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|Back to Home > Content > Interviews > So What Do You Do, Jodi Applegate?|
Most people know Jodi Applegate as co-host Good Day New York, or perhaps the "that's not cool" newscaster who was the target of a YouTube-driven practical joke earlier this year. But she's had a starry career — rising from Phoenix, Arizona morning personality to NBC's Later Today and Weekend Today. Applegate also holds the distinction of being at the anchor desk for MSNBC's debut broadcast in 1996. She recently spoke with mediabistro.com about her career.
mediabistro.com: Are you really 42?
Jodi Applegate: Yeah, well, I probably shouldn't have admitted [my age] in interviews a long time ago, but it's too late now. On morning TV, with the Internet, that [info] can be grandfathered in [to your next job] very easily.
What's your media day like?
Hmm, let's see. I haven't seen the sun in years. I wake up at 3 a.m. I leave my clothes out the night before. I'll have some leftover pasta and I'm out the door at 3:50, snarf down some coffee. A car picks me up at my door, and I get to the studio for our 4:00 a.m. story meeting. That's with our executive producer and line producer and Ron Corning, my co-host. That usually goes until 5:15. Then I'm in makeup for 15 and hair for 20. Then we're on the air for 3 hours. After that I'll shoot promos and have a planning meeting with the producers. We might have a shoot, we'll say 'Is this a good topic for an interview?' Then I usually go home. It's pathetic, but I'll watch the air-check of that day's show— I'm never done critiquing.
Then I'll take a nap for a couple hours. I'll get up in the early afternoon and take my dog for a walk around the reservoir in Central Park. A golden retriever, 5 and a half. Then I'll come home, log on, check out what stories we're doing. I have a call with the producers from 4-5PM. Then I'll watch a little local news, and I'm in bed by 7-7:30, baby.
You were the first anchor of MSNBC for its debut. How was that?
I was working in Phoenix, Arizona for a local morning show. It was like Good Day New York. They ripped off the format. We started getting popular. Then NBC was in town for the 1996 Super Bowl and they saw me and asked if I would be interested in coming to New York. So I was hired.
I went on the air on July 15, 1996. It was like "Applegate, you’re up." I was nervous, it was the network debut. I had (former GE chairman) Jack Welch standing right in the room there watching. I was probably too young and naïve to be really nervous.
How do you feel about competing with 3 national morning shows in NY?
Well, not to sound too trite, but they can't do what we can do. They can't give the local viewers in the metro area what we can— that is, specific local reporting. They have to be general enough to please someone in Ohio or Nebraska. We can cover both, and our ratings in New York prove that. So I don't think we're at a disadvantage.
Fox is starting a national morning show next year. You're obviously not hosting. Did you feel passed over? How will it affect you?
It's a national show. I did that. I've never been happier in my career, being at a local network. I just think it's a better lifestyle. You're part of a company. And being in New York, it's a cliché, but you're at the center of the universe. So I've never felt like that. We're going to work with them, lead into them. From what I understand it's going to have a lighter feel to it. A nice way to bridge the morning gap.
Do you have designs on becoming a national show host? Would you like to host the Today Show or GMA?
I never say never, but not at this point, no. I'm having too much fun.
Who do you look up to in terms of inspiration? Anyone you model yourself after?
Well, when I was growing up, it was wall-to-wall Johnny Carson. He was dorky, but in a great way. Everyone of my generation was influenced by him. He had such a deft touch. Then Tom Brokaw and Jane Pauley, of course. They knew when to take a pause.
What about current anchors?
Shep Smith. He's just effortless.
Last song you listened to on your iPod?
Applegate: It’s whatever my husband has on there. Jackson Browne and the Eagles?
The YouTube bike lock thing. Reactions were mixed as to how you handled it. What's the fallout been like? Has anything changed? Have you banned YouTube guests on the show?
The "That's not cool" incident. There hasn't been much in the way of fallout, believe it or not. I think people had the impression that these guys were trying to hoax us. They had fake blood and stuff. We're ultimately a news program, and these guys were staging the accidental fake cutting of a guy's jugular.
What's your favorite thing about NY? Least favorite?
This is kind of a cliché answer: the expense. There's not much of a middle class. You open the Times and there's a $10,000 pair of shoes. Who buys those?
Network anchors, maybe?
No. It just feels like a different planet. I guess it is, in some ways.
Again, a cliché: the people. It's like traveling around a parade of humanity. You know those cruise retirees, who never have to live anywhere, they just float around between islands? Living in New York is like that.
Who would be your dream interview at the moment?
Oh, gosh. I don't know. Donald Rumsfeld? I would like to talk to him.
[Dylan Stableford is mediabistro.com's managing editor for news. He can be reached at dylan AT mediabistro DOT com.]