5 Questions For… Alison Stewart

By Alissa Krinsky 

Alison Stewart, an NBC News contributor and fill-in anchor on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, is also co-host of NPR’s new morning program, The Bryant Park Project. Stewart has worked at CBS and ABC News, and at MTV as a political reporter. She is married to MSNBC exec Bill Wolff, who doubles as a sports commentator on Bryant Park.

1. TVNewser: Having one foot in the radio world, and the other in the TV world is…
Stewart: A combo platter from professional heaven. On one hand, I get to host and develop a multiplatform show at a place like NPR News which is dedicated to in-depth discussion and providing context in a confusing world — in a way unique to radio/podcasts. Five blocks away at 30 Rock, I get to exercise my reporting chops on Nightly News through storytelling with the goal of providing viewers information in a way only TV can. And then filling in on Countdown is pretty much the best gig in cable.

2. TVNewser: Working with my husband is:
Stewart: Easy. Our weekly radio sports segment is a slice of our real life conversations. I am so sports challenged and it is his passion, having been a producer and on-air talent at ESPN. So the conversations we have on the radio are the ones we have at home. We never actually worked together at MSNBC. He worked in Primetime and I was a dayside anchor, same supermarket only he worked in produce and I was over in frozen foods. We did our best not to blur any lines. I rarely saw him once we got to work and we actually had a rule on our commute in — no shop talk.

(photo by Stephen Voss, (c) 2007 NPR)

3. TVNewser: Being the only African-American girl in my high school graduating class in New Jersey was…
Stewart: Character building. I learned independence. I learned to consider the source. Like many minorities I was called a name or two and asked things like if I washed my hair. I remember one teacher calling me aside and telling me she was going to push me because I seemed bright, and “my people” could be a little lazy so she was going help me reach my potential. Nice. My parents did their best to provide outside opportunities to be around other black kids, through clubs, exchange programs with another schools and summers in predominantly black communities.

4. TVNewser: My MTV days were:
Stewart: Creative, intense, wild and the best field training a segment producer could get. I was 25 years old when I was asked to produce MTV’s first election coverage. They asked me one week in January of ’92 and the next week I was in New Hampshire interviewing this giant guy who was the governor of Arkansas. We were given incredible support and freedom to create something new and innovative. Oh yeah, and when I wasn’t on the political beat I got to interview Mick Jagger, go on the road with Gwen Stefani and shoot fashion shows with Cindy Crawford in Hawaii. It was a great ride.

5. TVNewser: The 2008 Presidential campaign is shaping up to be…
Stewart: Surprising. I really think someone like (Mike) Huckabee is going to suddenly break out of the pack. Someone who is thought to be the frontrunner will have a fall. I’m excited to be the on the air during all this!