering graphics and talking to the director as if I really worked there,” she recalls.
A month after graduation, she did. WTXL’s news director offered Godwin a vacant executive producer slot, explaining to the then-20-year-old that he respected her work ethic.
She went on to a reporter-producer stint in West Palm Beach, Fla., followed by time behind the morning news anchor desk.
But she decided she preferred producing. “I wanted to call the shots,” says Godwin. “I wanted to be more involved in the editorial process, where it was decided what we were covering and how we were covering it.” From there she produced and directed local news across the country.
Following a “refreshing” few years as the interim director of her alma mater’s journalism school, the New York native came back to her home market as WCBS assistant news director. Godwin stayed in the position for a little under two years before being asked if she had ever thought about joining the network.
After almost eight years as CBS Evening News senior producer, Godwin last year was promoted by Evening News executive producer Steve Capus to the No. 2 position. Her 11-hour day consists of talking with producers and correspondents, editing and guiding scripts, trimming pieces, managing budgets and planning stories weeks in advance. “I like to call myself a Jill of all trades and a master of many,” said Godwin.
The broadcasting vet mines her local news skills daily and brings that perspective to the CBS newsroom. “When you’ve lived in those communities, you can speak to what people talk about and think about,” says Godwin. “You’ve been through it, you can reach back to an experience and use that as a point of reference.”
Capus also appreciates her local background. “It made her a better manager,” he says. “She has a terrific ability to spot a good story and is often one of the first people in our group to spot a trend.”
Going forward in her new position, Godwin hopes to do more stories like last October’s seven-part series on the National Guard-sponsored Challenge Academies, which use a military school approach to help high school dropouts get their diploma. “She was the driving force behind that [series],” says Capus. “Kim has a great ability to envision what a story is going to look like in the planning stage and in the final production.”
“These kinds of things are what we’re looking to do more of,” says Godwin. “It’s a lot like bringing 60 Minutes-type stories to our 30-minute broadcast whenever we can. [We want] people to feel like they walk away from our newscast and they’re informed.”
That’s why as news hit recently that the U.S. was raising its embargo on Cuba, CBS Evening News was in the Caribbean by primetime. “When stories are important like that, when historic moments are made, we want to make sure we’re on top of it,” Godwin says.