Milwaukee Talks: "Morning Blend" co-host Molly Fay
Chicago native Molly Fay didn't expect to host a talk show. But the former investigative journalist, mother of three and self-described introvert, found herself doing just that eight years ago when WTMJ-4 launched "The Morning Blend," and she hasn't looked back.
We caught up with Fay over coffee last week to discuss where she's been and where she's going. And why every person, even if their job seems mundane, has a story to tell.
Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee.com: I was a little surprised to learn that you went down the path of a serious investigative journalism.
Molly Fay: I did.
OMC: This could not have been your career path in journalism. Where did you go to school?
MF: I went to Madison, and then I went to the University of Missouri at Columbia. In high school, my dream was always to be a "60 Minutes" correspondent. When I went to journalism school we had to take an oath. We saw it as being as serious as a doctor not sharing medical records. I pursued investigative journalism hardcore. I took some really advanced courses in reporting, and I was a member of I.R.E, the Investigative Reporters and Editors organization. My first job was in Beaumont, Texas. I had the cop in the courthouse beat.
OMC: That's serious stuff.
MF: I was always working. I broke a story in my first year that was on CBS Morning News. My whole focus was to find people who were doing bad stuff, and expose them. And I was passionate about it. And I loved it. But it's a lifestyle. You give everything to it. It's very hard to raise a family, and very hard to have a life.
OMC: Yeah, it's really suited to early 20s single person.
OMC: But you decided at some point this wasn't for you?
MF: I did it for years. It was my whole career. After Beaumont, I moved to Scranton, Penn., and I did some consumer reporting. Then I came to Milwaukee when FOX 6 was in its transition from CBS to FOX. Around 30, I got married, had kids and I realized that lifestyle was not going to work for me.
OMC: So what did you do then?
MF: I had one child, and I had two more, when I left FOX 6 I took a job with Channel 4. I went into sales and worked part-time. Most reporters can't work full-time. The reason I did that was because I had friend who was in a job share, and she loved it, at Today's TMJ 4. The concept of a job share, working part-time, for me outweighed everything else, including what I was doing. I will say the experience that I got working in the sales department, and the managers who took a chance on me because I had no experience, it was one of the single best experiences of my life. Because it's so different than journalism.
OMC: Did you have an urge to get back into on air-stuff? Or did they approach you for the "Morning Blend?"
MF: They were going to start this show. And my boss said I'd be a perfect fit for it. And I was very reluctant to go back to working five days a week again. The only way I would even consider it is if there's some flexibility.
OMC: There is, right?
MF: I'm truly blessed with a lot of flexibility and a lot of understanding, both from him as well as the executive producer. Because I feel, like, at the end of the day, you know, I want to do a great job on "The Morning Blend." But there's only one job that I have in life that I have to be good at, and that's being a mom.
OMC: Tell me what a typical day in your life is like. You don't have a traditional schedule, like other people do.
MF: I leave the house about 7:15. And that's if I'm getting to work on time, I try to get there at 7:30. I get up, especially during the school year, hours before that, because I have to get myself ready. But I have three kids who need lunches and whatever homework we didn't get done the night before. Or they're off to a choir practice or something early. My day starts about 7:30. It's mostly going over that day's show. In the morning I'm completely focused on that day's show. Then we do the show for an hour, from 9 to 10, and then after the show it's looking ahead, or it's planning for tomorrow.
OMC: I know that your producer Kim Buchanan is a big part of it, and obviously your co-host Tiffany Ogle is too, but are you kind of the quarterback of the show because of your journalism experience?
MF: I'm considered a producer of the show, because I write for the show. I write some of the segments. I help coordinate with guests to produce their segments, make them visual, make them interesting. I produce the show. But I would say, in terms of the actual hosting of the show, it's a 50/50 deal. It's like a marriage. Some days I'm giving 100 percent when I feel good, and Tiffany's having a bad day. But other days it's the opposite. I feel very lucky to work with somebody who, not only is so confident and funny, because we think she's hilarious, but also someone I truly feel is a very close friend.
OMC: The rapport is obvious on the air. Maybe you can fake that, but it sure doesn't appear to be fake.
MF: I don't know if you can fake it. I wouldn't be able to fake it. Tiffany maybe could a little bit with her pageant experience. That question I'm asked more often, when I'm out, than any other question.
OMC: People ask if you really like each other?
MF: The other day we went for a walk, and then we went out to dinner in Shorewood, close to where she lives. And this woman ran into her, she's like, "Oh, I'm such a fan of your show! You guys actually hang out?"
OMC: That's kind of weird.
MF: You think?
OMC: A lot of on-air people, radio or TV, certainly do not hang out.
MF: But we text more than we talk on the phone, because she's in her 30s. We see each other outside of work.
OMC: Your resume obviously lends to doing this job in a very different way. Coming up with a serious journalism background, you are also producing advertorials.
MF: Right, yes. We don't hide that. What I tell people is that our show is a local program that offers local businesses an extremely unique opportunity to highlight what they do in a way that no other show in the market does. And I feel good about it. I was in sales. Businesses are the bread and butter of every single thing we do. I want local businesses to succeed. They can't always get their message across in 30 seconds in a television commercial.
OMC: Is it hard for you to get excited about gutter guards?
MF: Absolutely not. Have you met Nutsy the Squirrel?
OMC: That's exactly what Tiffany said.
MF: It's true, though. We both say that. Here's the thing. My boss even marvels sometimes at the way we seem to get excited about gutters or windows or roofing, whatever it is. The way I see it is it's my job to find something interesting about everybody who is on the show. Whether they paid to be there, or they're you and we invite you as a guest, because we love what you add.
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