Shay McAlister has been part of the WHAS11 team since 2015, when she was given an incredible offer to come on as a reporter right out of the University of Missouri. Through years of reporting in Kentuckiana, her work has evolved and her role in the newsroom has changed but serving the community has always stayed at the heart of her stories.
Shay’s steadfast and relentless approach to journalism has led to federal accountability and legislative changes. In 2018, she launched the UNSOLVED series, which covers Kentucky’s cold cases and brings families closer to getting answers. Shay has led the coverage of the Bardstown mysteries, narrating the chart-topping podcast ‘BARDSTOWN’ in 2019. Her years-long investigation into nonprofit Wildlife in Need led to authorities stepping in to shut down the animal refuge, riddled with accusations of wrongdoing, and set the stage for new legal accountability for similar organizations. Shay's investigation was featured in the NETFLIX documentary series Tiger King in 2021.
She is always on scene during the community's "biggest" stories, including live protest coverage from Louisville's streets after the death of Breonna Taylor. Shay covered protests for months. She traveled to Mayfield in the hours after the Western Kentucky tornados, and stayed, working around the clock until every person was accounted for. She reported live from a boat when Louisville home owners were evacuating in the 2018 floods and waded through water on live TV, as the river rose, to show the community what was at stake.
But Shay says she is most proud of her work with the ACE Project. In 2015, she met grieving mother Rose Smith, at her son’s vigil. Smith’s son had been murdered the year before and Shay was sent to cover the story. It was an interaction that could have began and ended on that night. But, neither of the women let that happen. Instead, the two kept in touch for years, as Smith started a non-profit in her son’s honor. In 2017, Rose told Shay about her dream to build a community center on the property where her son was killed. With help from WHAS11's parent company TEGNA, Shay and Rose officially opened the neighborhood center called 'The ACE Place' in May of 2019. Shay serves as Board President and Chair of the ACE Project today.
Since moving to Louisville, Shay has been awarded two Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, five Emmy Awards and numerous AP Awards including ‘Best TV Reporter.’
She was born in Dallas, TX, but moved often while growing up- living in Miami, FL, Munich, Germany, Breckinridge, CO and Columbia, MO before moving to Kentucky. "Now Louisville has my heart ," Shay said.
Shay lives in Louisville with her rescues- Juniper the dog and Monday the cat.