If it seems as if News 12 Westchester’s Tara Rosenblum is everywhere, it’s because, well, she is. When Eliot Spitzer resigned as governor, she was at the press conference. When Hillary Clinton announced her presidential bid online, she was anchoring. When Andrea Stewart-Cousins was declared the state senate race victor after a 100-day recount, she was there in Albany. When hotel heir Ben Novack, Jr., was murdered at the Rye Town Hilton, she first reported it from the anchor desk and then went to Florida to the victim’s house searching for answers. When the summer’s heat wave hit, she was at Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonkers, asking youngsters for tips on staying cool. And at the end of July, she was on Facebook (facebook.com/rosenblum12), updating followers on the scene in Rhinebeck, New York, leading up to Chelsea Clinton’s wedding.
Tara Rosenblum is everywhere—everywhere that news breaks. The 32-year-old general assignment reporter and weekend anchor always seems to find a regional angle to most everything, explaining how goings-on around the globe impact Westchester’s 270,000 households that News 12 reaches. She is on-air at least five days a week, presenting the local aspect of that flaky, wacky story; that horrible, violent tragedy; or that latest soap opera coming out of Albany. And in-between, she’s preparing for the next time she’s up, planning stories, working on special investigative pieces, and researching ideas to pitch to her boss, News Director Janine Rose.
Rosenblum on the scene with Air Force One.
Why is it that Rosenblum is seemingly everywhere? “I like to be where there’s breaking news,” says the news maven, blue eyes sparkling with enthusiasm. “It’s like having a VIP pass to watch history unfold, and you’re right up front.”
Her original goal was to have a prominent network job. However, Rosenblum says she has found her dream job at News 12. “When anything goes on in the world that is major, Westchester is involved in it,” she says, pointing out that there were local angles to national headline-making stories from the World Cup to the Virginia Tech Massacre to the Bernie Madoff swindle. “There are always important stories to tell here. You have the wealthiest of the wealthy and the poorest of the poor. You have the political situation here, from the Pirros to the Clintons to the Spanos.”
To Rosenblum, a journalist is a storyteller, and everyone, she maintains, has a story. She gets story ideas by striking up conversations with people while doing something as mundane as standing in line at a grocery store. And then there are times when something just happens to catch her eye, such as a goldfish in a car dealership that had become a lucky charm and mascot to the employees.
“That’s Tara—she sees stories where others don’t, and she can tell any story and make it interesting,” says Rose, who calls Rosenblum a “hard-heels reporter, always pounding the pavement.” And while Rosenblum seems totally open, family and friends note things Rosenblum has failed to mention or has glossed over, including beauty pageant titles and charitable pursuits.
Rosenblum in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The only time there’s a slight break in her outgoing, optimistic demeanor is when talking about her late stepmother, Joni Shira Rosenblum, an early and enthusiastic supporter of Rosenblum’s broadcasting dreams, who was fatally shot by a carjacker outside her suburban Miami home in July 2001. “She raised me since I was a child. She took me to New York for my first photo shoot and gave me the love of New York, the love of so many things.” She describes herself as a combination of “a third my mom, a third my dad, and a third my stepmom.”
“Tara modeled herself after Joni,” says her father, Terry M. Rosenblum, an attorney in North Miami Beach, Florida. “She was devastated.” As were her siblings, Jamie Rosenblum, now 29; Brooke, 20; and Chad, 16.
At the time of the murder, Rosenblum had her first on-air job at the NBC affiliate KWWL-TV in Waterloo, Iowa. She considered giving up her fledgling career to move back to Florida and care for her younger siblings full-time, but her family insisted she stay in Iowa, in part because of how deeply interested and involved her stepmother had been in her career. “She motivated me in every way. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her.”
Rose says the family tragedy made Rosenblum a better and more empathetic reporter. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget the trauma in the victim’s family because we’re under that deadline pressure—we want to get the story to air. Tara knew compassion before, but she truly learned it going through that experience.”
Tara Rosenblum fell in love with the news as a preschooler. She crayoned a hyperlocal newsletter and distributed it to friends and neighbors in her native Florida.
“Tara has wanted to be an on-air reporter for as long as I’ve known her,” says Jaime Steinberger of New Hope, Pennsylvania, who has known her since second grade. “She always wanted to be in the front line.” Rosenblum concurs. “When something was happening, I wanted to run out there and see what was going on.” Her passion hasn’t abated. “I get news everywhere. I talk to everyone I see. I’m following a million blogs. I’m following a million websites. I read four papers in the morning, watch local news, our competitors’ news, cable shows.”
