Kelly Rice

Just eight years after receiving her communication degree from Illinois State University, Kelly Rice ’00 is the proud recipient of an Emmy for her undercover investigation of Charlotte, N.C. restaurants serving banned seafood.

The story, “Something’s Fishy,” first aired in May 2007 on WCNC, a Charlotte television station. Rice, an investigative reporter for the NBC affiliate, hid a camera in her purse at 10 different restaurants in Charlotte—ranging from sports bars to high-end steak houses—and ordered red snapper and grouper. The samples were then sent to a lab at Nova Southeast University in Florida for DNA testing. Consumer fraud was revealed when she found that a third of the restaurants were substituting tilapia for red snapper and Asian catfish for grouper. The state issued a warning and made the restaurants sign a statement promising not to substitute again.

Rice’s partners, John Gray and Stuart Watson, also received the Emmy in Nashville, Tenn., on January 26 from the Midsouth chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in the business/consumer category.

Rice said when they called her name it felt like she was having an out-of-body experience.  “It was an amazing experience,” she said. “ It’s an honor when other journalists recognize you for your hard work.  Our investigation made a difference and winning the Emmy solidified that.  I’m very passionate about what I do, and I have to thank TV10 for giving me the foundation I needed to become a successful journalist.”

TV-10 Director Laura Trendle Polus said “Kelly is a great example for TV-10 students.  She’s been doing excellent work in television news and has been able to work her way up through several markets, which is exactly what many of our students hope to be able to do. It’s especially good to see her being honored for a story that will really make an important difference to her audience and could even save lives.”