By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Aug 13, 2015 at 4:28 PM

Laura Langemo doesn’t take herself too seriously. In fact, the FOX 6 Wakeup News reporter says her goal is to make viewers laugh a little while going through their morning routine, and to that extent, she’s willing to try just about anything for a great story.

Langemo, a Minneapolis native, came to Milwaukee in 2011 via a station in Duluth, and admits that she quickly fell in love with this city. Her job has allowed her to get to know Milwaukee really well, because even when jumping from a plane, Langemo lives by the mantra that you can’t die on live TV.

We caught up with the 30-year-old reporter over coffee recently, and discussed how she got to Milwaukee, where she wants to be, and what’s the secret to her heart.

Enjoy this latest Milwaukee Talks. Is it just me, or do I hear a Minnesota accent a little bit?

Laura Langemo: What's funny is when Minnesota people tell me I have a thick accent.

OMC: You’re from the Twin Cities, right?

LL: I grew up in a city called Brooklyn Park, just outside of Minneapolis. I have the most incredible family in the whole world; my mom and dad and my big sister – who were so patient because I was the most obnoxious child you could probably imagine. I was very high energy.

OMC: Did you always know that you wanted to be on TV when you grew up?

LL: Yeah, I just kind of decided in sixth or seventh grade that I wanted to be a news anchor or news reporter. I got involved in our high school TV station, called the "Rebel Report," because we were the Chapel Park Rebels. I directed and anchored shows and had a lot of fun doing it.

Then got involved in community access television … sorry, community programming. I went to community college for two years to save money and then transferred to Saint Cloud State. I worked at a cable access community programming station. I was a sideline reporter for football.

OMC: Were you trying to pursue a journalism path?

LL: I was, but at that point I was just trying to get as much on-air experience as I possibly could. I actually got an opportunity to anchor and produce a movie review show at another station in Champlin, Minn., just outside of the Twin Cities. It’s another community programming small station; I did that and had a blast. Then I transferred to Saint Cloud State University and got involved in their broadcast journalism program. We actually won a college Emmy.

OMC: Then what?

LL: I was a reporter in Duluth for six months there and then got promoted to anchor. I was anchoring by the time I was 22, 23 years old. Then I got the opportunity out here. The Midwest is home for me. Fox 6 called me in January 2011.

OMC: Had you been to Milwaukee before?

LL: I had never been here before. I started researching the city before I came down for the interview but I really didn't know much about it at all. I was just picturing industrial. When I came down and they took me around Downtown and the lakefront area I was super impressed. All my friends and family that have come down and visited have been really impressed with this city. It's just pretty.

OMC: Did FOX 6 bring you on at that point to be a general reporter?

LL: The job description said I could be salsa dancing one day and sky diving the next, and I was like, "that sounds awesome. Sign me up for that."

OMC: Is feature reporting more fun than doing hard news?

LL: For me, I enjoy doing both, but with the feature part, it's just nice highlighting the positive things in the city, and that's the thing that I really like about FOX 6: we have so many shows.

OMC: You work some pretty early hours. How is it that someone for in your very early 30s?

LL: It's kind of all I know really because I started working the morning shifts six months out of college.

OMC: Are you able to bounce back on the weekends?

LL: Yeah. I can sleep and sleep and sleep, but it’s hard for me to fall asleep …

OMC: When you’re repelling off a building or doing something extreme on camera, do you ever step back and wonder how this became your life?

LL: My goal every morning is to make people laugh. I want to make them want to watch. With the morning show, viewers have the TV on in the background, doing their morning thing, and they've got to stop what they're doing because I caught their attention and watch for a minute or two to see what I am up to today.

With the repelling thing, I probably would have never done that if it wasn't for TV. But it's like, "This will make awesome television, I have to do this." I always think, "Well, I can't really die, because we're on live TV."

OMC: Is there a different version of you on TV?

LL: I think I'm pretty much myself, and that's the thing that I like about this job. Whereas when I was in Duluth doing hard news, my family was always like, "That's not you and you're not being you." I couldn’t be at a fire and smiling, or at some horrific event and be me joking around, because you've got to be serious. My family just knows me for being goofy and funny and having a good time all the time, so I think I can be more myself in this position than when I'm doing hard news.

OMC: To that extent, Twitter is a great tool for people to inject more personality into their jobs, and you've embraced that. How do you use social media?

LL: I've found Twitter very helpful, and people have reached out to me about setting up segments through social media. So many people watch, and it's cool that people are watching and they're enjoying what you're doing and take time out of their own day to write you a nice message on Twitter.

OMC: You're a runner, also?

LL: Yeah, I try and get out and run as much as possible. I’ve never done a full marathon, but I've done a half marathon.

OMC: Would you like to stay here in Milwaukee?

LL: I think with me the most important thing is just to stay in the Midwest because then I'm close to my family. So I don't have the desire to go network, or go to New York, or L.A. or those really big markets, just because for me, my family and my best friends are the most important thing to me in my life.

OMC: Do you get to see your family occasionally?

LL: I try to get back. It's nice with Milwaukee because I can drive or I can fly. It's a drivable distance.

OMC: What have you learned about Milwaukee that you like? What's your favorite summer festival?

LL: I really like the Bastille Days. Another good one is Strawberry Fest in Cedarburg. German Fest is really fun. Irish Fest is really fun, too, but Bastille Days is probably my favorite festival.

OMC: Where’s your favorite place for happy hour?

LL: Since I live in Fox Point area, a lot of times I go to Bayshore. Downtown, I really like Café Benelux, sitting on the roof outside. Rustico is really good, too, right on the river. There's a sushi spot right by my place, Samurai. I can eat so much sushi. I love just to eat; eating is a passion.

OMC: Eating and running, check.

LL: That's one thing that will get my heart, is someone that can cook. I'm a horrible cook, I'm not domestic at all. But, I'll gladly clean the kitchen.

OMC: I have talked to men and women in the broadcast medium, and they are treated differently. Your female peers tell me they get a lot of letters about their hair.

LL: Oh yeah.

OMC: Has that happened to you?

LL: Yeah. Luckily, most of the time people will just comment on a bit like the live shot or something. But, yeah, sometimes it seems like people are paying more attention to how you look than what you're actually saying. I've gotten lots of letters from prisons, and people will sometimes write inappropriate things on Facebook.

OMC: So do you have to present an edited or redacted version of yourself online?

LL: Oh no. I use my real name. I'm just cautious when I put stuff on social media.

OMC: Does it seem strange to you that in 2015 that you still have to deal with filtering your stuff like that? Or, is that how it's always going to be?

LL: I like to think the majority of people are good people, but you're always going to have people out there that don't necessarily have good intentions. Women have come a long way. It's really great to see so many women in journalism and working so hard.

OMC: Do you think of yourself as a role model for young girls?

LL: Yes. One goal that I have to with my live shots is to try to be a role model for young women because I think a lot of people are scared to try something new because they think they're going to look stupid. I try something new every single day.

OMC: You put a wig this morning, for example.

LL: I try these crazy outrageous things every single day. A lot of times that's my real reaction or else I'm just kind of being goofy with it and just having a fun time. I think it's good for people to know it's OK to try new things. It's OK not to be the best at it. It's OK to laugh at yourself and just have fun with the situation and not be so worried about what people think and if you're going to fail.

OMC: Sounds like good career advice.

LL: Yeah. Just get out there and do it and just have fun. People are so serious all the time. Why not just laugh?

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.