Fox News Channel’s Anna Kooiman talks with Opportunist’s Managing Editor Leslie Stone about the New Year’s Eve program she is co-hosting, the most memorable news stories she has covered and what it was like to run the Boston Marathon this year.
Anna Kooiman joined the Fox News Channel in 2011 as a New York-based health and fitness correspondent and general assignment reporter. She currently co-hosts “Fox & Friends Weekend” from 6 to 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays, and reports regularly on “Fox & Friends.”
Tomorrow night Kooiman will co-host “All-American New Year,” Fox News Channel’s special New Year’s Eve program, along with “The Five” co-hosts Kimberly Guilfoyle and Bob Beckel, Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery (host of Fox Business’ “The Independents”) and “O’Reilly Factor” correspondent Jesse Watters.
“We will be on top of the Knickerbocker Hotel in the heart of Times Square, watching the ball drop and doing the countdown,” says Kooiman. “It will be electric, I’m sure! I’m really excited to be appearing with four co-hosts. The banter between everyone is going to be fun. If you’re going to spend a holiday with people who are not your friends and family, you want it to be fun. This will definitely fit the bill.”
During the program, which airs from 9 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. ET, viewers will be encouraged to share their New Year’s resolutions on social media by using the hashtag #foxnews2015. Viewers will also have an opportunity to vote on their favorite music video of 2014 via the Fox News Facebook page. Foxnews.com will also host a New Year’s Eve event page that gives users access to multiple live video streams and highlights all content related to the occasion, including the biggest moments of 2014. Viewers can log on at: http://live.foxnews.comm/aanye.
Fox News Channel’s senior correspondent Rick Leventhal will be reporting on the safety and security of New Year’s Eve celebrations across the city and channel contributors Bernard McGurik and Joanne Nosuchinsky will be live from Times Square covering the spectators.
Opportunist: Anna, can you give us a sneak preview of ‘All-American New Year?’
Anna Kooiman: ‘All-American New Year’ is going to be an interactive show. It’s not just us the hosts talking. It will be more conversational based this year, with lots of social media and responding to viewers on Facebook and Twitter. In previous years there were two hosts; now there are five hosts plus several reporters out in the field. We will talk to them to see the flavor of what is going on where they are. Jesse Watters and I host the first hour together, and the remainder of the show will feature five of us. The producers have made it so that we each have one segment that we kind of own.
Opportunist: What is your segment about?
Anna Kooiman: Fitness. There’s a big trend right now for people to go to smaller, niche studios instead of big box gyms. It’s huge in New York and it’s getting to be that way in other cities too. I’m touring everyone around three boutique fitness centers in New York City. One is 305 Fitness, named after Miami’s area code, which is a dance cardio workout. Another one is SWERVE, a spin studio where they divide you up into teams and there’s a leaderboard and you compete. I also visit SLT: Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone. It’s like Pilates on crack. [Laughs] During the segment, I dance with the DJ at 305 Fitness, and I do the workout on the Megaformer at SLT with the Pilates class and then we will come out and talk about our New Year’s resolutions and how we can all try to stick to them.
Opportunist: How did you get your start as a reporter?
Anna Kooiman: I went to University of North Carolina-Wilmington and majored in Communications. After graduating, I went to work for the local ABC affiliate as a one-man-band reporter and fill-in anchor. Then I got a gig as a morning anchor at the NBC affiliate in Toledo, Ohio, and did a little bit of reporting there. After Toledo, I moved back to my hometown, Charlotte, N.C., and hosted the ‘Fox News Rising’ morning show. It was the same type of chat show where you sit on the couch, or in this case red leather cozy chairs [Laughs] and shoot the breeze about what’s going on and talk about different sides and angles to the same story. Then, three years ago, I got my dream job with Fox News Channel and a couple years ago I was promoted to ‘Fox & Friends.’ It was always my dream to be on ‘Fox & Friends,’ so that was pinch-yourself-exciting for me. About a year ago, I signed a new contract to be our weekend anchor, which, again, I have to pinch myself to believe sometimes.
Opportunist: Who inspired your career?
Anna Kooiman: I’m very driven by success. On my first day as an intern in this business I got the fire in my belly. I remember in college I had a couple of friends say, ‘Why do you want to do this? You’re just a girl from North Carolina, how do you think you’re ever going to make it to New York?’ Sometimes when people say you cannot do something that makes you want to do it even more.
