WORDS Paul Polycarpou
PHOTOGRAPH Jerry Atnip
For the past twenty-seven years, Vicki Yates has been keeping us in the loop about what is going on in our town … the good, the bad, and the ugly. She has seen Nashville morph from the nation’s best-kept secret to one of its fastest growing cities. We checked in with her to find out what condition our condition is in.
“I’ve never understood why so many women have a problem with the word feminist. Who wouldn’t want a woman to have the same rights that men have.”
What brought you to Nashville?
I was offered the job at News Channel 5 twenty-seven years ago. I was in Pittsburgh at KDKA prior to this. Turned out to be a good move.
So what keeps you here?
I love Nashville. I didn’t think I would when I first got here. Back then the city’s image was all country music and Hee Haw, but in reality it was a lot more cosmopolitan than that. Nowhere near where it is today though.
How do you feel about the incredible growth Nashville is experiencing right now?
I like it but I don’t. I almost want to go to the edges of the city and shout out, “Ok, we’re full, no more please!” It’s changing things very quickly. Change is good, but there are some things you just don’t want to lose in a city. That’s what I worry about. Nashville was always a great secret. It’s not a secret anymore.
If you were the mayor with a magic wand, what changes would you make?
Gentrification is a big problem for me. When old neighborhoods are leveled and everybody is forced out and three houses are put up where there used to be only one, that just changes the whole landscape. So I would keep an eye on all the development. And I don’t understand why all the apartments and condos look alike. Every single one looks like it was done by the same architect. Surely someone somewhere has a new idea.
What’s a great night out for you?
Going to TPAC and seeing a really good play.
Do you have a favorite restaurant?
Oh my, there are so many new ones. I like City House, but there are several others.
Who is a hero to you?
My sister, Michele Yates. She’s extremely creative and intelligent. And although we sometimes disagree . . . we’re each other’s biggest cheerleaders. When I was a little girl, I swore she hung the moon.
What’s a favorite word?
Kerfuffle, not to be confused with covfefe.
What was the last great book you read?
I just finished A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. An inspirational read.
What talent would you most like to have?
I’d like to be musical. Play an instrument.
What’s a treasured possession?
A charm bracelet left to me by my mother.
What’s your greatest extravagance?
I like to travel, and I like to buy shoes. I can’t resist them.
Are you a night owl or a morning person?
Definitely a morning person. I like to get going in the morning, get things done.
What are you really good at?
I’m a very good listener. People seem to open up to me. I think I would have been a good therapist.
And what are you bad at?
I’m at a point in my life where I don’t suffer fools gladly. I don’t have a lot of patience with small-minded people.
What is your greatest fear?
That I’ll have to depend physically on someone other than myself as I get older.
What is the one thing you’d like to change about yourself?
I’d like to be disciplined when it comes to my creative writing.
What’s your greatest regret?
That I didn’t interview my grandparents about our family history.
What’s the hardest part of what you do?
Meeting people with sad stories who I can’t help.
Are you a feminist?
Without a doubt. I’ve never understood why so many women have a problem with the word feminist. Who wouldn’t want a woman to have the same rights that men have?