Kristen Welker’s New Gig: Hanging Out With the Obamas

The Philly native and NBC10 alum joined the White House press corps

It’s official. NBC10 alum Kristen Welker (Germantown Friends Class of ‘94) has taken up residence at the White House.

More specifically, the White House press room, where Welker will cover the Obama administration, full time, for NBC. Having filled in there since June, she joined Chuck Todd and Mike Viqueira on the prestigious beat last week.

“I was really surprised,” says Welker, 35, who began at NBC in August 2010 as a Burbank-based correspondent. “There were a number of different options on the table–go back to Burbank; go to another bureau; cover a Republican candidate. “

Instead, she’s traveling the world with the Obamas and getting max face time on all NBC platforms. Tough break for a Harvard grad.

Hardly. For Welker, occupying a press cubicle at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. is her life’s dream. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a White House correspondent,” she says. “This is the most exciting moment of my life.”

Welker’s typical workday runs from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and she’s on call 24/7.   Earlier this month, she travelled to Burma with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In June, it was South Africa with First Lady Michelle Obama, and in May, she accompanied the president throughout Europe for the G8 Summit.

Welker’s real initiation, however, occurred stateside a few weeks ago, when Obama called on her at an impromptu press briefing. It was her first time. She was the No. 3 questioner, after CNN’s Ed Henry and Ben Feller of Associated Press.

“It was incredibly exciting,” she recalls. “It felt like a new level of being; like I was actually a member of the White House press corps at that moment … I knew I wouldn’t have been called on if I hadn’t put in so much time in being at the White House.”

Speaking of putting in time, Welker is the latest product of the WCAU-NBC News pipeline—an impressive list that includes anchorstar Brian Williams, Today cohost Matt Lauer and news-division president Steve Capus.

Is there fairy dust sprinkled on that side of City Avenue, or what?

“I don’t know if it’s fairy dust, but I do think about the connection,” says Welker, the only child of Fairmount realty dynamo Julie Welker. “I think it’s proximity. Philadelphia is close to New York, so New York has its eye on Philadelphia.”

Unlike most of her species, Welker says being a network anchor is not her ultimate ambition. “This is all I ever wanted to do. My goal right now is to become a great White House correspondent. If NBC would have me, I’d be happy to be here for years and years.”

As for what she wants for Christmas, that’s easy. “To break a really big story from the White House.”