Opportunist: What do you enjoy most about working for Fox?
Anna Kooiman: The opportunity. We are No. 1 in cable TV, and it’s an honor.
Opportunist: What is your favorite type of news story to cover?
Anna Kooiman: I don’t have a favorite. I like all of them—whether it’s education or politics or trends in anything entertainment or pop culture—which is why I think I’m a good fit for ‘Fox & Friends.’ It’s more of a taste of everything than the other straight news shows are.
Opportunist: Can you share a few of your favorite career highlights?
Anna Kooiman: Covering the opening of the 9/11 Memorial Museum for sure. Living in New York, Sept. 11 is a date that has so much significance. It’s very difficult. Everybody we talked to knew somebody who perished that day. We spent the whole week around it.
I have done lots of emotional stories and stories with wounded veterans dealing with PTSD and amputees struggling to get their life back in order.
Reporting from Times Square a couple years ago with a million people around me. I had only been there one other time when I was 21 or 22, so it was obviously a very different experience to be warm, to have a place to move around and access to the restroom. [Laughs] Watching the entertainment on stage and being with the NYPD K-9 Unit and doing interviews was cool. The Daytona 500. The Kentucky Derby. The access you get as a reporter is very different than it would be if you just went on your own. Getting to do the fitness segment and help host this year’s New Year’s Eve show is without a doubt something I will never forget. It’s an amazing opportunity.
Opportunist: You are known for your work in supporting charitable causes. We understand you ran the New York Marathon in November and raised more than $50,000 for Folds of Honor, a military charity that provides scholarships and assistance to the spouses and children of those killed or disabled while serving their country.
Anna Kooiman: Our viewers came out in full force. What was neat about it too is I got to meet lots of the recipients from Folds of Honor. That’s how we got to promote it. The week before the race we interviewed close to a dozen recipients about what the scholarship meant to them. One 27-year-old woman had lost her husband when she was seven months pregnant and he went off to fight the war on terror. Her baby is not going to have a father and she’s trying to put herself together enough to be a mom. She wanted to go back to school and get her education. She now has peace of mind knowing her education is taken care of—and her son’s education too.
That keeps you motived when you’re at mile 22, after literally running for almost four hours, and you’re thinking Why am I doing this again? Even the training ahead of time, planning your eating and sleeping schedule is such a huge commitment.
Opportunist: What was it like to compete in the Boston Marathon, and report live from the event, a year after the bombings?
Anna Kooiman: I’ve never run that one before and so I don’t have much to specifically compare it to. But I did some interviews ahead of time with people who were running for the Boston One Fund [the charity for victims of the Boston Marathon bombings and their families] who had loved ones who had been injured the year before. So, obviously, it was emotionally raw for everybody I think. I saw lots red, white and blue, and there was lots of encouragement from everybody along the entire 26.2-mile route.
Opportunist: Take us through a typical day in the life of Anna Kooiman.
Anna Kooiman: On the weekends I have to get up at 3:30 in the morning. A car comes to get me, and I get to work at 4 a.m. to prepare. I spend about an hour in hair and makeup, and then I meet with producers and go over the day’s show. The show airs from 6 to 10 a.m. and then we do the ‘after the show’ show, which is a short—about five minutes—Internet show of anchors sitting on the couch shooting the breeze in a more relaxed setting. Then I go home, and by the afternoon everything for interview segments the next day starts coming in. I study that for a couple of hours. As I’m going to bed I try to watch our prime time shows, such as ‘The Kelly File’ and Bill O’Reilly to be up to date with people we have had on-air during the big shows before us. During the week, if I’m not filling in, I’m out reporting in the field rather than anchoring.
Opportunist: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Anna Kooiman: I love seeing shows, music, going to Central Park, Washington Square Park and running along the Hudson River. The food is amazing here too. I have a yellow Lab who weighs about 110 pounds. His name is Baxter and he has been with me through all my different apartments in North Carolina, Toledo and New York. He’s been kind of the staple in my life and I post a lot of pictures of him on social media. Every once in a while he comes to the studio.
Opportunist: What else do you hope to achieve during your career?
Anna Kooiman: I hope to stay with Fox for a very long time.
Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer, editor with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides in Florida and Michigan. Follow Leslie on Twitter: @lescstone.
Follow Anna Kooiman on Twitter: @annakooiman