Milwaukee Talks: CBS 58 News morning anchor Jessica Tighe
Jessica Tighe is an appreciative person. While the Elm Grove native has worked in West Virginia, the Quad Cities and La Crosse, now she's home and co-anchoring the morning news on CBS 58. Ask Tighe how it feels – even though she's been back for three years – and she actually gets goose bumps: "I love being here. I have family here. I'm invested in this market," she says with a smile.
Despite her early-morning hours, Tighe still finds time to get out and enjoy the city with her dog, and considers herself a real foodie. We caught up with her this month for the latest Milwaukee Talks.
OnMilwaukee: You're not used to being on the other side of the microphone, are you?
Jessica Tighe: No, it makes me a little nervous, which is odd. People don't think you get nervous when you're on TV.
Do you get nervous when you're on TV?
No. I was editor-in-chief of the Spartan Banner at Brookfield East High School. I got into the business because I love to write. Initially, I thought I would work for a newspaper or a magazine, and then somebody kind of approached me with TV. I did the announcements at schools. I remember being crazy nervous about that, like legs shaking under the desk, which is so funny because I was probably saying, "Girls tennis at 3 p.m."
Now when you're behind the anchor desk, do you just feel like you're talking to an empty room?
No, you feel like you're talking to people at home. I think that's how it should be. I mean, people are waking up in the morning to you, and a lot of time people are still in their PJs. They're brushing their teeth and getting ready. The whole point of why we're there is to let them know what happened while they were sleeping, what's going on right now, what's coming up for the day. It's really to inform them. Of course, we're giving you hard news, but at the end of the day I still want you to feel like you know me a little bit.
The pinnacle of doing TV would be either night time anchoring or morning anchoring. At a pretty young age, you're already doing one of these things.
You're killing me. Young, I love it. I'm not old, but I don't think of myself as young.
But to be at this point in your career at that age, that's kind of a big deal, right?
I think I've gotten used to it. I was in a morning anchor spot in my last market in the Quad Cities. We covered Iowa and Illinois. At that time, I felt that I was in a great spot for my age. I think things have changed a little bit, so I don't feel so young for where I am. I feel like I have a lot of experience under my belt: 13 years. Of course, you have veterans in this market who have been doing this for decades and decades.
Growing up in Milwaukee, do you recognize people from the business who've been here forever?
Thirteen years compared to some of the people in this market, I have a lot of respect. I grew up watching people in this market. I think I was more nervous interviewing here in Milwaukee than I would have been in New York City. It's because I really cared about it.
You're from Elm Grove. What's it like to be working in your home market?
It gives me the goose bumps when you say it. I get the chills. I don't take it for granted. When I got the call, the job actually at the time wasn't open yet. They knew somebody was going to be going, so they were doing a search. The news director at the time had looked at people around the country and basically called and said, "Hey, we don't know if you're available or interested, but I've got this gig." I thought, "You're kidding, I'm definitely interested! That's my hometown!" I think my mom was bouncing off the walls and I was like, "I'm not even up there yet. Hold on."
Yes. I love it. I love being here. I have family here. I'm invested in this market. Both my dad and stepmom are in Mequon. My mom and stepdad are in Elm Grove. My grandparents, until they passed away, were in River Hills. I have an uncle who works downtown, and I have brothers who've come back to be here. This is home.
CBS 58 seems to have an emphasis on a more serious approach to local news than some other places. Can you speak to that a little bit?
I think at the end of the day, we don't want to waste your time. I do work for a morning show, so we like to have a little bit of fun. We might give you something more on the lighter side, but it's also what people are talking about. We're informing you in that capacity. We don't do silly.
You're kind of a silly person in real life, though, right?
You think? I can be a little silly. To the people who know me, I can definitely have my light side and I'm certainly fun, but I'm pretty serious at work. It's business, and I care a lot about my stuff.
Do you think what people see on the air is a true reflection of you?
Yes. I don't even know how you would describe "TV Jessica," because it just doesn't feel like somebody. It's just me. As an anchor, do you miss being in the field and reporting? My first job I was reporting, but I got promoted to anchor spot. Second job, I went as a reporter and got promoted to anchor spot. Then I started to like that. At the end of the day that reporting experience is key to being a good anchor.
I was one-man-banding before they called it MMJ in West Virginia and running with my heels with the camera and the tripod. It was the one time I had good, defined muscles.
What was it like being 22 and running around West Virginia?
First day out of college, I graduated from Indiana University, and my dad moved me there and found a place, and three days later I was working. I think that's key, and at the end of the day you're still using all that.
Does it help to really get out in the community?
Without a doubt. I think that's where the best story ideas come from. You work some seriously crazy hours.
What time do you wake up in the morning?
My alarm goes off at 1:50. Brutal.
What time are you at the TV station?
What time do you go to bed at night?
Way too early. I don't live on a lot of sleep. When it's winter, I try to go to bed at 7 or 7:15. Can you do it? During the winter time. It seems like all of a sudden after the holidays, it's dark and you don't feel like you're missing out as much, right? Then I can. Then it seems like Daylight Saving comes around. All of a sudden, I'm out the door again.
In your perfect world, would you like to be doing the 10 p.m. news, or are you happy with this morning?
I've actually done pretty much every shift. There's not a perfect shift in news. You don't get into this job thinking you're going to have perfect hours. I like the mornings because you have a chance to have a little bit more personality, to be off the cuff a little bit. Today, Michael, our meteorologist threw my dog up on the screen real quick. He had a picture of him for National Pet Picture Day. I didn't know that was happening. You can have those fun moments. It's not a rigid as the night.
Social media has changed this, as well. Now you're expected to not just be on TV when you're on TV, you're also expected to be representing the station basically 24 hours a day.
It's even changed during my time. In the beginning, I never would have gone on Facebook. I would have felt naughty. I do keep my Instagram private, but I've thought about opening that up. It's just how many different social media accounts do you want to have? Do you want to have 7? Because you could have 12.
What's it like to get recognized in public?
In my other markets, my trips to the grocery store would be probably an hour and 15 minutes when they shouldn't be, but people appreciate that. I like talking with people. In Milwaukee, because it's a bigger city, it's hit or miss. Not everybody will come up and say something. I always like when people do. I'd rather they come up than just stare.
Speaking of this food, you are a serious foodie, right?
I just love food. I love the flavors. I'm not a foodie as in I know everything about every kind of food. I wouldn't say that. Some people are like that. They know everything and maybe they went to culinary school. I just love to eat. For the most part, I rarely go to chains. I love supporting local. I think that's really important. Those are the best (business) stories.
Where do you like right now?
I love Braise. I think that's great. I was with a friend at the derby party at the Iron Horse Hotel. We hadn't made a reservation, so we just wanted to go somewhere quick, and I called and said could you get us in? They said you'd have to sit at the Chef's Table. I thought that sounded like a blast. Done. I had such a good time.
I love sitting outside, too. I love the Harbor House. That view, you can't beat it. I wish I could have a table that said reserved. I love the new Carnivore, too. Not a place you go all the time, because it's a really, really good steak. I was shocked when they opened up the new location because I thought it's hard to do better, right, than that first one that people love. It just has such a fun atmosphere. They're really good there. I just love smart business people, too.
In all of your free time, which seems like you don't have any, what else do you do?
I have a dog, so I take a lot of walks along the lake. I live on the East Side. I love being Downtown. It's so great to see people out and biking and walking. I can go to the Art Museum. I don't want winter to come.
You seem like a really appreciative person.
How can you not be? You're in your hometown and surrounded by family. A lot of my friends at this point have moved on to other cities. I was gone for a long time. I chose to come back.
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