Milwaukee Talks: CBS 58 news anchor Shari Dunn
Podcast: CBS-58's Shari Dunn talks about how Milwaukee has changed in the last 10 years
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Shari Dunn, the new morning anchor of the CBS 58 morning news, didn't follow the regular career path that most reporters take to wind up working in their hometown.
Before the Nicolet High School and Marquette University graduate landed a job in TV in Milwaukee, she worked as an attorney and lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and New York City. After a spot on "Oprah" and an appearance on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," Dunn decided it was time for a career change.
Dunn says she literally had a "what do you really want to do?" moment -- and decided wha she wanted to do was TV.
Dunn began freelance reporting for Court TV, and eventually landed at the NBC affiliate in Tyler, Texas, using the experience she accumulated as a Madison news intern in college. Finally, this fall, she applied for a job with WDJT-TV in Milwaukee and stepped behind the anchor desk just a few weeks ago.
We caught up with Dunn in the latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: Before you tell me how you wound up back in Milwaukee, tell me your story about Oprah.
Shari Dunn: When I was in New York, I knew this girl who owned a dating coffeehouse. Oprah had contacted her about the concept. They have these books and when you see someone cute, you tell the staff. They set up the meeting at the coffeehouse, so you don't have to give out your information. I met (the owner) casually, and she asked me if I would agree to be one of the dates. I said, sure that would be fun. I did the date, and the producer on the Oprah show said she really liked me, and asked if I would try four more dating services. They'd fly me to Chicago, and I'd explain to Oprah and Gayle (King) how it all works. I was like, OK. I couldn't have asked for that. So I did this half-hour segment of me sitting up with her.
OMC: Did you maintain your connection with Oprah?
SD: No, not really.
OMC: The Nicolet High School thing didn't help?
SD: No, it didn't do much for me.
OMC: Did you find love from the coffeehouse?
SD: No, I did not, but it was a good platform for me. Alas, I still have not found love. Still looking, by the way.
OMC: Then what?
SD: This woman from Court TV contacted me and had seen me on Oprah. She asked if I wanted to do some legal commentary for them about divorces and celebrities. I said sure. That got me on air and talking. At that time I also got an agent. I went out and did some demo things to go with my Court TV experience. I knew I really wanted to pursue broadcasting but I was really going to need money. I decided to go on to the daytime edition of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"
SD: It was totally crazy, but I did. You take this test and after you pass they interview. The girl who was interviewing wasn't feeling me, but the girl next to her was. I won enough money that I didn't have to work for the next two years.
OMC: How much did you win?
SD: I don't like to say. I did not win $1 million, but I won a lot.
OMC: What question did you end on?
SD: I'll never forget that. Which Broadway musical was the first to win a Grammy? I had really studied for this, and I knew the answer. I had won before the question, and I got totally out of focus. I got up and yelled "Oklahoma," and it was. I sold my apartment in New York and moved to Los Angeles and lived there for two years. I did a lot of freelance work.
OMC: That led you to your first anchoring job in Tyler, Texas. What was that like?
SD: It was market 108. Milwaukee is 35. I was in Tyler for two and a half years. They brought me in because of my experience as an attorney, but my reel was good. I was the main anchor at 5 and 10 p.m.
OMC: There's a big difference from anchoring and being a legal analyst, right?
SD: They put me behind the desk, and it worked. For me, anchoring comes natural. I've always had an aptitude for it. I love to report, too. This skills necessary to being a reporter -- all these are skills that being a lawyer has given me. It was good for me, and I think it was good for them ... but then I had an opportunity to come back to Milwaukee.
OMC: Tell me how that happened.
SD: As always, I'm trying to look ahead. About a year ago, I began looking aggressively with my agent. Over Thanksgiving, I learned of a position here at CBS-58, and I had an audition, sat behind the desk. It went really well, and I got called back. I've been here four weeks, because I didn't want to leave Tyler on two weeks' notice.
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Milwaukee is so fortunate to have Shari Dunn on their team. She is one of the most pleasant newspersons on the air. Her demeanor is calm and refreshing and she always has that cute, little smile. We certainly miss her back in East Texas. Ms. Dunn, it would so kind if you would set up a Twitter account (like Gillian Sheridan) so that your fans could continue to hear your comments. Thanks for being such a quality lady.
I can't believe Jerry Springer was a lawyer, that is shocking. Dunn is cute, articulate, and brings something new to 58. I like it. I may just get up early and watch!
She should probably just go ahead and file that restraining order against Sijan Heights right now.
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