By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Dec 16, 2009 at 9:07 AM

Susan Kim started at WTMJ-TV Channel 4 in 1994 on the assignment desk as a reporter. She's covered Milwaukee since then. Her easy-going style, sense of community and family have made her a Brew City TV favorite.

Now on "Live at Daybreak" beginning daily at 5 a.m., Kim and co-anchor Vince Vitrano share the stories of the day and their lives with viewers, and she uses Twitter.

Kim lives in Wales with her husband and three kids but finds plenty of time explore Milwaukee, dine out and take in her old stomping grounds in the Third Ward. But how does she balance early mornings, family and other priorities? We asked this and more.

Learn more about Kim in this edition of "Milwaukee Talks." You've been at Channel 4 now for 15 years. That's a long time. What's changed the most in your time in Milwaukee and your time in Milwaukee media?

Susan Kim: The whole city, especially Downtown. I remember when I first came to Milwaukee for my job interview.  I thought it came off as kind of a working class town. I remember the roads -- does anybody fix the roads around here (laughter), because the freeway was all bumpy.

But, honestly, Milwaukee was really pretty. On my interview tour they took me around and they showed me the lake, and some things Downtown.  I just thought "what a pretty city." I feel like it's changed a lot since then -- just in terms of what there is to do, the development, the kind of people who live here. It's really a lot more cosmopolitan than a lot of people think it is.

OMC: Where were you before Milwaukee?

SK: I lived in Anchorage, Alaska. Right out of college I went to Juneau, Alaska, for three months. And then I moved to Anchorage; a cool city, too, but it's a whole different way of life up there. It's (media) market size is 250 or so.

OMC: Tell me bit about "Daybreak" and your schedule during the day. How do you make it all work?

SK: Well, sometimes I feel like it's not working at all. (laughter) I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. But, I get up at 2:30 in the morning -- so that means I go to bed by 8 p.m. at the very latest.

I feel very lucky to have the kind of part-time job where it's a career, but I still have time to be with my kids. Many days, I'll go from (the studio) and I'll either work out or I'll go to my daughter's third-grade class to volunteer or help at a party for my first-grader or pick up my son at preschool.

I think a lot of parents are trying to find a balance in life and I feel lucky because I do feel like I have that balance.

The only (bad) part of it is that I have to get up at 2:30 in the morning and go to bed by 8. So, I'm tired all the time. But it's worth it.

OMC: What's it like seeing Vince Vitrano every morning at 4 a.m.?

SK: Well, he certainly keeps us on our toes and is always very fun and entertaining. TV news is a weird business because you're sitting up there at a desk with somebody and it's a very close relationship.

We talk about chemistry a lot in this business, and good chemistry is hard to find -- it only comes along every once in awhile. I do feel like I have that (chemistry) with Vince because we are very good friends and we know exactly what one another is thinking. So, we get along, and can kind of read each other's minds, as well. I feel very lucky to work with somebody like Vince.

OMC: What are you most proud of?

SK: In my life, I'm most proud of my kids. They're really good kids; they're fun and smart and good people. In terms of my career, it is the Community Baby Shower. It's something that I started with the station eight years ago; well we're going to have our eighth in January 2010. It's grown every year; an army of volunteers really makes it possible. 

I feel that it's something that's made a difference here in the community. And for me it's made me a better person.

OMC: Has Twitter changed your media life?

SK: Oh, I think absolutely. I just started in March. Jim Thomas at our station approached Vince and I, had us check it out because it was a totally new concept.

Vince started doing updates once in a while and I asked what he was doing. And now we're both on Twitter and can talk to viewers almost instantaneously (during the show and breaks).  I started tweeting good morning to people who would follow me and then they'd say good morning back. And I thought wow -- immediate viewer feedback.

There's a group called "Day Breakers." They all tweet and just chat it up. Definitely helps build that connection and passion.

There's a whole community out there of people that you would never actually may meet, unless it was on Twitter.  I do enjoy it very much.

OMC: Are you a sports fan?

SK: Yes, (a) big-time sports fan. I watch a lot of games. Big Brewers' fan, watch a lot a Brewers' games; my little 5-year-old is a huge baseball fan so we watch a lot of games. Every Packers game, obviously.  Bucks fan, too.

My husband is a Bengals fan, though. So, it's a somewhat divided loyalty (laughter) because he was at the Bengals-Packers game dressed in full Bengals gear and I think it got a little testy there at the end, but he said everybody was very cordial to him and he was cordial to others.

And golf. I'm a huge golf fan. I love watching golf on TV, playing it and thinking that someday I will be good. I don't know when that will be.

OMC: What about TV? Do you have certain shows that are on the DVR that you're passionate about and really like? Or is there just no time for that?

SK: Not really. I do watch "American Idol," I like to watch that with my kids. I used to watch "Dateline" but I don't watch it anymore because it's on too late. I couldn't get into "Dancing With the Stars."

I love HGTV, shows about makeovers in homes and ESPN.

OMC: Do you have time to read books? What was the last book you read?

SK: I read parenting books. And right now I'm reading "This I Believe," a bunch of short stories by people about things in their life that have shaped their opinions. It was a public radio series. I like books about inspiration, roads less traveled, things like that.

OMC: Do you have any favorite restaurants in the area or favorite types of food?

SK: Yes, I eat out a lot. Unfortunately. I love -- stereotypical, but I love -- Asian Fusion: Umami Moto. The Kobe beef sliders are to die for; they have fabulous spicy tuna and its sea bass is amazing.

I love a good steak so my husband and I like to try steak all over the place. Eddie Martini's steak, I think, is fabulous. For my birthday I like to go to Bacchus. They have really good scallops. For Mexican I like La Fuente and Charro in Brookfield.

Have you been to Kurt's?

OMC: Yes, we have, it's a favorite of my parents. My dad is a huge Kurt's fan.

SK:  What is it like $12.95 now for a little filet or something like that? One of these hole-in-the-wall kind of places that (only) the neighbors know about, but it's great.

OMC: If you had a magic wand for the greater Milwaukee area and you could wave it and ask for two things, what would they be?

SK: If I could change anything I would change (some) peoples' attitudes about Milwaukee. I guess that's my biggest frustration. People like to be down on themselves because "we're Milwaukee" and criticize it too often.

But, Milwaukee is such a great place. We have great restaurants, great theater, cool places to live. And I know this is one of those age-old arguments but I think that until we see ourselves differently it's going to be hard for the rest of the nation to see us. And part of this falls under the stereotypes and stuff like "Laverne and Shirley" and "Happy Days," beer and and the like.  Let's embrace that stuff and still appreciate how far and how different we are now.

OMC: Define "success." 

SK: Success, to me, is finding happiness in who you are and peace with where you are in life. That is success to me. I think if you happy with where you've come in life, you're happy with where you are, the people and the life that you're living,

It doesn't mean bigger, better, more, this, that or whatever, it just means being happy.

OMC: Finally, what's next for you?

SK: I love the show the way it is right now. I'm having a lot of fun with Vince and Craig, and Caitlin just started so I think we have a really dynamic group going. I love mornings because it's a mix of news and personality; it's not just straight news, it's not just read what happened today.

Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.

He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.

Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.  He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.  

He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.

He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.