It’s news to us!
Broadcast news anchors weathering the coronavirus storm from the confines of their apartments or houses have no choice but to offer peeks into their personal spaces during their broadcasts.
Read on for what five New York-area anchors have to say about lifting the curtain to their living rooms, and beyond.
Savannah Sellers, NBC
For the past several weeks, Snapchat users have noticed Savannah Sellers — the host of NBC’s “Stay Tuned,” the daily news show that appears on that mobile platform — seated in a temporary, yet cozy, studio. It’s the two-bedroom apartment in the East Village that she shares with her boyfriend, investment analyst Alex Yaraghi.
As seen in her broadcasts, her perch features a stacked bookcase and an exposed brick wall leading to an open kitchen where she keeps fresh flowers on the counter.
“I’m lucky that the grocery store I go to carries them and continues to have them,” the 28-year-old Sellers, who’s also a correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, says of the blooms, which include white roses. “[They] brighten it up a bit.”
Most of all, even in the small frame, Sellers’ viewers are getting a peek into her life.
“It’s nice to show me as a whole person and a personality that can’t come out in a studio just reading the news,” she says.
I’m lucky that the grocery store I go to carries [flowers] and continues to have them. … [They] brighten it up a bit.
“It felt nice to have a little piece of Italy, where I was supposed to be going in a couple weeks,” she adds. “They remind me of what Italy’s going through,” in terms of that nation’s own battle with the coronavirus, and “what we’re all going through.”
As for the books, Sellers is happy to show titles by her friends at work, like Katy Tur’s “Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History” and Steve Kornacki’s “The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism.”
The social-media response from her followers has been positive. A March Instagram upload showing off this corner of her apartment — with comments including “Obsessed with your space!” and “Love how the books are color-coordinated!” — helped connect her with her audience. And that comes at a time when many, in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, are also at home.
“It makes you feel like we’re all dealing with this together,” she says. “I think it’s nice we’re in solidarity.”
Dana Perino, Fox
Though she sits in front of a screen for her weekday broadcasts, Dana Perino — the anchor of Fox News Channel’s “The Daily Briefing” and co-host of “The Five” — is surrounded by familiar comforts. Working from her five-bedroom beach home in Bay Head, NJ, the biggest one is her dog Jasper, an 8-year-old Hungarian Vizsla, who’s known to make the occasional broadcast appearance.
“He’ll look right in the camera,” she says.
It’s a comfortable place to be … [but] I will be glad once we’re back for sure.
“I didn’t have him on set with me,” says the 47-year-old former White House press secretary, but he was “sniffing under the bed and getting close to some wires,” she adds of Jasper’s precarious trek. Luckily, nothing came crashing down.
Generally, while Perino broadcasts from the guest bedroom, her husband Peter McMahon will keep the pooch downstairs, or her assistant will keep him in another room.
“He’s really quiet,” says Perino, and that’s in large part thanks to McMahon taking Jasper for long walks to give him exercise.
Elsewhere in the home — which is adorned with blue and coral tones, as well as white linens on the beds — Perino will prepare for her segments while standing at her kitchen island. The home also features a porch where Jasper likes to sit and a game table in her living room where Perino solves puzzles with her husband while listening to music playing on vintage stereo equipment.
“It’s a comfortable place to be,” she says, but she admits she’ll welcome reality when she returns to the studio. “I will be glad once we’re back for sure.”
Bob Pisani, CNBC
On his second day of working from home — feeling weighed down by the “grim” tone of coronavirus-related coverage — CNBC stocks correspondent Bob Pisani had a simple thought for improving the general mood.
“I decided to use my posters as a backdrop to provide a little color and lightness to balance the steady stream of bad news,” says the 64-year-old.
By posters, he means an array of vibrant, and original, rock concert posters that he’s collected for more than 30 years. His rotating display includes everything from Jimi Hendrix to Soundgarden, and from the Grateful Dead to Duran Duran, that appear behind him when he shoots from his home’s second-floor study — 90 miles from where he shoots at the New York Stock Exchange.
“The Twitter traffic just exploded — I was very surprised at how interested people were,” says Pisani of the feedback he quickly received from viewers. “I think people are interested in a bit of a distraction from all the news and watching … what’s behind [newscasters] and how it may reveal a little bit of their personality.”
