Archive for October, 2009

Caffeine Crazy

It's double dose Friday!

It's Double Dose Friday!

There are few people on the morning shift at Fox Chicago who don’t drink coffee.  I have to have it – enough to get up extra early (2:38 a.m.) in order to grind Starbucks coffee beans and brew it fresh. On Friday afternoons, I often stop in at one of the gazillion Starbucks so I can refuel, stay awake and shift to “normal” hours for the weekend.

I’ve been a Starbucks addict for so long, “Starbucks” and “coffee” were among the first words my daughter could read!  It’s strange since I didn’t even try coffee until after I graduated from college.  My boss at TVB News in Hong Kong invited me to lunch soon after I moved over from the States.  It was a place where the waiters knew him so well, they knew what to serve and then naturally poured coffee for both of us after we ate.  I was too intimidated to admit I didn’t drink coffee.  And it wasn’t watery, starter coffee.  We were at a fancy, schmancy restaurant that served coffee so strong, it was opaque and almost syrupy. Whoa, was I flying after that lunch!

Among my daughter's first words.

Among my daughter's first words.

So now I start every day with what my husband calls “industrial strength” coffee.  On top of that, I used to drink just as much Diet Coke.  I would actually have one or two cans a day.  But I gave it up cold turkey about six months ago after talking with a nutritionist.  I switched to drinking water.  I suppose that balances out all the coffee, right?


10 2009

About Face

One can never have too many friends!

One can never have too many friends!

Like many people, I love facebook.  It’s great for connecting and re-connecting with friends, Fox Chicago viewers, former classmates and all sorts of people.  But I have a friendly dilemma.  I currently have 4,933 friends – not as many as many others but enough to start dreading the facebook limit of 5,000.

Morning anchor Jan Jeffcoat put it plainly, “Once you reach the limit, you’re screwed!  You can start a fan page but it’s not the same.”  Indeed, fan pages seem narcissistic and pretentious – and they don’t allow for the same kind of interaction as profile pages.  Other television news friends have told me to just start another facebook account under another name.

When I ran into a facebook executive at an event over the summer, I asked him about the friend limit.  He urged me to start a fan page as I urged him to lift the limit.  He later emailed to say, “Right now we will not allow users to exceed 5k friends. In the future you will be able to move your friends over to your fan page.  Sorry.”

Perhaps that’s why I’m spending more time making friends over on twitter.  While tweets are limited to 140 characters, I can have an unlimited number of friends.  At times, I feel I can use as many as I can get!


10 2009

Married to the Mob

Mizzou's amazing J-school.

Mizzou's amazing J-school.

Graduates of the journalism school at the University of Missouri, Columbia, are known to be members of the Mizzou Mafia.  They are everywhere in the news business and members include Russ Mitchell of CBS News, Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News and Jim Lehrer of PBS. Here in Chicago, there’s Ben Bradley of ABC7, Judy Wang of CLTV/WGN and my boss, Fox Chicago News Director Carol Fowler!

I graduated from the well-respected journalism school at the University of Oregon but I married into the Mizzou Mafia.  Although my husband is no longer in the news business, he enjoys heading back to see friends and former classmates.   Ahead of the big homecoming weekend (and the big loss to Texas in an ugly game), professor Jen Lee Reeves organizes a “Mizzou Mafia Real World Lunch” to allow journalism students to converse with those of us working in the real world of journalism.  Jen and I are always in touch through social media so I got the pleasure of being a part of the mob lunch.

Future journalists.

Future journalists.

I was quite impressed by students live blogging and tweeting with a #realworld hashtag during the event.  But, as they did, they heard about the grim situation in the real world. Some of the panelists had been laid off and they are looking for work.  The rest are working harder than ever. I stressed the underlying need to truly love writing and journalism.  Our business tools and avenues are changing but there will always be a need for effective storytellers and communicators.

My ongoing love for words has served me well during my career.  Though when I got out of J-school, I never envisioned that it’d also lead me to my own blog and an addiction to Facebook Scrabble.


10 2009

Picture Day

The "Good Day Chicago" gang with students from the IL Center for Broadcasting.

The "Good Day Chicago" gang with broadcasting students.

We’re used to television cameras around Fox Chicago but today we worked with just as many still cameras.  Right after “Good Day Chicago”, we all posed for pictures with students from the Illinois Center for Broadcasting.  Instructor Dan Allen brings students in to visit every semester.

Meteorologist Chris Sowers clearly missed the cue to strike a pose!

Meteorologist Chris Sowers clearly missed Patrick's cue to strike a pose!

Then web producer Mark Bieganski wanted new pictures of us for the station website.  The web team’s been working hard to keep the site fresh by updating content non-stop.  Unlike our newscasts, is always “on”.  I enjoy contributing, especially with my regular “Cool Websites” feature.

It's my trying-not-to-pose pose!

It's my trying-not-to-pose pose!

Whenever we have photo shoots (actually, even if it’s an event or party), Patrick Elwood never fails to insist on a funny picture.  Funny – they never seem to get used.


10 2009

Turn Here!

Today’s post “Thank Heaven for Little Stink Bombs” is over at the Chicago Moms Blog. Please surf over and check it out!  Thanks.


10 2009

Funeral of a Funeral Friend

Coletta Funeral Home on 31st Street

Coletta Funeral Home

Long before Chicago’s Chinatown became Chinatown, the corner of 22nd and Wentworth was home to the Michael Coletta Sons Funeral Home.  As Chinatown evolved, the Coletta family moved the operation to 79th Street.  About five years ago, the Coletta sons moved the business back towards Chinatown, settling on 31st Street near their childhood home and friends.

