“I hate working in the rain,” laments Irene Johnson, mother of son E.J. (13), son Ezon (11) and daughter Eden (9). “I’m scared of walking on the grass,” utters Molette Green, mother of daughters Rickie (14) and Rylie (12). And so begin bits and pieces of comical prose from two hard-working, respected journalists from NBC4 Washington news. In between serious facts about being their own television producers, the duo takes turns hamming it up with a modern interpretation of Laurel and Hardy with mild, playful insults and a whole lot of love.
Green and Johnson have known each other for 25 years. Way back when, they took a memorable trip to the Bahamas as single friends. Johnson implemented a fantastical no-Ricky contract which meant Green was not allowed to even mention Ricky, who would eventually become Green’s husband. The Bahamas trip also bore witness to the conch incident that inspired Johnson to release the creature inside …
Johnson and Green interrupt each other to discuss the Bahamas story, stopping long enough to snort out laughter that leaves traces of memories filled with the good, the bad and the adventurous in their professional and personal lives.
Their workday begins at an astounding hour when people are usually in a deep sleep, waking up at 2:00 a.m., driving to NBC4 studios, loading up the truck with camera equipment and arriving on location roughly between 4:45-5:00 a.m. each weekday. Supposedly, their workday ends at 12 noon, but it really doesn’t, because motherhood and domestic chores beckon, calling upon their services in different capacities. An exhausting schedule that may seem impossible, but a doable one that Johnson and Green have mastered in the two years they’ve been working together.
“We have to find our own stories and do our morning live shots. We’re our own producers,” states Johnson, a veteran photographer who works as a videographer and editor for NBC4 Washington. Green describes Johnson as her camerawoman, as she is responsible for the lights and television camera and for making sure Green and the events she broadcasts all look good on TV. Johnson sarcastically insists she has no idea whether her work and duties as a mother coexist, even though she adeptly maneuvers her unique challenges each day. “Is balance such a thing?” quips Johnson.
With three children who are heavily invested in lacrosse, baton twirling and jujitsu, there is always something going on in Johnson’s life. She proudly recounts being adopted by a loving white family and growing up in farmland, describing herself as a tomboy. Her loving, careful nature is evident in the way she and her husband raise their children with little outside help.
Green is a community reporter and anchor at NBC4 Washington. Though her job is primarily in front of the camera, Green never wastes a second off-camera as she juggles 100 tasks simultaneously, including preparing carefully for each segment, studying and writing notes, asking the guests questions, reviewing breaking emails and, of course, sparring playfully with Johnson, who is busy setting up the shots and choreographing people and things to make everything look as camera-ready as possible.
Green acknowledges the work-life balance is tricky. “I go to bed at 6:30 p.m. I try to use my time wisely. It’s easier now because the kids are older and don’t need so much,” she explains. Despite the difficulties, Green insists hers is the best schedule for a working mom. She admits she and Johnson are constantly sleep-deprived, but they have learned to function and succeed with their respective family lives.
Green is grateful that her husband takes homework duty and prepares for the next school day after she goes to bed. Her teen daughters are accustomed to her work schedule. For them, seeing Mom wake up at 2:00 a.m. and having her go to bed at 6:30 p.m. is normal and the only thing they’ve ever known. “They’re cool with it. They see me as just Mom,” says Green. She is very happy to do lots of mother-daughter things on the weekends.
Green speaks about their jobs at NBC4 Washington before this current position. They were previously assigned to cover regular news, including blood, gore and death. Green recalls how those news stories began to jade them, causing them to take home the mental baggage of anguish and despair after seeing people suffer profoundly. Thankfully, Green and Johnson’s bosses assigned a switch. They wanted Green to start covering the morning news by bringing hope to the community and highlighting good news. From the get-go, Green insisted she be partnered with Johnson. This cemented the working relationship that started off as a friendship many years before.
Green calls this current position “a dream assignment. We are seeing a lot of good stuff and it is helping us be better moms and better in the community.” Green acknowledges her valuable position of being assigned with Johnson. “It is rare to see two women working together in the Washington market,” she notes. On top of that, both are women of color whose compassion and pure interest in people from all walks of life has transcended any barriers of language, race, cultural differences, economic status or other demographics that typically divide people.
Johnson is humble and downplays any rock star status she has as a heavyweight at NBC4. “I don’t do pictures. I don’t get in pictures,” responds Johnson matter-of-factly to one of the segment guests when she asks why Johnson didn’t want to be in the end-of-shoot photo. Johnson admits, most times she and Green have no idea what they are walking into when they arrive on location to do segments throughout the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.
She is keenly aware of their difficulties in researching and arranging their own stories, communicating with potential guests who may or may not appear on NBC4 and dealing with the changes in weather and other geographic concerns. But nothing is too detrimental to keep her down. She rises above every problem with enviable strength and determination. “We have the best partnership ever. We’re so opposite, yet we’re so great together,” remarks Johnson when describing her 25-year friendship-turned-working-partnership with Green.
The comedic, yet serious and dedicated, news duo keeps the party rolling post-filming with their occasional Facebook “car chats” – unfiltered and hilarious discussions about nothing, à la Seinfeld style. Readers are encouraged to submit their own good news story ideas directly to NBC4 news for consideration to: firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow along with Johnson and Green’s “car chats,” visit facebook.com/Molette-Green-169234459775235/.