“A little bit” being the operative phrase, as Pisani declines to say where he lives. “Like most financial reporters, I’m fairly private and usually stick to reporting the news,” he says.
Other than journalism, music is Pisani’s other great love — having seen Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead and the Grand Funk Railroad. “It just always made me feel good,” he says, and it’s no surprise the passion also bleeds into acquiring posters — which he’ll do, in part, at conventions each fall in San Francisco. His knowledge of their history is encyclopedic, especially of posters from the 1960s and the artistic styles behind them.
“I think these artists are like the Toulouse-Lautrecs of their age,” he says of the French artist whose posters famously captured the essence of 1890s Paris. “These artists were active in the 1960s and invented Psychedelia, which had a profound impact on the visual style of the 1960s.”
Vladimir Duthiers, CBS
“If I’m not afraid to show it to a visitor, then I’m generally not afraid to show it to our viewers,” says CBS’ Vladimir Duthiers of his Upper West Side two-bedroom. But within his first few days of broadcasting from this perch, which the 50-year-old shares with his fiancee Marian Wang, a senior news producer at “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” Wang requested that a small photo of Michelangelo’s nude “David” sculpture be removed from their refrigerator door.
“‘Maybe we don’t want that photo [there],’ ” Duthiers — a “CBS This Morning” and CBS News correspondent, and a CBSN anchor — recalls her saying, adding that a full-frontal nude shouldn’t appear on air. “‘It’s a morning show after all.’ ”
Still, Duthiers says he opts to broadcast his segments from various locations in the apartment as a way to connect with his audience.
“I was a viewer and consumer of news all my life,” he says. “I do have a sense of what it’s like to watch Anderson Cooper … and think ‘maybe he likes the same books that I like,’ or ‘maybe he’s interested in the same hobbies I am.’ You want to have a connection with the person you’re consuming media from.”
You want to have a connection with the person you’re consuming media from.
“Wherever I go, wherever I move, I always take them with me,” he says, adding that, while moving around a lot as a child, they were a constant — and, with regards to his collection of biographies (like those on Eleanor Roosevelt and Muhammad Ali), his inspiration to become a journalist. “They’re really a big part of my life.”
Other shooting angles show pieces of art he bought in South Africa from artist Ezequiel Mabote — and, beyond reaching out to Duthiers to comment on his guitars and book collection — viewers have reached out to get the creator’s name.
“He’s probably selling a lot of art right now,” Duthiers quips.
The general dialogue with viewers keeps Duthiers going.
“There’s a connection you make with somebody without having spoken to that person,” he says. “It goes beyond the reporting you’re doing on air — it’s something visceral and human.”
Jamie Stelter, NY1
NY1’s Jamie Stelter holds the phone up to her nearly 3-year-old daughter Sunny and asks where the 38-year-old traffic reporter and “Mornings on 1” co-host has been working lately.
“It’s Bubby’s room,” says Sunny, of Stelter’s third bedroom where she and her husband, CNN anchor Brian Stelter, have her parents stay when they visit their Columbus Circle apartment.
Now, it’s a television studio. For her broadcasts, Stelter sits in front of a screen inside that shows the New York City skyline — but viewers can still get the occasional peek of Stelter’s family life on their televisions. She’s had the kids come on air a couple Fridays in a row.
“It’s not a secret that I have two tiny children who are at home with me,” she says. “I love that they came on camera, I’m sure they’ll appear more when it’s appropriate. There’s a line also … just in terms of work/life separation.”
I love that [my children] came on camera, I’m sure they’ll appear more when it’s appropriate.
“I’m doing all kinds of mom things that I would do on the weekends, and now it’s a seven-day-a-week thing,” says Stelter. “We’re falling into … rhythms with it now.”
At first, she explained to the kids she’d have to stay in the spare bedroom to do work, but that she’d be back soon. (Brian stays with them during her broadcasts.)
Now, she says, “There’s a little more understanding of this is what goes on.”
Even Brian, who sets up Stelter’s at-home anchor kit at 5 each morning, has had to adjust. Stelter says he’d previously straggle into the room half-asleep — but it’s been easier for him lately to set up her lights and camera.
“He’s not a morning person, and that’s okay,” she says.
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