INDIANAPOLIS — If you ask anyone that’s ever interned inside a local newsroom what it was really like, they’ll most likely tell you it was a hands-on experience.
For Michele Stepanek, now Michele Teague, her internship was no exception.
Teague’s internship began thanks to the station’s close relationship with Butler University, where she was enrolled.
“A lot of our graduates were on air or producing or in production,” Teague said.
Teague interned with WRTV from September 1987 through May 1988. She was a news intern who frequently worked on consumer reports with longtime WRTV reporter Barbara Boyd.
“She [Boyd] was an advocate,” Teague said. “She mentored a lot of us no matter what color or ethnic background we were. She was just an all-around good person.”
As it would turn out, Barbara Boyd was also a good shot.
Each holiday season, Boyd tested the hottest toys on the market. Thirty-five years ago this month, one of the hottest toys wasn’t considered a toy according to a warning label on its packaging.
Entertech’s "Gotcha!" paint pellet gun set was marketed as a game for teens ages 16 and up. It came in two editions: the "Gotcha! Sport Enforcer" and "Gotcha! Commando." Each retailed for about $30.
Despite the manufacturer's warning that the gun wasn’t a toy, Boyd purchased it at, you guessed it, Toys “R” Us.
Safety advocates including the Consumer Product Safety Commission warned parents of the dangers the gun presented, specifically eye injuries. The instructions included with the Gotcha guns also instructed users to never fire at someone less than 5 feet away.
Enter intern Michele.
“It wasn’t uncommon for us to be asked to do unusual things,” Teague said.
Teague was targeted to be the target in Boyd’s toy test.
“I was asked to put on this huge white garment, and they were like, ‘Oh it’ll be fine,’” Teague said.
And sure enough, on the front lawn of the WRTV studios, Boyd fired the paint-filled pellets at Teague, who clearly didn’t enjoy the pain of the paint pellet.
“Things like that just wouldn't happen today,” Teague said with a smile on her face.
In fact, Teague was all smiles when recalling her time at WRTV.
“Channel 6 went out of their way to try to uncover stories and cover the things that impacted the entire community,” Teague said.
Teague says Boyd left a lasting impact and her and shared this message for Boyd:
“You are an icon in the business and you are a treasure for the State of Indiana. Thank you for all of the wisdom that you gave to me and to all the other interns at Channel 6. Wishing you well.”
Teague also shared advice for anyone that’s currently in an internship.
“At 21, I was a totally different person than I am in my 50s," Teague said. "I would embrace every moment because even the cruddy parts of the job are going to teach you something.”
Teague is now pursuing a degree in social work. She says she has one more year and one more internship before completing her degree.