Barajas looks back on journey, hopes to see his sons attend his alma mater
Fox 26 news anchor Mike Barajas said UH was instrumental to his successful career in broadcast journalism.
Barajas covered landmark news stories from the Challenger explosion to Pope John Paul II’s visit to San Antonio and the inauguration of former President George W. Bush.’
He said he started thinking of reporting in the 1960s and remembers watching reporters deliver news of the Vietnam War from jungles halfway across the world.
‘I thought it was fascinating,’ he said.
Barajas said Walter Cronkite -‘the most trusted man in America,’ – and Dan Rather were the two men who inspired him as he watched the evening news.’
Barajas enrolled at UH in the 1980s to major in broadcast journalism.’
When he wasn’t trying to amass experience with different broadcast news organizations around Houston, he loved to watch Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the rest of Phi Slama Jama vie for the NCAA championship.
His first reporting job was at KLVL (1560 AM), the only Spanish-language media in Houston at the time.’
He moved from KLVL to a country-western station where he delivered hourly news broadcasts.
‘When Elvis Presley died, I happened to be working at the radio station, so I was able to give the breaking news that, ‘this just in – rock legend Elvis Presley, king of rock and roll, has passed away.’ That’s stuff that you don’t forget,’ Barajas said.
Barajas said a University professor told him about the opening at that station where he broke his first big story.’
Barajas said UH communication professors William Hawes and Ted Stanton were important sources of encouragement during his academic career.
He said he is grateful to those professors who helped him get his start in broadcast television as a reporter for KPRC (Channel 2).
In 1986, the Fox broadcast station debuted. Barajas’ career took off after he became the burgeoning station’s news anchor.’
Barajas’ said his days as news anchor have him representing his station to the community by delivering speeches at school graduations, emceeing charity functions and other events around town and, one time, even walking the catwalk in a fashion show for Star of Hope charity for the homeless.
‘ ‘We all come together to make the play happen,’ Barajas said. ‘The reporters are out in the field, and we’re out here. There’s a whole group of people – there’s writers, there’s camera people out in the field, there’s camera people out in the studio. Ultimately, it all comes down to the anchor to bring it all together. It all comes together in delivering it to the audience.’
Election nights and sports championships are two of Barajas’ favorite times at the station.
‘These are historic moments in our nation’s history,’ he said. ‘When you think that you have the privilege of being able to be the one that’s delivering the news, it’s humbling and also fantastic at the same time.”
Barajas said a news anchor should be sincere, as well as professional.
‘Even though you try to be a little more professional and a little more polished because that’s what the job demands, you still want to be basically yourself because of the main functions of a newscaster ultimately is that you do your job well enough to earn the trust of the people who are watching the broadcast,’ he said. ‘Over time, what you want to do is establish a bond and trust with the viewership.’
While Houston television viewers may be familiar with Barajas’ confident delivery of segments on Fox 26’s 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. broadcasts, he enjoys cracking a good joke off-camera.’
‘ ‘He is the nicest guy,’ UH communication professor Michael Berryhill said.
Barajas is a family man. His computer monitor is decorated with photographs of his wife and three sons.
‘One of my sons is following in my footsteps. He’s going to UH. He’s also studying broadcast journalism,’ Barajas said. ‘One of my other sons is going to UH. I went to UH. My youngest son is in middle school right now, but he can’t wait until he gets to UH.”
Even though this star has risen high beyond UH campus grounds, Barajas said he still makes it out to cheer at the UH football games with his boys.
‘We all wear red for the football game, including my wife. We just have a good time and go see the game,’ he said. ‘I sit there sometimes and wonder and feel amazed that life is good, that things have worked out wonderfully.”