Anchor, WSHM CBS 3 Springfield; Age 26Cherise Leclerc remembers how still, how quiet — how eerie — it was in Watertown that Friday in April, four days after the Boston Marathon bombings and just hours after a night of confrontation between police and suspects left one of the alleged bombers dead, another still on the loose, and Greater Boston in an unprecedented state of lockdown.
“That whole day was so strange; it’s just not right to see no one of the streets, no one driving … nothing,” said Leclerc, who worked then, as now, as an anchor with CBS 3 Springfield. She and a fellow crew member had driven to Watertown at 6 that morning and, upon arriving, were — like all other media members present — left to watch, listen, and keep viewers updated as best they could.
And if what transpired during the morning and afternoon was surreal, what happened at 6:30 that evening, just as Leclerc and her co-worker were finally getting a bite to eat, was even more so. “Suddenly, about 30 state police and Watertown police cruisers came roaring by,” she recalled, adding that she was only a block away from where Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was eventually captured in a boat. “We could hear the flash bangs, see the helicopter overhead, and then we heard on the walkie-talkie, ‘we got him … suspect in custody.’”
That day comprised one of many highlights in a career in local television that officially began just a few days after the June 1, 2011 tornado, when she was still officially an intern, and that has seen Leclerc quickly rise to anchor of the 4, 6, and 11 p.m. news broadcasts and become a fixture on the local news scene.
There have been many memorable stories since, including the enshrinement of two Western Mass. police officers at the National Police Officers memorial in Washington, D.C. (coverage that garnered an award), but Leclerc is more proud of the day-to-day work of keeping viewers informed and covering stories that matter to them.
When not doing the news, Leclerc occasionally presents a program she created called B-YOU-tiful, which empowers young people to embrace themselves and live a positive and healthy lifestyle. She’s also completed two marathons as part of Team Endure to Cure, raising more than $1,000 for children battling cancer to carry out their wishes.
As for her own wishes, she says her career is a dream come true. “I’m from Hampden and grew up watching the local news, and now I get to be on; it doesn’t seem real sometimes.”
— George O’Brien
Photo by Denise Smith Photography