Channel 2's Chris Parente on TV, Love and Being Yourself No Matter What

Chris Parente during his formative years.
Chris Parente during his formative years. Courtesy of Chris Parente
The choice of Chris Parente to replace veteran Denver TV-news personality Ernie Bjorkman as co-host of Daybreak, the morning program on KWGN/Channel 2, was greeted with skepticism by plenty of local media observers. After all, he was previously best known at the station and its sister outlet, KDVR/Fox31, for his work as a hip entertainment reporter, not the iron-jawed guy who delivered the most important and serious headlines.

But Parente is taking great pleasure in proving them wrong on a daily basis — and that's pretty much his approach to everything else in life, too. As you'll see in the following in-depth interview about his life and career, one of his favorite words is "joy."

Parente talks about his idyllic Midwestern upbringing; his love of theater and debate and how it merged into broadcast journalism; the sequence of events that brought him to Denver; the do's and don'ts of interviewing movie stars, including some casual name-dropping (Tom Cruise! Oprah Winfrey!) and revelations about the crankiest celebrity he's encountered on a Hollywood junket; plus his stint at Chicago's Second City and fascination with improvisation, which he demonstrates in performances with the local comedy troupe Queerbots.

He also discusses his decision not to hide his status as a gay man from viewers and how that's led to what he refers to as "challenges," albeit far fewer than the positives he's experienced through an honest representation of who he is. And he gets emotional when talking about his fiance, Luis Rios, a schoolteacher who relocated to Colorado from North Carolina around the time Parente was moved from Everyday, a now-canceled Fox31 program he adored, into the Daybreak gig.

This shift came amid ownership drama that has embroiled Channel 2 and Fox31 for more than two years. In May 2017, the outlets, owned by Tribune Media, were among the properties purchased by the ultra-conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group for a jaw-dropping $3.9 billion. This move immediately led to speculation that the conglomerate, whose viewership in its biggest markets was estimated at 2.2 million, wanted to create a national network of GOP-friendly stations that might challenge the dominance of cable powerhouse Fox News.

Before that could happen, the Sinclair purchase ran into trouble. Questions about whether the transaction would win federal approval inspired the company to negotiate with broadcasting companies that might be willing to pick up a few of the signals — and 21st Century Fox, the domain of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, quickly began maneuvering for Fox31. This development seemed likely to doom Channel 2's news operation, which is put together at Fox31 using shared equipment, resources and personnel in the complex where both are located.

In August, the Sinclair deal finally fell apart amid a Tribune lawsuit and breach-of-contract accusations, opening the door for another giant firm, Nexstar Media Group, to buy the two Denver stations and forty others in December. But that transaction's still pending, and rumors persist that Fox31 could be sold separately in order to win's the feds' blessing — perhaps to 21st Century Fox. If that happens, Nextar will either have to make heavy investments to create a standalone news operation at Channel 2 — including the likely purchase of a brand-new facility and studio space, as well as the hiring of additional personnel — or choose to go without one.

When asked about these matters, Parente acknowledges them but stresses that he's hardly paralyzed by uncertainty. His life's too beautiful to waste it on worry, especially right now.

Continue to learn a lot more about him.

Westword: Where are you from originally?

Chris Parente: I'm a born and raised Hoosier. I grew up in Indiana, of all places. At the risk of angering some sports fans, I actually grew up in West Lafayette, which is the home of the [Purdue] Boilermakers. But I went to school down in Bloomington, at Indiana University.

How would you describe your parents?

I really do believe that 99 percent of who you are comes from the way you were raised and the kind of love you were shown as a child. And my mom and dad continue to be my heroes. My dad was a teacher and a principal for 45 years, my mom was an accountant for the school system, and we grew up a very super tight-knit family. Every weekend we went camping in our old Starcraft pop-up camper. That meant a lot of quality time and a lot of campfire songs as well.

Do you have siblings?