I met the twin sons, Michael and Mariano Coletta, at a Chinatown event.  They bid hundreds of dollars on a Fox Chicago studio tour with me to benefit the Organization of Chinese Americans.  They’ve been dear friends ever since.  Through the years, Patrick Elwood and I have grown to love them and their families – gathering for an annual holiday dinner that will never be the same.  When I tell people that some of my best friends from Chinatown are Italian, I’m not kidding!

Today, we gathered with the Coletta family for the funeral of Mariano, who most of us called “Morrie”. He died suddenly of a heart attack last week at the age of 66.  At the mass, I was touched to be told, “Nancy, come sit with us.  You are part of the family.” Tears were flowing as Morrie was remembered as an “instrument of happiness”.  It’s true. He was a born prankster – always kidding around about something.

I already miss Morrie.  I half expect one of his wacky phone calls at any minute.  I will never erase his number from my cell phone or the joy he brought to my life.


10 2009

A Short Story

A tiny tie!

A tiny tie!

I did a double take when I saw what Patrick Elwood was wearing today.  His 9-year-old son Marty had picked out his tie.  Not one of Pat’s ties.  His tie.  At least it wasn’t a clip-on!  No one could tell it was a child’s tie on television because he had his jacket buttoned for the newscast. Patrick is never short on love for his children.


10 2009

Outside In

Producers Beth Boylan & Roy Santoro:  Jackets required.

Producers Beth Boylan & Roy Santoro: Jackets required.

I arrived at work this morning to find just about everyone in the Fox Chicago newsroom all bundled up – as if they just walked in from our colder-than-average weather and then plopped down at their computers.  Wait, that’s because they did.  After weeks of relatively comfortable newsroom temperatures, a cold front had moved back in.

Anchor David Novarro makes it clear “I’d like it to go on record.  I don’t like it. I’d prefer to be comfortable.”  Co-anchor Jan Jeffcoat adds, “My fingers are frozen.  I can barely type!”

Roy estimates the room temperature is in the low 60′s.  He tells me, “Even my soul is cold and that’s a dark place.”  Without missing a beat, audio tech George Sarantos walks by and says, “What do you mean?  You have no soul!”

David and Jan in the studio/sauna.

David and Jan in the sauna-like studio.

I figured out one good source of warmth.  After printing out materials for my story assignment, I let everyone know “If you print things, they come out warm!”

Mark never lets you see him sweat!

Mark tracks the temperatures inside and out!

Soon after, David and Jan walked into another temperature extreme – the studio felt like a sauna.   Meterologist Mark Strehl has his jacket off.  But he keeps it nearby because he knows the newsroom cold front might move faster than anything on his weather radars.


10 2009

The Asian Equation

Oooooooo, we have:  National Board Rep Lorene Yu, Chapter Co-President Nancy Loo, Treasurer Sabrina Wu & Secretary Rui Kaneya.

Oooooooo, we have: AAJA National Board Rep Lorene Yue, Chapter Co-President Nancy Loo, Treasurer Sabrina Wu & Secretary Rui Kaneya.

I often wake up with the same anxious feelings I had back in high school and college.  Just like then, I have some kind of activity everyday.  Is this some kind of Asian habit?  It’s still amusing to me that I once served as President of my high school German Club! At the same time, I did cheerleading, gymnastics and student council. At all other times, I had to work at our family restaurant. I suppose watching my parents work so hard for so long made me eager to remain productive outside of work and school.

After work today, I presided over a board meeting for the Asian American Journalists Association.  I’ve been serving as chapter co-president for the past two years along with Rummana Hussain, a reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times.  Other board members include Lorene Yue of Crain’s Chicago, freelance journalists Sabrina Wu and Inggrid Yonata and Rui Kaneya of the Chicago Reporter.

2008 Trivia Bowl emcees:  Joanie Lum, me, Jan Jeffcoat, Ellee Pai-Hong & Angie Lau.

2008 Trivia Bowl emcees: Joanie Lum, me, Jan Jeffcoat, Ellee Pai-Hong & Angie Lau.

There is a lot of work to be done. We’re behind in planning our annual Trivia Bowl – pitting media and business people against each other as we raise money for student scholarship programs. The event is always great fun with interesting questions about current events and Chicago history. There’s also a lot of kidding and trash talkin’ between all the media outlets.  And now that the future of the Chicago Sun-Times is a little more secure, the paper’s team is eager to go for a three-peat as champions.

Also on the agenda today, chapter elections.  There will be a call for nominations soon.  I won’t be running.  But I’m already feeling anxious about what I’ll do with more free time.


10 2009

A Big, Big Check!

: One of many communities to

Thanks to great communities like Glendale Heights!

What a thrill today to hear that our Fox Chicago / Jewel-Osco Food Drive during Hunger Action Month raised nearly $2 million in donations!  Given our current economic climate, we didn’t expect to surpass last year’s total of $1.3 million. It’s heartwarming to know that people care about others even when they may also be in need.

Last month, Patrick Elwood and I met some amazing people while covering the food drive. From the man in Northwest Indiana who came out to donate a single can of beans to another man in the Southwest suburbs who added a single box of cereal, every little donation clearly added up.

All of it will benefit the Greater Chicago Food DepositoryNorthern Illinois Food BankFood Bank of Northwest IndianaMidwest Food Bank and River Bend Food Bank where volunteers have seen demand about double over the past year.

We proudly display the big check with    , Miguel Alba of Jewel-Osco & Dennis Smith of the Northern IL Food Bank.

Patrick and I proudly display the big check with our friends from Jewel-Osco & the Northern IL Food Bank.

To everyone who volunteered, to all the businesses that donated goods by the truckloads, to those who came out to donate into the bins during our live segments and to the countless others who donated during checkout at Jewel-Osco, THANK YOU!!!


10 2009