Okay, let's pretend. I'm going to give you a choice between two jobs. The salaries are the same.
Job #1 is at a station owned by a solid company with no money problems. It has an excellent photography staff, a News Director who is respected in the industry (and doesn't yell), and a fabulous on-air product. People who have left this station have gone on to great things, those who stay love the place. The city is a nice place to live.
Job #2 is at a station owned by a company whose name is often accompanied in the same sentence by the word "bankruptcy." The ND is a screaming lunatic, the photogs are working with horrible equipment. Morale is horrible, and it shows in the on-air product. The city is a war zone, and you'd feel uncomfortable driving through it in the daytime in a Hummer.
So which job did you take? No-brainer, huh?
Now let me add another factor. Job #1 is in market #40 while Job #2 is in market #20.
And if you're now re-thinking your decision, you're gonna get shot by the clue gun.
The one thing I've noticed about the younger generation is its obsession with market size. You all seem to think that bigger is better, that there is some magical elixir that comes with a lower number.
When it comes to quality of life and quality of product, market size means absolutely nothing. Sometimes you can learn a lot in market 100 and nothing in market 35. Sometimes bigger isn't better.
The other thing that seems to affect young people is what other young people have accomplished. If you see some reporter who is your age make it to a market higher than yours, you probably assume that a) that person is better than you; and b) that station is better than your current one. There are too many factors to consider in any hiring; the person may have worked cheap, the person may have fit the ND's needs, the person may wear incredibly short skirts. It doesn't matter.
What happens to someone else has no effect on your career. You simply need to concentrate on what will help your career and what will make you happy.
If your goal in life is tied to a market number, I feel sorry for you.
If your goal in life is to do rewarding work and be happy, don't attach that goal to a number. And don't worry about what anyone else has accomplished.