Milwaukee Talks: "Morning Blend" host Tiffany Ogle
The positive and caffeinated person you see weekday mornings on "The Morning Blend" is not an act for Tiffany Ogle. Always an optimist, there's no alter ego at all, says the Minnesota native with the most diverse resumé you'll ever see.
Yes, many know the 34-year-old Ogle for her time as a Miss America contestant, but she's a legit artist, singer, TV pitch woman and philanthropist – in addition to her daily duties on "The Blend." And lots has changed in her life since we first spoke to her in 2009, a week after she arrived in Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee.com: Last time we talked to you, you were a brand new Milwaukeean. Now, you've been here long enough to figure this place out.
Tiffany Ogle: I joined NEWaukee, too.
OMC: I've got to get this out of the way. You have the most unusual resume I've ever seen. It's very diverse. I think one of your references says that you "puke diamonds."
TO: Yeah, that was one of my directors from MTV. I did "Made" on MTV, which is a show where they travel around the country, and they interview high schoolers who want to be made into something. The girl that I made over, she was really big into anime. I had to make her into a beauty queen.
OMC: Did it work?
TO: She won. She was one of the only teens that won.
OMC: And you puked diamonds?
OMC: What does that mean?
TO: Well, it was a reality show, so it's all unscripted. It's all off the cuff, and it was maybe six weeks, I think, when we filmed, and so it was all candids. Stacy was the director. She'd pull me aside during something and say, "Let's talk about what's happening," and then she just said I was beautiful. "You puke diamonds."
OMC: Obviously, people have talked a lot about your Miss Minnesota crown. Everyone knows about that. But there's a lot more. You hosted a golf show?
TO: I hosted a golf show for five years in Minnesota on the NBC station. It was just for three months (a year). It was the most watched golf show in the history there. It was great. We didn't feature golfers. We featured stories about Minnesota golf.
OMC: Are you a golfer?
TO: I had a little bit of a background in golf, but I'm not an expert.
OMC: Then you had a home shopping show?
TO: Shop NBC, which is now ShopHQ. I had a couple lines on there. I had a gold jewelry line. It was a line out of Italy that I represented, which was great because they sent me to Italy to learn how it was made and learn the culture and the stories behind it, which was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I have a new jewelry line that I'm starting out there in May or June.
OMC: That's still happening?
TO: Yeah, and that will be an Israeli line, so women from Israel who created this really beautiful silver line of jewelry.
OMC: And you can still do that even with "The Morning Blend" going on?
TO: As a guest on shopping, it's a pretty low commitment. I'll probably go out there, for this line, like once a month.
OMC: You're a motivational speaker, too. What's that all about?
TO: For the Miss America program, that's when a lot of it started because you speak about something you're passionate about, a platform, and mine was children's safety, so I spent eight, nine years speaking for children's safety issues. April was Children's Safety Awareness Month.
I spoke for the Jacob Wetterling Foundation there for years, and then kind of connected with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for a couple of years, and just talked to student groups, schools, parents, community organizations. That kind of spawned through the Miss America program. They basically asked, "Can you come out and talk about achieving your goals?"
So then they just started asking to speak about other things, and I did improv professionally for eight years.
OMC: Like comedy improv?
TO: Yes, I started that in college, and so one of the speeches that I did was "Life Is Improv'able." It was talking about how to use improv. I did another one on networking, and it's basically how people in the acting industry get branding and marketing right.
OMC: Oh, and you're a painter?
TO: I paint, as well, and I draw. I have a broad spectrum of talents. None of them are very in depth. I didn't know that I could paint the recent way that I painted. I painted Miller Park for UPAF, for a charity event at TMJ4, which I helped run at work, and so I painted a picture of Miller Park. We sold it there, but I didn't know that I could do that until I tried it.
OMC: You just grabbed like a paint brush, and were like, "Oh, look at that?"