Rosenblum’s lifelong enthusiasm for space exploration and flying also has yielded story opportunities. She did a three-part special investigation on the private race to space, which became her most talked-about News 12 story: experiencing zero gravity—“flying like Superwoman!”—during a space-training simulation flight. Rose admits she wasn’t eager to give the okay to the zero gravity story idea because of the possible dangers. However, “it was a wonderful piece. Tara has that ability to find the stories that other people would just shake their heads at.” And she has the persistence to nudge her boss until she gets the go-ahead.
“The impact that the stories can have is a pretty incredible thing,” Rosenblum says. She spent 10 days in the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Katrina, witnessing the destruction. “It took me a while to get those images out of my head.” As a result of her reporting, several Westchester communities “adopted” a pastor in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, donating money and supplies that kept his soup kitchen up and running. Rosenblum’s mother, Linda Levrey, a Hollywood, Florida-based mediator, didn’t want Tara to go to New Orleans, but, she maintains, “you can’t say no to Tara.”
A passion for daily workouts and healthy eating keeps Rosenblum in shape for a life in front of the camera and gives her the energy for the job’s long hours. She mixes up her fitness regimen with swimming, rowing, golf, spinning, and bike riding. She likes to cook and tries to stick to organic foods, stocking the fridges at home and at work with kombucha tea, gogi berries, and various tofu treats. “She’s always drinking something that smells funky or making weird smoothies that are all green,” says her younger sister, Brooke, who has been sharing a Manhattan apartment with Tara for the past two years.
While in high school in Hollywood, Florida, Rosenblum honed her public speaking skills though the Debate Club. She was already “good at adapting who she was and what she’s trying to do for the cause she’s supporting,” Steinberger says.
At the same time, Rosenblum began entering beauty pageants to pump up her poise and presentation chops. She entered “eight or nine” events and brought home crowns including Miss Florida National Teenager and Miss Teen America Star, and she was a Miss District of Columbia runner up. “The whole pageant thing to me is so five hundred years ago that I never even think about it,” she says.
The pageants were “the starting place of Tara becoming Tara,” Steinberger says. “That’s where she started building confidence about being in front of people.”
Levrey thought the attraction of the spotlight might lead her daughter to an acting career. She was cast as an extra in a couple of movies and also did some modeling, but journalism had a stronger pull. In a schedule solidly booked with pageant prep, Rosenblum made time to be the “editor of everything” throughout her school years, according to her father. A semester studying in Israel opened her eyes to the joys of international travel and sharpened her interest in news and politics.
As a J-school major at George Washington University in Washington, DC, Rosenblum focused on print journalism. While in DC, she had jobs and internships with CNN and CBS News, covering Capitol Hill, the White House, and the 2000 presidential election.
Semester at Sea was another college highlight. Rosenblum was one of about 500 students who traveled by cruise ship to nearly three dozen countries, learning history and culture in situ. Her international experiences weren’t solely academic, though: she cemented her deep love of adventures off the beaten path by skydiving in South Africa, meeting with Masai warriors in Kenya, and following the nautical tradition of shaving her head when she crossed the equator. “I have a hard time turning down a dare from my friends” Rosenblum says. When her formerly waist-long natural blonde hair was growing back, “I kind of looked like a chia pet. I was miserable, but I have no regrets. It was an interesting experience, being bald.”
After graduation, the fledgling reporter rented a car and drove to TV stations around the country, dropping off her resumé and demo tape, in hopes of getting a job. “She was willing to start at the very bottom, and she did everything on her own,” Levrey says. “She wanted this to be hers, she didn’t want someone else to be responsible for her success.” Rosenblum was hired as an anchor in Waterloo, Iowa, a town with freezing winters and a population of about 68,000.
Rosenblum later took a job at WETM, another Peacock Network affiliate, in Elmira, New York, moving closer to her eventual goal of a gig in the New York metropolitan area. She made the move to Westchester
Moving to the area gave her the opportunity to strengthen family ties with relatives living in the county. She organizes regular “Cousins Club” gatherings for 10 or 12 for fun, food, and fellowship.
Her current career goal is to be the first reporter in space. “It’s the last great big story to tell, the last frontier,” she says. “I’ve written NASA about it. I’ve written Richard Branson about it. I’m going to keep writing. I’m saving to pay my own way when Richard Branson gets Virgin Galactic off the ground.” And she’s already chosen a headline for her post-space-flight profile: “See Tara Fly!”
Elzy Kolb is a Scarsdale-based writer, editor, and copy editor who has written about female jazz musicians, Huntingdon’s disease, horseback riding, adaptive reuse of elderly architecture, and Canadian public golf courses.