I do. I have a brother and a sister. They're both, I like to say, considerably older than I am. My dad was forty when I was born and my brother and sister were already in high school. I got the best of both worlds, though. I was kind of like an only child, but I also had an older brother and sister to look out for me. We've stayed close over the years as well. It's really cool.

Where do they live?

They're both back home again in Indiana.

What are some of your earliest movie and TV memories?

I make no apologies for the fact that I am the O.G. — the original Star Wars nerd. In fact, the first movie I ever remember seeing was Star Wars. At that time, it was so packed that every screening had been sold out until midnight. So not only do I remember it as my first movie, but it was my first midnight movie, which I'm not sure my mom gets parenting points for, because I was six years old. But I got to stay up until midnight to watch the original Star Wars. And that really helped shape my childhood. It's been so cool to watch it come back as an adult.

Did that also fire up your interest in being a performer?

My mom would tell you that might be genetic. I was singing and dancing and performing for anybody I could find maybe even before I could walk. So I wouldn't say Star Wars inspired that. More than anything else, Star Wars inspired my imagination and a larger purpose and context. There's some pretty spiritual stuff going on in Star Wars.

You were raised as an Italian Catholic. Do you think you might have connected to that aspect of Star Wars because of your own spiritual foundation?

You are journalist of the year if you can somehow tie in Star Wars with Catholicism and being an Italian [laughs]. I will say from the beginning, family has been at the heart of what's been important to me, and I do think part of that comes from my Italian heritage. I was recently inducted into Colorado's Italian-American Hall of Fame, and that was a real honor for me. My great-grandfather immigrated here, like so many Italians did, in 1917, and a few years ago, I got to return to Italy and go to my home village, and I'm still connected to my relatives who remain there. I'm also very well fed as an Italian-American. Lots of carbs. It's really messing with my Keto diet [laughs].

As a kid, did you appear in school programs and plays?

I had two loves as a kid, and really, that's what evolved into journalism. One was performance. I was in school programs and I did the musicals, and I was also a musician.

click to enlarge This photo of Chris Parente and his mom suggests that he didn't have an awkward phase. - COURTESY OF CHRIS PARENTE
This photo of Chris Parente and his mom suggests that he didn't have an awkward phase.
Courtesy of Chris Parente
What instrument did you play? And do you still play it?

Thankfully for everybody involved, I no longer play. Your ears would have bled. I played the French horn, which is one of the most difficult instruments to learn, and I never quite mastered it. I think the world of classical music owes me a debt of gratitude for not having stuck with the French horn. It's a beautiful instrument, and I still have a real passion for classical music. But I'm a much better audience member than I am a performer when it comes to instruments, that's for sure.

My other passion in high school was debate. So I was on the debate team and met with a lot of success and had a lot of fun with that. That started to get me into the concept of research and really understanding the issues from both sides. That's the essence of competitive debate — being able to take both positions and understand both sides. That foundation really led me, when I went to college, to pursue a double major in journalism and political science and a minor in theater — so I kept the theater fires burning, too.

On the subject of looking at issues from both sides, some journalists today feel that objectivity is overrated and that reporters should be able to express their own point of view in telling stories. It sounds like you take more of an old-school approach.

Yes, I do think that as a journalist, it's my obligation to present both sides fairly. But ultimately, the goal is to reveal truth, whatever that truth may be. As the morning news anchor, it's not my job to pontificate or editorialize any of the stories I'm doing; that's not the kind of guy I am. But I do seek truth in our newscasts in the morning, and I think part of the way we get to truth is presenting the perspective of however many sides there might be and at some point finding the truth in that — or allowing viewers to find the truth in that.

Going back to your time in Indiana, were you shooting for a theater career? Were journalism and political science the safety net in case things didn't work out?

[Laughs.] To be honest with you, my philosophy in college was knock on all the doors and see which one resonated. I went to the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism at Indiana University, and it wasn't a safety net or a backup. Broadcast journalism was a way to integrate all of the things I love. It does bring a degree of improvisation and spontaneity. There is an element of performance to being on television. But it also speaks to my love of journalism, my love of sharing the stories of the day and presenting them in a way that both informs [and] entertains, or at least keeps people interested. Today there are a million places where you can get your news — but you need to present it in a way, especially in the morning, that's engaging and exciting and entertaining, so people want to listen and get the deeper messages involved.