TO: I found a picture of something that I really loved. I knew I could draw, so then I decided, well, why don't I try painting it, so I tried painting it, and it worked. I think it's kind of one of those like that's a great message for people. Sometimes you don't know that you have a skill until you try something outside of your box and think, "Well, I have this little piece of a skill. Maybe if I try something new," and you kind of surprise yourself.
OMC: Not being an expert on the world of pageantry, is this typical of beauty pageant contestants? Are you all renaissance women like this?
TO: I'd like to say yes.
OMC: Is that how you get to be in pageants?
TO: I mean, everybody's so different. The way that you get to be it is you have to have a talent. Mine was not painting. I sing, so mine was singing.
OMC: Of course you do.
TO: Yep, and this is the Miss America organization specifically. They give around $45 million every year for women in scholarships, so you have to have really high grades. You have to be very involved in the community, and then you have to have something that you're passionate about, and that's your platform.
OMC: Because it's more than just beauty.
TO: Right. There's a swimsuit competition, and there's still an element of a beauty pageant.
OMC: Do you think the viewers of "Morning Blend" know this stuff about? How much of this do you let in?
TO: I think we're pretty transparent, to be honest. Molly (Fay) and I have moments where we kind of let those things come out, but the way the show is formatted, we don't talk about ourselves all that much.
OMC: You're talking about other people …
TO: Yeah, we talk about other people, and that's your job as a host is to make other people look good and highlight what they do, so we don't spend as much time talking about those little things, but we give glimpses.
OMC: Speaking of transparency, I think it's understood that some people pay to be on "The Morning Blend," and some people don't.
OMC: I mean, I don't. I but ...
TO: Because you are so cool like that.
OMC: Yeah, sure. But do you consider yourself a journalist/host or sometimes a journalist, sometimes a host, or all-the-time host?
TO: I would say Molly considers herself a journalist/host. I consider myself an entertainer and host because we come from different backgrounds. I come from acting. She comes from investigative reporting, so that's where I would say that, but in terms of the show, yeah, there's businesses and things like that. They showcase their product, so a lot of them pay to be on the show. There's no hiding that fact.
OMC: But the show never calls itself a news product anyway, right?
OMC: They're in a separate department at Channel 4?
TO: Yeah, we're kind of on the advertising side, but, I mean, we try and advertise for celebrities, non-profits, chefs, all the people who don't pay to be on, as well, and community features.
OMC: Is it tricky to talk in an excited way about certain guests – and I'm not singling out anyone – but, say, a gutter guy?
TO: Have you seen Nutsy the Squirrel?
OMC: I have not.
TO: If you did, you would realize how exciting gutters can be.
OMC: How do you show an equal amount of enthusiasm for great topics and less great topics?
TO: I think that part of the job is to be curious, and I would say, even if it's something that's less exciting, you have to be curious about why they care about it. It kind of goes back to the point where I said, as a host, your job is to make someone else look good. Everybody loves what they do.
I think that's the bottom line at the end of the day. People do what they do because there's some element that excites them, whether it's just bringing home the right kind of paycheck or it's because they love the product they sell or they love the people they work with or they like the people they get to meet, and so you have to be curious about why they care about it. That's what gets me excited, is finding kind of the stories behind what people do.
OMC: How much of an alter ego are you on TV versus yourself?
TO: I should probably take on more of an alter ego. Maybe it would go well for me, but I'd say 3 percent, honestly, because there are days when you come on and you're not in a good mood.
OMC: What do you do then?
TO: You're tired or whatnot, and you have to put on that "good morning" face. Everybody does this on a day-to-day basis. You have a meeting or you go hang out with friends and you didn't really feel like it, and once you get there, all of a sudden, it's infectious and you take it on and you become it.
OMC: But that's really you?
TO: Yeah, that's really me. So when I get there, I might not be in the best mood that morning or maybe I'm tired, but the moment we start, Molly and I start chatting or something funny happens or someone interesting says something, it just kind of sparks the moment, anyway.
