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GOING DEEPER WITH: TV Reporter/Journalist Josie Koler

Josie Koler used to report the news from an anchor desk. Now, she reports from the reefs, wrecks and underwater sights of the Florida Keys. The latest DiverWire.com contributing writer has quite a story to tell and will be providing regular updates from the Florida Keys as part of her weekly column,  Dive Report by Divers Direct.

“I’d live my life in the Ocean if possible,” the St. Petersburg, FL native admits. “The adventures are endless; and, I’m fascinated by what I could encounter in the water. The entire reason I became certified was to swim with the sea turtles, the manatees and the other wondrous creatures. I’m naturally curious about viewing them in their surroundings.”

Josie’s other passion— local news. Josie obtained her PADI certification at the same time she was enrolled at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in Broadcast Television.

“Honestly, I decided to take the course as a gym credit. I knew I’d enjoy diving, but never thought the recreation would become part of my professional endeavors.”

Her degree placed her in positions anchoring the local news and hosting various shows at television stations in the Midwest. Her reports took her from the water to the air, flying planes and promoting local attractions a 1,000 miles away from the ocean.

Then, in 2006, after anchoring the CBS local evening news for years, her brother purchased a business in the fabulous Florida Keys, and recruited her down to run the Southernmost Weekly Newspapers’ office. Her first assignment was the Dive Report, brought to you by Divers Direct.

In 2009 Josie quickly became submerged in the Florida Keys waters, utilizing her USF degree and decade of broadcast news experience, to file feature stories from the ocean. Their news offices are unique in that they’re filled with regulators, BCD’s, masks, snorkels, and fins, all visible to visitors to the offices.

This season, as the Gulf Coast experiences the harrowing effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its impact on the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, dive reports have become paramount to promoting diving and clean water around the globe.

“I have our county commissioners, the sheriff, the U.S. Coast Guard sector commander, and our city manager all on speed dial. We are updating the crucial information hourly and making sure erroneous reports are not being sent out to mass multi-media outlets. Misinforming potential visitors and tourists could devastate businesses in the Keys. I’ve been diving recently and our ocean is pristine,” she says with conviction.

Josie continues, “I’ll continue to be in the water, not on shore, to keep the world informed of what is… and is not, in our water. Florida is my home; my brother and his family are here, our business is here, and I immensely enjoy working with my colleagues.  I don’t know what I did to deserve this assignment and this life, but somewhere along the lines, I must have done something right.”

Josie has logged dives in the Gulf of Mexico, Crystal River, Pennecamp State park, at the Christ of the Abyss, Sombrero Reef, Looe Key, and the Vandenberg Wreck. You can add her as a friend on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @ keyswestweekly.

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