The year was 1978, and Paula Zahn had just gotten her first real job, as a reporter for WFAA, a TV station in Dallas. From those humble beginnings, Zahn skyrocketed through a series of career jumps - San Diego, Houston, Boston, L.A. - until finally arriving at the summit of the television news biz, New York. But it all began in Dallas, which, Zahn says, opened its arms and "embraced me."
When asked about her first assignment, she says, "The question isn't if I remember my first story, it's how could I ever forget? I had studied journalism and done an internship at a Chicago station and was ready for the really big story, the hard-hitting exposé, the investigative piece that makes headlines the next morning. I thought I might cover a trial or a five-alarm fire. But then reality set in. The assignment editor told me I was being sent out to do a two-minute piece about 'things that people left behind.' In other words, items people ordered but never picked up. So I spent two days on the phone calling around. I found a taxidermist who had an enormous big-game animal that someone had paid to preserve, but that was still there 30 years later. We also went to a wedding shop downtown where a bride-to-be had bought her gown, but 40 years later had still not come back for it. Even stranger was going to a funeral home and filming an urn that held someone's remains that the family had never claimed. That was my first story in Dallas and the beginning of my career. Since then, I've traveled the world and interviewed several of our presidents, and Castro, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin, but I've never forgotten that WFAA gave me my running start."
Here are the places and things Paula Zahn left behind in Dallas/Fort Worth, and where she goes when she returns for speaking engagements, interviews with newsmakers, and the like.