You mentioned improvisation. I know you spent time at Second City, which is one of the most famous improvisation schools in the world.

Discovering improvisation was one of the greatest gifts of my life. Improvisation is something I think everybody can benefit from. We all think of comedy improv, like Whose Line Is It Anyway? But at its core, improv is really an exercise in trust and letting go of your fears and living in the moment, which are all life lessons when you get down to it. I discovered improv when I was probably 28 or 30 years old and fell in love with it. I went to Second City and trained there, and I've been doing improv at festivals and events and with troupes ever since.

When were you at Second City? Were there any folks you worked with who went on to TV or movie fame?

You mean the people that met with greater success? [Laughs.] The exact year I was there probably would have been around 2000. I didn't train with any improvisers who went on to Saturday Night Live, but performers who were at Second City or who were at the Chicago International Film Festival when I was there.... I attended a couple of CIFFs with Tina Fey, who at the time was the head writer for SNL. Amy Poehler, who was with the Upright Citizens Brigade, was just coming into her own. Steve Carell was just coming into his own. These folks had just started to reach their beginning of fame when I was there at the improv festivals and at Second City.

click to enlarge Chris Parente is the co-host of Daybreak. - CPARENTE.COM
Chris Parente is the co-host of Daybreak.
You've performed locally with the Queerbots troupe. How would you describe the troupe and how it approaches comedy?

One of the things I'm really proud of is that I was one of the founders of Queerbots, which was the first GLBTQ+-inclusive comedy improv troupe in Denver. Our idea was not to perform gay improv but to bring gay, lesbian, transgender and questioning players into the focus. Really, our audiences are almost entirely straight audiences. So the goal is to really bridge that gap and I think, ultimately, create through laughter the understanding that all of us have a lot more in common than we might think. That's something that I think Queerbots has done really well, as well as the other troupes I've performed with in town. I think that joy and laughter and levity are really healing medicines. We kind of blow it off and say, "It's just jokes. It's just comedy." But I think it has a great power to heal and to unify people in profound ways, and I've seen it happen on stage.

After graduating from Indiana, how long was it before you landed your first on-air TV news gig?

I got really lucky. My first job was in West Lafayette, the same town I grew up in. It was market 200. They rate the markets, all the way from market 1 down to market 218. So I was in a super-small market, but there happened to be a job opening for morning news anchor, and it coordinated perfectly with my graduation. I graduated, and a week later, I started — and I've been on the air ever since.

Was it a seamless transition? What was the learning curve for you to go from student to morning news anchor?

It was a real joy, and I loved every second of it. There's a reason I've stayed in this business since I graduated. I do love it. But the biggest adjustment was the hours. My entire career, I've somehow landed in the morning news shift, including my current job as the morning anchor on Channel 2. So you go from a college kid where you arrange your schedule so that your first class starts at noon to a job where your alarm goes off at 2:30 in the morning. That took a little adjustment and a whole lot of coffee, which is still my go-to.

How do you strike the balance between bringing enough energy to get viewers up and going and being so energetic that the folks who wake up more slowly are like, "Hey, could you dial it down a little"?

[Laughs.] I've got to be honest with you. It's kind of my life's philosophy, and I would say this to anybody: At the end of the day, the only person you can be is who you truly are. That's the person you get to be. That's the person you were meant to be. And I've always been hard-wired to be an enthusiastic, joyous, positive person. I think in the mornings, after a cup of coffee, I just make the choice to be who I am. If there are some viewers who think, "My God, what is this guy on?," I hope in the greater context, they can realize, "That's just who he is." When people see me in the morning, I hope they'll see somehow who's being genuine. That's the way we can make connections. If you're being genuine and I'm being genuine, there's none of that Ken-doll fake stuff going on, which has never been my jam.

