Reporter Darcy Pohland had her coworkers at WCCO-TV rolling with laughter Wednesday as she wrote the script for "Good Questions: Why Are Jingles So Catchy?" a feature that aired that evening.
On Friday morning, those co-workers were thrown into shock and grief when they learned that their friend, a longtime, intrepid and popular reporter at WCCO, had died in her sleep overnight. She had not been feeling well in the past week, friends and co-workers said.
Pohland, 48, one of only a few paraplegic reporters in the TV news business, never let her wheelchair get in the way of covering a story.
"She was the heartbeat of the station, and in many ways the heartbeat of the community," WCCO-TV General Manager Susan Adams Loyd said Friday during an appearance on WCCO Radio's "Mondale and Jones" show. "She was never afraid to ask the hard questions or tackle the tough issues. She exuded energy in everything she did. The speed at which she moved at all times, despite the disability -- it was a nonissue for her in how she approached her job."
Pohland grew up in Mendota Heights and graduated from Henry Sibley High School.
According to a biography posted at wcco.com, her favorite word was "perseverance," and she exhibited that quality after a 1983 diving accident that broke her neck and left her paralyzed from the chest down. After five months at the University of Minnesota's Rehabilitation Center, she moved into an apartment and resumed classes at the U.
Pohland served as an intern at WCCO in 1983 and worked in the station's Washington, D.C., bureau while attending George Washington University. Three years later, after she graduated from the University of Minnesota, the station hired her at $4 an hour.
After holding such jobs as assignment desk assistant, planning editor and dispatcher, she was promoted to reporter in 1994 and went on to cover hundreds of general assignment news and feature stories.
Her last story aired Wednesday when she filled in for Jason DeRusha on the Good Questions segment.
"She had us laughing so hard as she was writing the story," said WCCO reporter Esme Murphy. "She was just a joy."
Pohland will be remembered for her "bright, sparkly eyes and ear-to-ear smile," Adams Loyd said.
A sports enthusiast, Pohland was a diehard Vikings and Golden Gophers fan. She also loved figure skating, musical theater, books and her two Tonkinese cats, Cleo and Kai, according to her biography.
"She was a wonderful person," Murphy said. "The world is a dimmer place because of this."
She is survived by two brothers. Her mother died last month.
Services are pending.