Last July, longtime Triangle news anchor Pam Saulsby purged her home of all televisions. At the time, she was still employed as the co-anchor of WNCN’s evening and nightly newscasts, but two months later, Saulsby announced via Instagram that she had been fired from WNCN after having been there for only two years, following a 20-year run at the station’s competitor, WRAL.

Around that time, another announcement concerning another African-American broadcast journalist named Pam—Fox Sports sideline reporter Pam Oliver—came to light: After 20 years on the gridiron sideline, she was to be replaced by the younger Erin Andrews. What these two share other than a first name is that they seem to be victims of a shifting broadcast industry, where media companies are opting to put younger (and sometimes lighter-skinned) reporters on the air.

What they don’t share, however, is employment status: Oliver simply moved to Fox’s secondary sports channel, while Saulsby left the industry altogether. But the ever-resilient Saulsby isn’t sulking about any of it. Now, she has time put her efforts into other endeavors, like advocating for military families and, most important, recording music. “Brand New Day” is Saulsby’s latest single; it shifts her subtler jazz leanings into jook-joint sassiness and badass blues retribution.

This Thursday, she and collaborator Nick Driver perform that song and more in front an intimate crowd at Raleigh’s Saints & Scholars. Saulsby spoke to the INDY about collaborating, life after TV and J. Cole versus Idris Elba.

INDY: Was this song recorded as a way to address you leaving WNCN?

PAM SAULSBY: The song was recorded in December. I left WNCN in August. It’s not like it’s a really long song, but there’s enough in there to let me be true to who I really am. There was a lot of freedom in that. When you’re in corporate broadcast journalism, there’s a certain line that you have to walk. You have to be neutral in all things and not really have an opinion. You leave it up to the people who are watching to form their own opinions. It was definitely born out of leaving my last job, but the feel of it has always been there. I just had to keep it deep down inside.

This song, by nature, is a very uplifting and inspirational tune, but there’s something badass about it, too.

Oh yes. [Laughs.] My friends are sick of me talking about how the struggle is real. They just roll their eyes now because they’ve become immune to the impact of having real empathy for me. I’m saying that a little tongue-in-cheek, because, if I didn’t have my immediate family in this thing with me, I’d be in a world of trouble, a world of hurt, a world of pain. They are the rocks.

But they do hear me talking a lot about the struggle. But I’m going through the struggle and talking about it, and I’m a grown woman. I’m gonna do this, or I’m gonna say that. Even though I didn’t write the song, the songwriter had heard enough of me going on a rant.

Who wrote the song?

Nick Driver, who is a Johnston County/Raleigh/Triangle singer-songwriter. He’s been at it for years. He’s evolved over time. It’s been real heavy rock and then it can get acoustic indie. It runs the gamut, which I like, not just for Nick, but for myself—to be genre-bending. I would hate for people to say, “Oh, she’s the jazz singer.” No, I did jazz songs because I do love jazz, but I don’t want that one genre to define me.

“Brand New Day” is taking me out of the box and taking me out of my comfort zone. I recorded and released two albums, but the songs were really pretty songs. Nothing was risky or on the line. I feel good about “Brand New Day” because I’m being true to myself. There’s something real powerful about that. I’ve come to that late in life. I was in local television news for 30 years, but now I’m at a place where I can take some chances, call the shots, have fun.

Are the song’s opening lyrics—“I made my name on a TV show/Some people change, some stay the same”—directed at anyone or any entity in particular?

It’s not directed at a person. It’s directed more at corporations and media conglomerates. I was at a really, really big station, then I went to a smaller station and had an opportunity to get more of a peek behind the wizard’s curtain. I saw an evolution of things moving in a direction that I did not agree with. I understand that TV, news, radio and media is a business. But then it becomes a question of “At what cost?” What’s happening now is that there’s too much emphasis put on giving people what they want and less on giving people what they really need. It surprises me that what’s trending or how many clicks or likes something gets becomes a driving influence in what is presented on the air.

Time is key, and you do 15–20 seconds and then you move on to the next thing. When you try to push back against that, then you’re not a team player. I had a different point of view, so I was the one who changed. I needed to change because I was not in a space or a place where I felt like I was doing my best work. There were many days when I felt like I let down a lot of people who trusted me and respected me for what I was bringing to the anchor desk. I told them three sentences about a story, and I would find myself trying to sneak in some word of perspective or context. That could come back to bite you.

I am finding ways to continue to be a journalist and research and articulate and make sure that the things I care about and other people care about get heard. But I haven’t been able to make it a priority because I don’t have a steady job. I’m doing all kinds of stuff. I’m busy, but nothing steady in terms of a paycheck. I’m all good with that.

Pam Saulsby – “A Brand New Day To Be Alive” – Photo Shoot Behind-the-scenes Video from Rob Underhill on Vimeo.

Back to the whole idea of “badass being an apt description of the Pam Saulsby behind “Brand New Day”: In the behind-the-scenes video for the song, it looks like you’re trying to show more skin than you normally would.

Right? So, there was skin showing, but the actual artwork for that single is nothing like what was in the behind-the-scenes video. That was kind of out there, but I still felt protected and grounded. It wasn’t enough skin to bother me. But the artwork for the song required more swag. I think the last time I showed my stomach was when my 29-year-old was a very young child. I know some people are probably saying, “That’s too much. What has happened to that woman?” And I know that there are people that say something completely opposite. But I felt like a song like that requires a certain look. It’s representative of the new parts of me. I am transforming on so many different levels. I want people to know me more than what they did before. Like Johnnie Walker Black. That’s my drink!

On the rocks or neat?

Oh, neat. Don’t mess with it. Ain’t got time for that.

You talk a lot about J. Cole on social media. What draws you to him?

Oh my gosh, I can not stop playing his new stuff. The first thing that caught me was that he’s from The Ville [Fayetteville]. So, I’m loving that someone local has made it so far. His star is rising and continues to rise. The things that he speaks about are his life. He’s very real about the things that have happened to him and the things that he’s trying to do. People might look at me and not see hip-hop, but J. Cole speaks to me, too.

Who speaks to you more, J. Cole or Idris Elba?

Oh, oh, oh! You know what? I was sitting down, and now I have to stand up because you’ve put something out there. First of all, I have evolved from everything being about Denzel. Idris Elba can breathe life into his fans just be walking and saying a few words. He’s had an evolution from The Wire to Luther. I think that if … nevermind. [Laughs.]

As you said in the song, “Ain’t got no time for boys, but I’ll make time for a man.”