Adrienne Bankert loves her some Fort Worth. But she’s flown the coop, landing on the Left Coast with a new job that she starts this week at KABC/Channel 7 in Los Angeles.
She’ll be a reporter, anchor, and “a little bit of everything,” she said in a phone conversation with Blotch.
“It’s a good advancement for my career,” she said. “We all want to move forward, to make progress. This is going to open a lot of doors.”
The breakup of Channel 11’s morning news crew was swift and sad. The Fort Worth station fired the unpredictable and always fun to watch Brendan Higgins after he spent a night boozing in Colorado and was arrested for disorderly conduct. He’d been a familiar face in local TV for a decade.
Then traffic reporter Whitney Drolen exited in October, saying something about needing a healthier environment for her spirit, body, and mind. Yowza!
In January, the station announced that longtime evening news anchor Karen Borta would be taking over for Bankert in the 4:30 to 7 a.m. slot.
“It was nothing negative,” Bankert said. “I really am grateful to CBS. They’ve been very kind to me. I met some of the nicest people in the industry in Fort Worth.”
She had numerous work options after she left KTVT, but spent a few months relaxing, consulting, doing speaking engagements, and sleeping in late for a change.
“It was very easy to get used to sleeping in,” she said. “It was the first time I could do that in my career.”
During her years at Channel 11, she lived downtown near Sundance Square, awoke at 2 a.m. each weekday, drove to the studio in East Fort Worth by 3, and was prepped and camera ready by show time. It’s tough for most folks to look bright and beautiful at that ungodly hour of morning, but Bankert pulled it off – she was the 2014 critic’s choice selection in Fort Worth Weekly’s Hottest Local Female Celebrity category of the annual Best Of Awards.
Higgins has lain low since his termination. He issued an apology back in August on his Facebook page, and then disappeared from public view. His FB page now lists him as vice president of entertainment and executive producer at Swift Air, a Phoenix-based charter flight business for sports teams and tour operators. I sent him a message asking for an interview for this article but haven’t heard back from him.
The comfortable camaraderie between Bankert and Higgins that was so evident on TV wasn’t an act.
“I have nothing but kind words to say about him too,” Bankert said. “He brought humanity to the position. He’s a real guy and funny as all get out.”
Bankert, a California native, was raised in a large family with six siblings. When she arrived in Fort Worth in 2012, it was the first time she’d been away from home during the holidays. A few days before Christmas, Higgins surprised her.
“He said, ‘I know you’re used to being around a lot of kids, why don’t you come over to the house? We’re going to open Christmas presents with the kids.’ ”
For the next three years, Bankert spent Christmas Eve at the home of Higgins, his wife, and children. She awoke on Christmas mornings and exchanged presents with them.
“Very few people know that side of him,” Bankert said. “That became my Texas Christmas tradition because I had a new sense of family. That bowled me over that someone who didn’t really know me and was my co-worker would want to spend time with me on a holiday. His kids were great and his wife was great and that was precious. A beautiful memory.”