OMC: Five years into this, are you having fun with it?
TO: I love it. Every day is different, which is what excites me. Sometimes, I wish we had more time.
OMC: More than an hour?
TO: More time with certain guests. Hey, I'd be fine having a five-hour show. I would love it to change a little bit. I mean, one of the things that I've said recently is some of the people who are most intriguing ... We had this great guy come on the other day who's an author, Jason Padgett. His book is "Struck by Genius." He was mugged and became a savant. It was the most fascinating story. I had him stick around so I could talk to him during the commercial breaks.
OMC: The model must be working. They've replicated "The Morning Blend" in other markets because of your success, right?
OMC: But you guys were the first ones.
TO: We were the first ones. We're kind of the premiere.
OMC: Is that cool to know that they took a chance on you. You did it well enough, and now there are (shows) like Vegas "The Morning Blend?"
TO: Yeah. I think there's five markets, and it wasn't me at first. It was Allison and Molly, so they're the ones who really kind of laid the foundation and made it work.
OMC: OK, getting off of work a little bit, you've been here long enough to have formed an opinion about Milwaukee. I'm sure people said to you, "Oh, Minnesota, Wisconsin, they're the same thing." They're not. Minneapolis and Milwaukee are not the same place.
OMC: But do you like it?
TO: I love it.
OMC: Do you want to stay?
TO: Yeah, I've stayed this long because I love it. I don't know if you know this about me, but I grew up in a town of 600 people.
OMC: I did not know that about you.
TO: So when they say "Smallwaukee," that, to me, is like home. I love it. I like being able to go anywhere and seeing someone that you know and feeling like every little place that you go is kind of a mini "Cheers," and Milwaukee's very much that. I miss bigger cities, but I can go home, or I can go to Chicago.
OMC: Do you? Do you visit?
TO: I do. I don't get back as much as I'd like. I probably go back three to five times a year.
OMC: What part of Milwaukee do you live in?
OMC: Do you use your real name on TV?
TO: Yeah. You know what's funny? At Miss America, I got grilled by the Washington Post if my name was really Tiffany Ogle.
OMC: They thought that was a fake name?
TO: Yeah. I'm like, "Why would I choose Tiffany Ogle as a fake name?"
OMC: Do you think it takes a while for Milwaukee to embrace new people?
TO: I felt the opposite. I felt like an adopted cheesehead immediately. But maybe that's just me. I'm kind of an optimist, so I'm the kind of person, when I go and I meet people, I don't assume people don't like me. I assume people like me because I like them. Everybody was extremely nice right away. People would ask me, though, right away, "Are you a Vikings fan or not?"
OMC: Like it's your fault that you're from Minnesota.
TO: I know, but I'm not a Vikings fan. I mean, I'm not a big football fan, in general, as people know.
OMC: May I ask how old you are?
TO: Yeah, I'm 34. I had to think about that.
OMC: You are in a visual medium that doesn't tend to respect women as they age. When you hit 40, 50, can you still do this?
TO: Yeah. Look at all the people in this market over 40. Here's what I would say. I think the entertainment business tells you when it's time to leave.
Especially here, I don't think people are as superficial as some place like an L.A. market, where maybe people are a lot younger, in their 20s and 30s only, or much more seasoned as an anchor. I mean, you kind of have that gap in there, but I don't think so. I think especially in the Midwest, people care more about quality. You have to maintain a certain standard of physical appearance, You've got to brush your hair.
OMC: Right, but assuming you do that, which you will, can you be in this career in this market as long as you want?
TO: I hope so.
OMC: Or is there a logical point where you'll transition into something else, or don't you think about that?
TO: I haven't really thought about it yet, to be honest. I think what I have thought about is just how fortunate I feel to be able to do it because no matter ... It's not always the most talented people who get the best jobs. Sometimes, it's the right timing. It's the right look. It's the right age. I mean, I probably wouldn't have been hired if I looked exactly like Molly because you don't want two people who look the same.
