From Sorrow to Strength: A Kent State Alumna's Journey in Broadcast Journalism and Grief Advocacy

Kent State alumna Portia Booker '16, also known as "Portia the Producer," has navigated the world of broadcast journalism and emerged as a multimedia producer, podcaster and author. Both of her parents have died since she began navigating life as a young professional, and the transformative experience of losing them became a driving force behind her mission to reshape perceptions of grief.

"When my mom transitioned, I recognized that there was no manual,” Booker said. “There was nothing available to me to say, 'It's okay you're feeling this way, and it's okay to see your grief in a different light. For me, it's become my passion and my calling to have more conversations around grief and help people reframe their thought patterns around it."

Headshot of Portia Booker

Booker's journalistic journey began at Cuyahoga Community College, where a friend's recommendation led her to the student newsroom. That prompted her to change her major to news writing, and she soon became the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and won second place for best newspaper print story in the Press Club of Cleveland’s Ohio Excellence in Journalism Awards (2013). After earning her associate's degree, she transferred to Kent State. There, she honed her skills at the School of Media and Journalism and Student Media, especially TV2 and Black Squirrel Radio.

The main thing Booker learned at Kent State was to live in the moment and learn from the many experiences college students can be part of.

"Take pride in where you're at. We all make mistakes, but learn from them,” said Booker. “Learn from everything because the more you try, the more you give it your all, the more you're going to grow."

After graduation, Booker secured a role as a television producer in Oklahoma, but she faced mental health challenges, which ultimately led her back home. This experience became a catalyst for personal growth, propelling her into advocacy for mental health.

In 2019, a new door opened when Booker connected with someone at WOVU 95.9 FM while attending a networking mixer of Cleveland television personalities. That connection led to an opportunity, and it was in this position that she launched the show “Groove With Portia.”

“Groove With Portia” marked a turning point because it gave Booker a platform to interview individuals globally, transforming the show into a powerful platform for overcoming adversity. Simultaneously, it became a tool for addressing mental wellness challenges and reigniting her passion for storytelling.

While hosting her show on WOVU and holding a full-time corporate job with a very ill mother, Booker made the decision to leave corporate as part of The Great Resignation. She began her entrepreneurial journey, producing video projects for small businesses until her mother’s transition in July 2022. Three months after her mom passed away, she released an audiobook titled “Finding Grace within Grief: Her Transition...My Transformation.”

“It is a very vulnerable personal narrative about my mom's transition where I really ask people the question of, 'What if grief is not what we think? What if grief is about us letting go of the societal narrative, and embarking and embracing our own narrative of what grief is?" Booker explained.

Portia Booker sitting next to statue

Fast-forward to today, Booker now produces her own TV show with e360tv, “The Grief Grantor.”

“My show focuses on embracing gratitude and evolving grief,” said Booker. “After both of my parents made their transitions, I found there was a need to have conversations about grief because this is an experience every one of us is going to experience.”

Booker's dedication to inspiring and empowering others extends beyond her broadcast journalism endeavors. She engages with the Kent State community by visiting classes and participating in alumni engagement efforts. Recently, she offered life and career advice to a class of first-year Kent State College of Communication and Information students.

"I have a mantra that I say every day when I'm struggling to get out of bed. Two feet on the floor. If you can just put two feet on the floor, the battle is won,” Booker said.

POSTED: Tuesday, February 13, 2024 02:45 PM
Updated: Monday, February 26, 2024 12:01 PM
Eve Krejci, '24