There have been moments where even by co-anchor, Natalie [Tysdal], who's wonderful, may be like, "Rein it in! It's five o'clock in the morning! How can you be so happy at five in the morning?" But it really is, truthfully, who I am. There's a quote from Helen Keller: "Life is either a daring adventure or it's nothing at all."

I've had a lot of challenges in my life. But big picture, I'm a happy guy, and I'm privileged and honored to be doing what I do. Maybe I'll start doing half-caff [laughs]. But all in all, I'm in a good place.

Do you mind sharing some of the challenges that you've had?

Not at all. I made a decision long ago that part of being on the air five hours a day is that I get to be who I am, and I also don't censor or filter it. You don't only see the parts of me I want you to see. I don't think that's fair. In all the years I hosted the Everyday show, that was my philosophy.

Obviously for me, being a gay man has been an adventure and, at times, a challenge, and something I've stood in and never hid and never been ashamed of. That gets back to my parents. As Italian Catholics, they loved me and supported me and were with me from the time I came out. I came out at the height of the AIDS crisis in the late ’80s, at a time before the Internet and at a time before we even knew what HIV was. And my family was there for me. And throughout my years on television, what I call my TV family has accepted me not as the gay dude on TV, but as a journalist, as a neighbor, as a man who also happens to be gay. That's been something I've been proud of as well.

This year, I got engaged. I'm going to get married next spring.


Thank you. I am super-excited. I've met the love of my life, and my TV family has been supportive of that, too. We talked about how comedy can help create common ground. But by being myself on TV, I hope it's helped people to understand that I'm really not that different from anybody else. My goal to have a family, to have one person...[pause]...sorry, but I get emotional.

Take your time.

This is really a beautiful time of my life, and to have one person to share my life with, to call my spouse and my partner, to raise children together and create the same kind of family I was raised in — it's a real gift to be able to do that. And I think it's what most people really want at the end of the day. Also, I'm a crier, you should know [laughs]. I'm Italian! I get emotional!

You mentioned that you started in TV at a station in West Lafayette, Indiana, and you went on to another one in Fort Wayne. We don't usually think of Indiana as a bastion of liberalism, so were there any TV stops there, or in Louisville, Kentucky, where you worked after that, where some people behind the scenes weren't that thrilled with you being who you are on the air? Did you ever have to fight for your individuality and being your true self?

Oh, sure. Every one of us encounters somebody who may be in resistance or who may judge us or disapprove of us. I don't think that's about being a gay person. That's just being a person. We all face that, and we all get to make the choice of how we respond to it. We either change or hide who we are or we stand in who we are. I've been very fortunate, especially with my current employers in Denver, but also my employers in Louisville as well, who really, ultimately judge me on my talents, on my experience, on what I can bring to the shows, and support me in that. By and large, it's been a good experience, and I've never expected anyone to change their belief system for me. I only ask that people respect who I am and stay open-minded to the idea that we might end up being friends despite our differences. I've had that happen over and over again. The person you least expect to become a fan or become a friend does; these things happen all the time. It's a beautiful thing about life.

I understand that when you were in Louisville, you worked as an anchor, but you also hosted a program that featured music and comedy.

Not unlike the Everyday show, which just ended its run in Denver — it was on the air for nine years and was a great show — I had a similar program in Louisville. And those shows were a lot of fun because they were a little later in the day, so I could sleep in a little bit [laughs]. And I love the art scene in Denver. I love the theater scene, I love the music scene, I love the creative scene. And it was a cool way to showcase the talent we've got. I did the same thing in Louisville. It was great to do a hat tip and get them on TV, get them a little exposure.

What brought you from Louisville to Denver?

Gosh, it's been twelve years now, almost thirteen. I was looking for a new job, and it was kismet, it was synchronicity, it was the universe. I happened to get a response from a news director in Denver. I'd been to Denver for a debate tournament in high school. That was the only time, but as soon as the plane landed, it felt like home. I interviewed with Channel 2, and as soon as I got the offer, I loaded up the Jeep and drove out — and I started two weeks later.

click to enlarge Chris Parente with Kelly Ripa while filling in as a co-host on the Live! With Regis and Kelly program. - YOUTUBE
Chris Parente with Kelly Ripa while filling in as a co-host on the Live! With Regis and Kelly program.
What was your first position with the station?

