Deborah Duncan returns to the talk show stage
Local TV personality Deborah Duncan has returned to the talk show stage as host of KHOU’s morning show, “Great Day Houston.” The former news anchor and talk show host brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to morning TV.
“We are thrilled to have someone as well known and loved as Deborah take on this role,” KHOU General Manager Susan McEldoon said. “She has the right mix of energy, passion and experience for the job.”
In her youth Duncan aspired to be a doctor. “I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon, and part of the reason was I knew I could help people,” she says. “I wanted to do something noble.” However, her cousin convinced her to consider journalism. “You love everything,” the cousin observed. “You love politics, you love history, you love fashion — you enter things with an open mind.” Duncan took her cousin’s advice to heart and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in radio, television and film.
Duncan attributes her open-mindedness to being raised in diverse environments in a military family. “I was born in Oklahoma City, but three months later we moved to Taiwan. I went to five different elementary schools,” she says. She learned to communicate with new people and adapt quickly to new environments — skills she would later use in her journalism career.
Duncan credits much of her success to seeing the human behind the name and title. “The thing about having been in this business for so long [is] nobody intimidates you, because you realize when you sit down with somebody that they’re just human beings.” She found that human connection with George W. Bush. During their interview he opened up to her about his concerns as a parent. “I interviewed him when he was governor, and [George W. Bush the parent] was a whole different person than [George W. Bush the President],” she says. She did not always have an indomitable spirit. In fact in her early days Duncan suffered from low self-esteem. She never imagined working in TV because she didn’t think she was pretty enough. Instead, Duncan put her degree to work at a radio station in Austin. As her career progressed she gained confidence in her journalistic abilities and her audience grew. When one of Austin’s local news anchors vacated her position for a new job, she encouraged Duncan to apply for the TV spot. She filled out an application and sent the news director a Chinese carry-out box containing a fortune cookie that read, “Confucius say: Hiring Deborah would be a very, very good idea.” The news director loved it and said, “I’m hoping you’ll use that kind of creativity to do your work as a reporter.”
Since then she has enjoyed success in television. Her career includes working as a news anchor and hosting several talk shows: “Our Home” on the Lifetime network, “Good Morning Texas,” a Dallas based talk show, and her own syndicated show, “The Debra Duncan Show,” on ABC. In her newest role as host of “Great Day Houston,” Duncan wants to explore topics and stories that don’t fit into a newscast. She’d like the show to become multi-segmented to provide in-depth coverage of things important to Houstonians — issues that directly affect people’s lives.
Many of her segments will focus on subjects that have significance in her personal life. As a mother, she hopes to bring insight to shows involving children and parenting. She says motherhood is “the most incredible experience ever.” The challenge is “to raise a child to go out into the world and contribute to it.” Her first episode focused on her battle with hypothyroidism. The segment pointed out how medicine hasn’t really caught up with how people are feeling. Doctors often prescribed Duncan medication for the symptoms of her illness and not the real illness. “People were glad to hear a real-life story,” she says. “We had so many emails thanking us [for sharing].”
Life experiences also propel her charity work. “You don’t choose your mission; your mission eventually chooses you,” she says. After her brother was killed by a drunk driver, Duncan joined Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and she is now on the national board. Her passion against drug abuse has earned her a seat on the board of the Palmer Drug Abuse Program.
Talk show host, community activist and mom, Deborah Duncan certainly has her hands full, but she doesn’t feel overwhelmed. Her philosophy is simple: “The world is huge, but you only deal with your little part of it. You have to find your little part.” Considering Duncan’s television career has now spanned more than a decade, it seems she’s found her part. With all the experience, personality and passion Duncan brings to the show, it’s shaping up to be a great day for “Great Day Houston.”