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It’s easy to imagine that television news anchors might be the first wave of the rise of the machines — that below that desk, they’re all wiring and cold circuitry, with some stagehand creeping in with an oil can to periodically grease a squeaky cog. Most of them are, after all, preternaturally goodlooking — perfect of coif and teeth and complexion — possibly stamped out in a factory somewhere in the Pacific Rim.
That’s what makes KATV Channel 7 anchor Christina Munoz such a breath of fresh air. Both on television and in person, there’s no mistaking her for a cyborg. A perfect balance of beauty, vitality and talent, she’s more human than most.
Munoz was born and raised in the small town of Yankton, S.D. In a story that sounds like something out of Hemingway, her father, a professional violinist, fell in love with and married Munoz’ mother while both were trying to establish a Peace Corps music school in Chile. With the country’s government soon to fall to a military coup, however, they fled to America, where they settled in his native Yankton.
Blessed with three daughters — Christina was the youngest — they made sure their home was always full of art. “We were a very artistic family,” Munoz said. “Me and my two older sisters did theater, dance, music; we played violin. I was really passionate about dance.”
Munoz’ talent was recognized early. An actor and dancer in local shows long before she could drive, she was hired by the University of South Dakota at 16 as a dance choreographer. Around the same age, through a part-time job at a local AM radio station, she found her other love: broadcast journalism. After training as a ballerina through high school and college (she graduated with a degree in mass communications from the University of Minnesota) and a year as a production assistant at a TV station in Minneapolis, she had a decision to make: stage or screen?
“I had kind of these two passions all along,” she said. ”I loved the broadcasting and I loved the dancing. It was just a decision after college of what would work best for me.”
Luckily for us, she chose to follow her TV ambitions. After a year as a reporter at a Duluth, Minn., TV station, Munoz sent a tape to Little Rock’s KATV on the advice of a friend who had gone through Channel 7 to a spot at CNN. Though there were no reporter positions available at the time, the news department did a little shuffling, and she was hired. Two years ago, when anchor Kate Sullivan moved on, Munoz got promoted to the Big Chair alongside Scott Inman, starting off at 10 p.m. and soon taking over anchor duties at 5 and 6 as well. She was the first Latina to hold an anchor position in the Little Rock market.
“Being a part of the Hispanic community that is growing has been a lot of fun,” she said. “It’s a community that I can reach out to that maybe someone else couldn’t have.”
While the time she devotes to dance has scaled back since the days when she was allowed to attend the Minnesota Ballet’s grueling two-and-a-half hour workouts, her commitment to ballet remains as strong as ever. The current president of the Ballet Arkansas board, Munoz takes classes and practices with the troupe whenever she can. Along with cycling and excursions to the Ozarks with her rock climbing instructor husband, dancing is the secret to how she keeps her perfect figure.
“I don’t work out. I don’t know how to go to a gym,” she said. “All I’ve ever done is dance… so whatever I can fit into my schedule, I take as many dance classes as I can.” She still gets to lace up her toe shoes from time to time for a performance, dancing in “The Nutcracker” every Christmas. When a dancer for Ballet Arkansas was injured before a performance a few weeks back, Munoz came off the bench. “It wasn’t part of the plan,” she said, “but I knew the dance, so I went in.”
Now that she’s arrived at most anyone’s definition of the pinnacle of the Little Rock market, Munoz doesn’t know what the future holds. Mostly, she’s just happy to be here. “The original plan was just to be here a year and a half and then leave as a reporter,” she said. “And then the opportunities to anchor came up and I took them. I don’t know. We’ve bought a house and this is home now. It was an adjustment at first, but now it’s home. So, I don’t know what the future holds. I’m kind of up for anything.”