Rosanna Scotto is a quintessential New Yorker, more so a Brooklynite. And since 1986, the hometown girl has been on-air for Fox 5/WNYW.
A quarter-century at any one company is impressive. In this industry, though, it’s nothing short of amazing.
“Despite the changes to the business over the years, I kind of kept my head down and kept my focus on trying to get the big story of the day,” Scotto admits. “I think that’s not only how I survived, but thrived.”
Starting tomorrow, Good Day New York (which she co-anchors with Greg Kelly) commemorates her milestone anniversary with a special retrospective and surprises for Scotto.
“I think the reason that I’ve been successful is I’m really a hard worker,” Scotto tells FishbowlNY in an exclusive in-person interview. “I always work like it’s my first day on the job.”
But, of course, it’s not Scotto’s first day any more. The experienced broadcast journalist brings plenty of experience to the set each day, while remaining open to new ideas.
“If you don’t change in this business you’re going to be shown the door,” Scotto says. “You have to be flexible. You have to go with what’s current and what they want.”
Being “current” in 2011 means being connected to social media.
“I’m tweeting, I’m Facebooking in the middle of a three hour live unscripted show [Good Day, 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.],” Scotto laughs. “I don’t know where I am. Am I tweeting or am I on TV?”
She credits her family, specifically her two children, for helping her keep a pulse on what’s hot “out there.”
Scotto’s beginnings at Fox 5 were as a reporter. Actually, her start at Channel 5 was with Metromedia (WNEW) in the weeks before Rupert Murdoch took over the station. Thereafter, thanks to the sordid Woody Allen and Mia Farrow breakup, Scotto scored a major career boost.
“I had so many exclusives on that particular case that the bosses actually tried me out on the weekend anchoring,” Scotto recalls.
By 1994, Scotto would move to prime time, co-anchoring the Ten O’Clock News, originally with another Channel 5 icon John Roland, and ultimately with her longtime friend Ernie Anastos.
Since 2008, Scotto and Kelly offer a mix of hard news and lighter fare on Good Day.
“I have to be on my feet with that guy because he has the craziest knowledge in his head,” Scotto says. “He knows so much about the military, political intricacies, and [he’s] got a wicked sense of humor.”
Despite the great chemistry, Scotto says it’s still a work in progress.
“I don’t feel like 100 percent comfortable in doing this format,” Scotto admits. “…This is unscripted, throw in your opinion on things that you won’t get in trouble with, and you have to know a lot about pop culture.”
But as Kelly and Scotto prepare to cover the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, it’s no surprise that the horrific day stands out so strongly for her as a career moment.
“Nine/eleven [is] totally etched in my mind and the wounds are still open losing so many friends in that terrible, terrible tragedy,” Scotto reflects.
Predating her 25 years with WNYW, Scotto worked at WABC/Channel 7. While there she was sent to a consultant to “clean up” her Brooklyn accent.
“You are not the story. You are not to be a distraction,” Scotto recalls the consultant telling her.
Fast forward to today and Scotto sees a difference in how news is presented.
“Is the hair done, the makeup perfect, what outfit do you have that’s going to pop on the screen?” Scotto says. “It’s a very visual medium right now, and a lot of us have had to jump on board and embrace it.”
On the topic of her hair, part of the station’s look back at her WNYW career includes a fun trip examining Scotto’s look over the years.
“At the time, I really liked my hair. I always kind of have somewhat fashionable hair styles,” Scotto says. “The problem is that when you look back at them, they so mark that period, that it’s kind of eye-opening… We like things a little bigger in Brooklyn.”
In the end, Scotto is delighted about reaching this length of service at Fox 5, but has no plans to leave.
“I like what I’m doing right now. I feel like I have a lot more to give,” Scotto says. “I’m not saying I’m going to be here another 25 years, but I’d love to be here another few.”