I started as a morning reporter at Channel 2. I've been a reporter and an anchor for most of my career. Then it branched into doing morning reports that showcased cool things going on around town: a new restaurant, a new theater venue, going up to Breckenridge or Aspen at the start of the ski season. It was a great way to get to know Colorado, because I was all over the state. I was in a different place every morning. That evolved more into community pieces and entertainment pieces and arts pieces, which is where I spent five or six years in town before recently transitioning back into anchoring again.

How did you become the point person for big celebrity interviews?

I think it's just the universe at work. It might have been a Harry Potter film. Harry Potter was really blowing up, and they offered us a chance to come out and talk to the cast, and somehow it landed on my desk — and I was like, "Let's do this." I really loved connecting with the actors in a way that was a lot of improv, a lot of unscripted moments that let us figure out what made the actors tick.

How old were the Harry Potter kids during that first trip? Were they little kids?

They weren't super-little. They were in that awkward phase. They weren't grown up yet. It might have been the third or fourth film.

Since then, you've gone on a lot of what are commonly referred to as junkets. How does that process work?

It's a fascinating process to see how it all works. There are journalists there from all over the country. A recent example is A Wrinkle in Time, because it involved Oprah Winfrey, and it was a big deal. Oprah Winfrey! There are fifty journalists waiting in a reception area, and you get called out five at a time to go down the hallway. It's sort of like sitting outside the principal's office. And then you're rotated in.

I try to bring some spontaneity and some joy to the process, because they're sitting in a room from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. with journalists cycling through every five minutes. It's sort of like running the gauntlet for them. It's a hard day for them. And you only get four minutes apiece to establish a rapport, to establish a connection and try to get something people in Denver would want to hear about.

Are the questions vetted in advance, or can you ask whatever you'd like?

The questions aren't vetted, but there's a code of conduct that nearly every journalist adheres to. That code of conduct is that you're going to be professional. And my rule of thumb is, I'm not going to ask any personal questions, which are none of my business, and I don't think they're relevant anyway. Most journalists are respectful that way, and that's what keeps the process going. There's the occasional person who'll ask a ridiculous, inappropriate question, but to be honest with you, the actors will usually call them out. But the movie studios never ask for the questions in advance or screen them, which is good, because I don't think I'd do it.

click to enlarge Chris Parente interviewing Robert Pattinson for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. - YOUTUBE
Chris Parente interviewing Robert Pattinson for The Twilight Saga: New Moon.
Has there ever been a time where they've said, "Don't ask about this" or "Don't ask about that"?

I'm not really into "Who are you dating?" But it's usually that — or an actor's just gone through a divorce, or an actor's just about to get married. Something personal like that. There have been occasions where they've said, "Please don't ask about his divorce," which I would never do anyway. That's personal, and it might be painful to the actor, and I'd never want to do that.

I'm sure there are some celebrities spending that long day in a room with journalists cycling through that have a good sense of humor about it, and others where you can tell how awful it is for them. Are there any who stand out for being good sports or ones who were clearly in agony?

Yes! There are a couple of actors, to their credit, who are always electric and on despite the fact that they might be the hundredth person you've met that day. Hugh Jackman is the consummate professional, an engaging man. Tom Cruise: consummate professional, always an engaging guy. Robin Williams, rest his soul, was the same way: a phenomenal, beautiful man who made you feel he was present in the moment with you. I felt the same way about Oprah Winfrey.

I don't disparage anybody, but the toughest nut to crack — it's universal, almost a rite of passage — is Tommy Lee Jones. If you want to have fun, YouTube Tommy Lee Jones. He's infamous for not giving the regional press an inch. Your first interview with Tommy Lee Jones is sort of a birth by fire. He doesn't suffer fools, let's put it that way. He's not going to make your job easy, that's for sure. There are plenty of YouTube videos that will prove the point.

