An Interview with The Interviewer

The scoop on News Director Janine Rose of News 12 TV Westchester.

Janine Rose of Pelham kicked off her TV career with a stint as a customer sales rep at Cablevision in Yonkers back in 1979. Thirty years and two Emmys later, she’s the news director for Cablevision’s News 12 Westchester and News 12 Hudson Valley and, as anchor of their evening newscasts, a familiar presence on scores of 914 flat screens. Here, she goes on the record about her life in front of and behind the camera.

We hear you’re a workaholic. Anything else you like to do as much as work?
I love to gamble—within my means, of course—and I never lose the mortgage payment! My favorite vacation spots are Vegas and Atlantic City.

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Who would be your fantasy or ‘best get’ local interview subject?
I would love a candid one-on-one with Hillary Clinton about how, as a woman, she’s made it to where she is. I can relate, as I was one of the first women news directors. We’ve tried on numerous times to get her into the studio but the people who represent her put her into larger venues like 60 Minutes and not local stations. But she has an open invitation from us and her press people know that.

What’s the most under-reported news story in Westchester?
Most people think of this as an affluent community and don’t realize that there are people here who need our help.

’Fess up now: what’s your secret guilty pleasure?
I’m addicted to Real Housewives on Bravo. Normally, I don’t like reality shows, but I love this one—the fact that it’s real women dealing with real issues. A bunch of people here in the newsroom watch it, too, so we’re always comparing notes.

What Westchester news story got you really excited?
When the Clintons moved to Chappaqua, I literally was jumping up and down in the newsroom. Any presidential move is newsworthy, and it really put Westchester on the map. People wanted to know why Westchester, why Chappaqua.

What would you say was your most memorable interview?
One was in 1986, with the family of Michael Frey, a young Eastchester policeman who was killed in the line of duty. Not only was it one of the first major breaking-news stories I covered after I started anchoring the news, it was a particularly horrific crime—he was literally lured to the house by someone who was looking to assassinate a police officer. I also have several family members who are police officers so it really hit close to home for me.

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What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
That I would rather be in a room full of senior citizens than my own peers. Seniors have so much wisdom and knowledge to impart. They really are the greatest generation.

What did you want to be originally?
A dancer. I would have loved to have been a Rockette, but I’m only five-feet, five-inches tall.

What has been your most embarrassing on-air experience?
My earrings falling off. Before I had my ears pierced, I wore clip-ons, and back in the eighties, they were those big heavy suckers. All of a sudden you’d see flying chunks of metal.

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You’re usually the one asking all the questions. Have you ever been asked one that’s had you stumped?
Once a group asked me to speak about how I built my career. I was stymied. I had never even given it a thought because I was always so busy working that I didn’t even have time to notice!

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Do viewers recognize you when you are about and about doing errands in Westchester?
All the time and it’s so uplifting—it’s one of the rewards of the job. Often people will say ‘sorry to bother you; I just wanted to say hello,’ and it’s not a bother; if they didn’t know me, they wouldn’t be watching.

What’s your favorite Westchester spot to go and think?
My home, when I have downtime. At work, the conference room attached to my office where we brainstorm because I am a better thinker with other people than I am on my own; planning sessions with my staff energize me.

What are you reading right now?
I’m always reading newspapers, journals, and magazines, and when I read to escape I like romance novels.

Where do you keep your Emmy’s?
On a shelf in my den.

What’s your favorite question to ask an interview subject?
It depends on the story; the nature of the story drives the questions.

You started in an entry level position and now you are director of the entire News 12 news department. Any advice for today’s new grads looking to break into their own fields of dreams?
Be prepared educationally—college is now needed for just about every job in my field, and I myself had my Master’s in Communication Broadcasting when I started as a customer rep. Pursue you dream but don’t be easily frustrated; you have to be willing to work hard, put in the hours, and do whatever is offered, whether an entry level position or internship, to get the experience. And be realistic about your expectations. Realize that you may not make a lot of money now—or even ever.

What report of yours are you most proud of?
All of them. I am so proud of my staff and what we’ve been able to do.

Is it really one big happy family on set?
Brian and I tease each other all the time; he’s like my little brother and yes, the relationship is genuine and one of mutual respect. You can’t fake that. Brian picks me up when I fall and he knows I have his back; our strengths and weakness complement one another.

Who is your own anchor idol?
I don’t have just one; I have respect for all of them because I know the job is not an easy one.

Photo by John Rizzo

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