OMC: You do have a pretty primo time slot. I mean, you don't have to wake up at 3 in the morning.
TO: Thank God.
OMC: You don't have to work at midnight.
TO: Thank God.
OMC: When do you get in? When do you leave?
TO: I get there at 7:30, and I'm part-time, so I'm able to leave at about 11:30.
OMC: Oh, you're a part-time employee?
OMC: People might not understand this, but when I do an hour of live TV, that wipes me out. Is that the same for you?
TO: Thank you for mentioning that, because you've done it now.
OMC: Oh, yeah. If I'm on for eight minutes, I feel like I've worked like eight hours.
TO: Yes. I think people feel like, 'oh, you're just playing out there.' We make it look easy.
OMC: Right, that's your job.
TO: Everybody makes it look easy because it's our job. Yeah, and it's certainly fun, but there's a lot of energy, and there's a lot of planning and, mind you, it's not all by us. I mean, Molly, Katie, Kim ...
OMC: There's a lot of people.
TO: Yeah, there are producers and directors.
OMC: There are tons of people buzzing around doing stuff.
TO: Yes, always, and we can't do what we do without them. It's very tiring.
OMC: Where do you like to go? What do you like to do? Where do you try and meet people?
TO: Where don't I try and meet people? Some of my favorite places, I love Camp in Shorewood. I love Taylor's, Bugsy's. Those are three that I probably frequent the most, but I like everything. Sometimes, I dance at Whiskey.
OMC: So people see you out?
TO: Yeah, absolutely.
OMC: Do you get recognized?
TO: Yeah, absolutely.
OMC: Is that working out in a good way?
TO: Yeah, I love it. I mean, there's nothing that makes me happier when someone comes up and says that they watch the show. Or, "You know what? I don't like what you wore the other day." Sorry, I won't wear it again. Also, you know what I just did?
OMC: What did you just do?
TO: I did the ART Bus.
OMC: Yes. Was that fun?
TO: It was so fun. It was very cultural, but I feel like I need to do it again and pay more attention to the art.
OMC: Art, culture, drinking and a bus.
TO: Yes, and a bus. Can you get more Milwaukee than that?
OMC: What else are you up to?
TO: A lot of community work. I think that's one thing that people don't realize or think about. They think we get to do our fun, glamorous job on camera, but they don't realize that we care a lot about the community. We do a lot of non-profit events and a lot of charity events and galas.
OMC: Do you have to buy your own fancy clothes?
TO: We do our own hair, our own makeup and our own styling.
OMC: You're still emceeing the Chinooks games this year?
TO: Yep. I'll be doing the Chinooks. I started last year.
OMC: Was it fun?
TO: It was a blast.
OMC: What about the emceeing the Bucks games?
TO: The Bucks games were fantastic. I did the in-game hosting, so I was an in-arena host. What I will say is people who only go for the game, great. It's a good game. We didn't win a lot, but the entertainment factor ...
OMC: Are you going to go back and do that next season?
TO: I would love to. I hope they ask me back.
OMC: Finally, and I hate to even bring this up, but I will: There seems to be a long-running joke about not being married.
TO: I will say I get calls.
OMC: Are you getting tired of people asking you about this?
TO: No. I get calls from viewers, though, worried if I'm going to be able to get married and have children. People have asked me like, "You need to settle down," because they know my age. I don't hide my age.
OMC: Is that something you want to do?
TO: Absolutely, but I'm not in a rush. I would say I've started kind of joking on the show a little bit about feeling the clock ticking. We have doctors come on all the time that say, "After 35, it's an elderly pregnancy if you want to have kids."
OMC: You're elderly?
TO: Yeah. Women have children happily and healthily into their 40s. And I am dating. That's all I'll say.
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