Meet the news babes: They're serious, professional media journalists. Is it their fault they're perky and have hair that looks great even during live remotes from three-alarm blazes?
Of course not. And yet some smart aleck from San Francisco has gone and dedicated a Web page to the women of television news, a tribute based not on their journalistic training and ability to pronounce the word "Chechnya," but on the fact that they have two X chromosomes and look dynamite in a red blazer.
In explaining the why behind his "News Babe Page" (http://www.well.com/user/jeffreyp/newsbabe1.html), Jeffrey P. McManus, a Bay Area hipster and freelance journalist, describes his obsession with female TelePrompTees this way:
"I love everything about news babes--the heavily lacquered hair, the red blazers, the pearls, and especially the razor's-edge balancing act between flippant casualness and no-nonsense professionalism."
The master list features color pictures of news babes from all over the country--including a few from Phoenix. Descriptive icons give pertinent biographical details: a gold crown beside the photo indicates "a beauty pageant winner"; a tiny rain cloud denotes "news babe is actually a weather babe"; a ring denotes a married news babe ("according to her Web page bio"). Each news babe features a link to her local station's Web page. (Incidentally, a flippantly casual, albeit no-nonsense, Web site dedicated to the local news team seems to be the major qualifying factor for news babedom, beyond gender and a job as a TV journalist.)
So how do the news babes of Phoenix feel about this slightly obsessive tribute to their feminine infotainment worth? New Times' hard-hitting online reporter was the first on the scene to put the tough questions to these news babes. (All work at KNXV-TV, News 15, the only station in town with its own promotional Web site. Until New Times called, none was aware of her selection to news babedom.)
Name: Darya Folsom
Occupation: Anchorpersonage, KNXV-TV, Channel 15.
Red blazer: Yes.
Interests, as listed on KNXV's Web page: "A professional flutist, Darya is also an avid sports enthusiast."
Opinion about membership in news babedom: "I am such an uncomputer person, it's an awful thing. I still read books. . . . Sounds like a one-stop-shopping source of information for stalkers. That's really good. Now that I'm aware of it, I feel honored to take part. I think everybody knows that this business is more than journalism. We all know that. You're a journalist first, and then you're a news babe. Let's admit it. . . . But I aim not to distract, and I don't think I'm a distracting Barbie-type."
Experience with obsessive male fans: "I've gotten some letters from guys, sure, and they usually carry the precursor of, '. . . I am not a nut, but can we meet for lunch?' That kind of thing."
Turn-ons: "Really hot news stories" [laughs].
Turn-offs: "It's hard for me to find the positive side of stalkers, so I would say that's definitely a turn-off."
Name: Lori Nixon
Occupation: Weekend anchorpersonage and reporter, KNXV-TV, Channel 15.
Red blazer: Probably.
Interests, as listed on KNXV's Web page: "A gifted vocalist, Lori enjoys interacting with young people."
Opinion about membership in news babedom: "I don't know what to say. I'm just so dumfounded by it. It's almost like it's a joke. . . . Do you have the number or address?"
Experience with obsessive male fans: "Of course, there are a lot of wackos. You have to be very, very careful what you do. Obviously, I have no control over what's going on on the Internet, and certainly I haven't had any problems--up until now. But of course, it's a concern. My goodness! . . . In Albuquerque, I got a few [letters from convicts], but here I haven't gotten any love letters."
Turn-ons: "My turn-ons and turn-offs? You don't expect me to answer that question, just so you can write about it. I am not even going to touch that question. I'm trying to stay employed. [Pauses.] What did Darya tell you?"
Name: Kathy Reilly
Occupation: Morning and noontime anchorpersonage, KNXV-TV, Channel 15.
Red blazer: Yes, although it looks coffee-colored in her black-and-white publicity still (pictured). "Oh, you have to have one," she explains.
Interests, as listed on KNXV's Web page: Winning Emmy awards.
Opinion about membership in news babedom: "That's nice, I guess. To be called a news babe, I guess, is flattering. But, you know, I think the journalist in me says, 'Why should that have anything to do with it?'"
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Experience with obsessive male fans: "I'm not worried about that. Maybe I should be. You get some letters. Everybody gets some, but you have your little stalker file just in case something happens, so people know where to look."
Turn-ons: "Don't they do this in the Playboy centerfold thing? You know, turn-ons and turn-offs? Nah, I don't want to get sucked into that whole vortex."
Turn-offs: "Um, how about, 'inane questions'?