NBC Palm Springs sports anchor Brandy Flores aired her final desert broadcast on Friday night after an almost two-year run with the station.
As they say in the sports world, the 25-year-old is taking her talents to the Washington, D.C., market, where she will join D.C. News Now, part of the Nexstar Media Group, which owns and operates around 200 TV stations across the United States.
According to the most recent Nielsen ratings, Flores will be jumping from the 146th biggest market in the U.S. in Palm Springs to the ninth biggest in D.C. That's a move she said wouldn't have been possible without her two years in the desert.
"I am completely different and I have grown so much here, I can't thank this place enough," said Flores, who was hired during the pandemic and started in September of 2020. "For the loyal viewers who have watched me since the beginning, it's very obvious to see how much I've grown. I'm way more comfortable in front of the camera. I would get nervous going to high school games when I first started, worried I wouldn't do a good job, but now I'm pretty confident, and I definitely tried my very hardest. I'm a much better journalist. I think people might have noticed that I've grown in that aspect as well."
She said she's excited about the change professionally. As part of a four-person sports team, she'll be the main anchor on the weekends and cover primarily the pro and college teams in the D.C. area. D.C. News Now also produces a half-hour sports show every day which she will be a part of. She said her first assignment will be at the NFL camp of the Washington Commanders when she starts on Aug. 8.
She's also excited about the move personally because she's never lived or worked outside of Southern California. She graduated from Hemet West Valley High, earned a broadcast journalism degree from Cal State Fullerton and worked at Bally Sports West in L.A. before coming to the desert.
"I grew up in a really traditional Mexican-American household where family is so important, so really I didn't want to leave," Flores said. "Not that they were holding me back. They wanted me to spread my wings. I've had amazing support from my parents my whole life, but I was personally a little terrified. But now I think I'm ready for something new. I'm excited to live somewhere and immerse myself somewhere brand new."
Flores is the first Latina sportscaster in desert TV history, and that's a point of pride for her. While her sports coverage spanned the desert, she said she definitely felt a kinship with the East Valley and particularly loved telling the stories of athletes from Coachella and Indio.
Put simply, it reminded her of home.
"My mom's side of the family were from the Imperial Valley and they were farm workers ,and when I visit Coachella or Indio it reminds me of the town my mom grew up in," Flores said. "Any time I did any story over there, the way that these families support each other and supported me, I mean I just have a soft spot in my heart for them. That's what my family is like. So, shoutout to my East Valley people."
Savvy desert sports viewers may get a sense of déjà vu hearing about the desert-to-D.C. jump. Coincidentally, Flores' predecessor at NBC Palm Springs, Olivia Garvey, also made the same leap and is still working at WJLA, the ABC station in Washington, D.C. Flores said the two exchanged a lot of messages when she first started at NBC and Garvey helped her get settled in. The two recently met in person for the first time at the MLB All-Star game in Los Angeles.
"She's excited for me; I'm excited to work in the same city as her," Flores said. "She's been really nice. It's rare, especially in our industry, where everybody thinks of everybody else as competition, but it will be nice to have someone I know already there."
Flores' father is a big boxing fan and, by the transitive property, so is she. She recently started freelancing as a ring-side reporter for DAZN (a global sports streaming service popular in boxing) for the fight cards at Fantasy Springs.
Her love of the sport led her to her most impressive project — her magnum opus, if you will — a three-part mini-documentary on desert boxer Tim Bradley. She went deep with Bradley on the 10th anniversary of his historic, much-discussed victory over Manny Pacquiao.
"That came together quickly, but I do want to thank Tim for being so real and genuine and telling his story," Flores said. "I think of myself as a journalist first, not a TV personality, and telling compelling stories like his is what I love to do most. I hope that came through."
Flores said even though her time in the desert was short, it was impactful.
"I feel like I've made the Coachella Valley my home during my time here. I'll be sad to leave," she said. "I loved covering everyone I came in contact with and I want to thank everyone here who welcomed me and made me a better journalist and grow as a person."
Shad Powers is a columnist for The Desert Sun. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: NBC Palm Springs sports anchor Brandy Flores off to Washington D.C.