TV news moms

6ABC 's Nydia Han
6ABC 's Nydia Han
Posted: May 09, 2013

IT'S PROBABLY not necessary to point out that for any woman, regardless of what she does for a living, being a working mom isn't a full-time job - it's two full-time jobs, at least. But there is one, somewhat exclusive group of local working women whose shared profession brings with it pressures and conditions most mothers don't have to negotiate.

Women who work on-air in television may even have it a little tougher than most who earn a living while raising a family. They have to worry about how their pregnancy will affect their on-camera look, for instance. Then there's the recognition factor while they're pushing a stroller through the park - or disciplining a cranky toddler.

To mark Mother's Day 2013, to be observed Sunday, the Daily News asked some local TV types who also happen to be mothers about the special circumstances their chosen professions place on their other job.

That baby-wait weight

There's no question that concerns about the physical changes wrought by pregnancy are a common thread among Philly's TV moms. CBS 3 meteorologist Kate Bilo hinted that it was an aspect of carrying her children, sons Leo, 3 1/2, and Anders, 4 months, she would have preferred to avoid.

"[I'm] not going to lie, it's hard to come to terms with watching your body change on television every day," wrote Bilo, who, like all the women featured in this article, submitted her remarks via email.

"For me, the toughest part was during the first trimester, when you go back and forth between looking pregnant and just looking like you went overboard at the buffet. Maternity clothes are too big, regular clothes are too tight, and add the camera to that, and it's a recipe for misery!"

Solace, she added, came from fans who sent her messages about how good she looked.

On the other hand, acceptance - more like resignation - got Kerry Barrett through her pregnancy.

"As any mom can tell you, there's really not a whole lot [read: nothing] you can do about the physical changes you go through during pregnancy," reasoned Barrett, co-anchor of Fox 29's 5, 6 and 10 p.m. weekday newscasts, and mother of 2 1/2-year-old Avery. "So, honestly, I didn't sweat that aspect of things. I ate healthfully and exercised, but beyond that, it's not a battle you're going to win."

The 'Mommy perspective'

Of course, childbirth isn't the end of anything (save for pregnancy). It is the beginning of a new life and way of life. Working moms - on and off TV - struggle to find balance between the professional and the personal. But none of those queried saw their jobs as real impediments to quality time with their kids.

"We do face distinct challenges, such as daily pressures under deadline, working holidays and weekends and crazy hours," acknowledged NBC 10 anchor-reporter Denise Nakano, mom to sons Shane, 5, and Kyle, 4.

"Between juggling career and family, I get no sleep. I really depend on my husband, who backs me up because his job has more flexibility than mine. It's a must when the kids get sick or during family or work emergencies."

Sheinelle Jones, co-anchor of Fox 29's morning news-and-chat-'em-up "Good Day Philadelphia," said that her crack-of-dawn job both gives and takes away.

"Doing a morning show has its pros and cons from a 'mommy' perspective," she said. "It's tough to have a social life, because I go to bed at 8 p.m. with my 3 1/2-year-old [Kayin], and I'm not there in the morning when it's time for him to go to school, or when my babies [10-month-old twins, daughter Josephine and son Uche] wake up.

"But I am home in the afternoon, and I love it. I will admit by 4 p.m. I'm totally exhausted, but I'm grateful to be home with them for dinner."

According to 6ABC consumer reporter/weekend anchor Nydia Han, what she and her husband, Dennis, a doctor, do with the time they spend with their daughter, 1-year-old Sabine, is far more important than the amount of time they get to share with her.

Han explained that when he is on call, Dennis can be gone for 24 hours at a time, and that her job has her working as many as three different shifts a week, including early morning and late-night. But "we just make it work as a family," she said.

"We're blessed to have a wonderful full-time nanny who's flexible and available at a moment's notice. And when my husband and I are home together with our little girl, we try really hard to put work and everything else aside, and just focus and enjoy one another. We believe it's quality, and not quantity, that counts."

For CBS 3 meteorologist Kathy Orr, it's winter-weather events that tend to blow her domestic life off-course.

"The most unusual part of my job is during snowstorms," said Orr, mother of Bella, 10 and William, 7. "When every other mom is at the grocery store, getting ready for the big storm . . . I pack my snacks and pillow for a long night at the station."

Some TV personalities, regardless of gender, find having a publicly recognizable face to be one of the drawbacks of their otherwise glamorous, well-paying (in this market, anyway) careers, and they are protective of their family's privacy. But the women interviewed here generally embrace the fame their jobs bring them.

"My kids are pretty unimpressed by television and what I do," admitted longtime NBC 10 anchor Renee Chenault-Fattah, who has two daughters - Cameron, 14, and Chandler, 9 - with her husband, U.S. Rep. Chakka Fattah, plus two grown kids from a previous marriage.

"They also understand that it is part of my job that when people come up to me in public . . . there is a lot of chatting. They are amused by the fact that people want to chat with me. The hard part is in large crowds, when people want to talk and I am with my kids. I stay focused on the conversation, but I'm always keeping an eye on my girls."

6ABC morning-news co-anchor Tamala Edwards considers the public's interest in her an important by-product of her job.

"People are so lovely, and they usually leave me a bit of space when I'm with the kids," said Edwards of her sons, Rocco Jr., 3, and Massimo, 8 months. "Or if they do come up to me, they couldn't be kinder.

"It's usually a quick interaction, just to let me know how much they love the show and how happy they are for me with the kids. More than an imposition, it reminds me how grateful I am to live and work in a city with such wonderful people."


Twitter: @chuckdarrow

Blog: philly.com/Casinotes

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