Because so many people are talking to the actors back to back, do you try to come up with unique questions that might not have already been asked? Or is that impossible, so you ask the ones that seem most on-point?

My goal in doing the interviews is to bring back an interview to Denver that our Colorado viewers would find entertaining and informative — and I find improvisation is a great tool for that. If you're in the moment and it's not planned and pre-scripted, that's when the magic happens. I definitely try to bring that spontaneity and that unique approach without going, "If you were a woodland mammal, what mammal would you be?" Not weird, stupid things, but find the genuine connection, and when that happens, usually something beautiful happens as a result.

Back in 2011, we wrote about Steve Carell slapping you. Was that one of those moments?

[Laughs.] I've been slapped by a number of people — always by invitation. I don't know how it comes up. But Steve Carell was great and gracious and funny, and he did end up slapping me, as did Joan Collins, of all people. She was in Dynasty, a show that was based in Denver, and she was always slapping Linda Evans. So I think I asked her if she'd do me the honor — and she did!

The clip that comes up first when you search using your name and the word "interview" is the one where you asked Kristen Wiig about a nude scene from a different movie [Welcome to Me] than you were interviewing her about [The Skeleton Twins]. Is that a fun memory in retrospect even thought it might have been a little awkward at the time?

On those press tours, when I go actually to interview the stars in Hollywood, I'm always invited to see the movie first, and I always do. On the satellite tours, you don't have the option to see the movie first, so you're sort of left to your own devices to research the film. And she had two different films coming out, so the papers got confused.

I certainly got ribbed a lot for it, but I think if you take yourself too seriously, you're also a bore. So she and Bill Hader were hilarious — they're both improvisers, by the way — and in the end, I ended up getting flowers from one of the producers, because that clip ended up giving the movie more press. He was like, "Thank you for all the publicity for the movie!" And I was like, "You're welcome. It was humiliating, but I'm glad it helped sales."

It was a fun moment at the end of the day, and also a learning moment. If an actor has two or three movies coming out, you'd better know which one she's naked in [laughs]. Later on, Bill Hader was in a movie called Trainwreck, and we got to connect over that moment, which was really funny, too. Bill Hader is a really fine improviser. One of the best.

[Here's Chris Parente's interview with Bill Hader, as well as Amy Schumer, about Trainwreck.]

You mentioned the Everyday program earlier, which you've described as the show you've done that you're proudest of. Does that remain the case? And what did you love so much about it?

The show does remain one of my proudest moments, mostly because in today's TV landscape, it's hard to find shows like that on local television. All my co-hosts were wonderful, but [radio host] Kathie J in particular is one in a million. For her and me to be able to share an hour a day unfiltered and in humor was really a gift. I always cherish my time with Kathie J.

My first co-host on Everyday was Natalie, who I'm co-anchoring with in the mornings. So it's beautiful to have that kind of reunion and have it come back around again. Morning news is a different animal, and it's one that I love. My hope is to bring a sense of joy and a sense of family while at the same time, obviously, delivering information and news, which goes back to the start of my whole career. It's sort of a cool combination as well.

During the time you've spent in Denver, you've been listed as an employee of Fox31 or Channel 2 or both, because they're sister stations. Is that weirder for the public than it is for you?

It's not weird for me, but I think it does confuse people a little bit. Like, they think I just work for Rupert Murdoch. But the truth is, both of the stations are owned by the same parent company, and I've experienced joy on both sides. I first came to work here on Channel 2, so it's great to come back.

Our tag line is "Colorado's Own," and I do think there's a real history with Channel 2, having been the first TV station here. There's a deeper connection to what it means to be a Coloradan. I really do love that aspect of Channel 2.

There's been a lot of conversation about who's going to own which station and whether Channel 2 is going to have a news operation if it winds up with a different owner than Fox31. Does that cause any anxiety? Or are you able to set aside those matters while you're working day to day?

I've never had anxiety thinking about what might or might not happen. Worrying doesn't really do anything productive. If worrying did good, maybe I'd spend more time worrying. But no one's ever shown me that worrying or having anxiety about anything does any good, whether it's about my future job or my future career or my future anything. I try as much as possible to live in the moment, and in the moment, we're doing great things on Channel 2 in the mornings, and it's a joy to be a part of it.

When Everyday ended and you moved into the anchor slot on Daybreak, you replaced Ernie Bjorkman, who's been one of the best-known anchors in Denver for decades. Was that intimidating? Did it make it up your game?

I consider myself so fortunate to know Ernie and be able to learn from him. Even when I was hosting the Everyday show, I did morning reports on Channel 2, so I got to spend a lot of time with Ernie — four hours every morning. And there is no one who is more of a professional, but also more of a kinder soul. He's always been gracious about sharing advice, sharing life lessons, sharing stories of what it was like thirty years ago in the business. I won't say it was intimidating, but it was an honor and a privilege to follow someone like Ernie, who's not just an icon, but he was willing to share what he knew with me. I would say the same of Tom Green, who was the morning anchor for years before Ernie. Tom was the same way. I consider both of them mentors and friends. I'm really lucky in that area.

click to enlarge Chris Parente and Daybreak co-host Natalie Tysdal. - COURTESY OF KWGN
Chris Parente and Daybreak co-host Natalie Tysdal.
Courtesy of KWGN
Did becoming the anchor on Daybreak allow your fiance to move to Denver from North Carolina?

I know I've said this four or five times, but whether you call it God or the universe or whatever you want to call it, I believe that if you open your heart and listen and allow yourself to be led in some ways, the universe or God or whatever will guide you in the right direction. I met Luis and realized the moment I met him that this is the person I get to spend my life with. Then it became a matter of how does that get to happen. Either I leave Colorado or he gets to come here. So it was beautiful timing that I was able to step into Ernie's shows and start in the position of morning anchor at the same time that Luis was approaching the end of his school year and was able to come out here. We've got great schools out here and Luis is a phenomenal educator, so he was able to accept a position. It all came together. It's been really cool.

Today, social media is a big part of the way TV news personalities connect with audiences, and you're an expert at it. Is that fun for you? And is it key to doing your job in 2019?

It's both. The things I love most about my time in Colorado and being at Channel 2 are the connections I get to make with the moms, with the dads, with the young adults who are just starting. I feel like I know them, and they get to know me. Social media, whether it's Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or Twitter, all of them at their best are vehicles to make a connection. They're ways that people can get to know me and connect in ways that you can't do on a television screen, so that's great. And I really do enjoy both sharing my day and learning about what's going on with everybody else's day, too.

There is a double edge to it. We all know that social media can be a place for, to put it politely, negativity and cyber-bullying. But I don't let it faze me. That's just a fact of life about social media, and I think the good of it can outweigh whatever people would say about the negatives. And I never engage in that anyway.

What's your advice to fellow TV journalists about using social media?

To all my competitors: Stay off of social media! Don't bother! [Laughs.] I can only speak for myself, but I feel like the more genuine you are in what you're sharing and in your interactions, the more people feel connected. That's kind of where I'm at. On social media, I try to be as vulnerable and genuine as I can and use it as a way to further the connection.

You said earlier you're not anxious about the future in regard to station ownership. But what are your future plans? Do you have goals you're shooting to achieve? Or are you happy where you are right now?

It was a real gift from my news director, Brian Gregory, and our general manager, Joan Barrett, to give me this opportunity. My goal is to raise a family in Colorado and to call Colorado home for a long time. I know that's Luis's goal, too. I love the Daybreak show, I love Natalie and Ken [Clark] and Chris Tomer and the whole team.

I feel like I have roots here. What do they say? After thirteen years here, I'm not a native, but I'm local. My goal is really to continue to deepen the roots and extend the branches here in Colorado. I think I'm in a great place to make that happen now.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts