What is your official title?
TV Talk Show Host for “The Lori Moore Show”.
What’s an average day in the ‘Zoo look like for you?
My day, while some people may consider it to be early, now starts like I’m coming into the office at noon after what I did for 32 years getting up at 3:45am for radio; now I don’t have to be there until 8:00am. It’s so nice! It’s a new lease on life! I get there at 8:00am to News Channel 3 studios to prepare for our taping. We tape at 10:15 every morning, and we tape my show in real time, so we do it as if we’re doing it live, just taking breaks to change the guests. The first part of the day is preparing for my show. I have a producer, Courtney Frisbie, and she’s so great. She does a lot of the technical stuff and I prepare by boning up on the people that I will be talking to so I can ask intelligent questions and facilitate their message.
Then we tape the show, and then I am preparing for the next day. I book my own guests. It wasn’t originally planned that way, but I have the contacts and I know who I want on so it is just easier than delegating. That does take some time because we have three to four segments a day even though the show is only 30 minutes long.
Then I have part two of my day, which is always inevitably something in the evening, which could be emceeing an event or speaking at an event, hosting something, or attending an event in the community. Because my show is about the community, I try to get out as much as I can during the week and on weekends. I love being able to stay up past 9:00pm!
What is the Lori Moore Show?
It was something that WWMT felt there was a need for- a Kalamazoo-based show. All of the other TV stations had “West Michigan” shows, but they are primarily Grand Rapids and Holland and occasionally Muskegon; we wanted something that was focused on Kalamazoo and Battle Creek and the lower tier of Southwest Michigan. We are never at a loss for things to talk about.
Who do you interview?
It’s a cross section of guests. We talk to a lot of non-profit organizations, people who are striving to make our community a better place to live like The Kalamazoo Community Foundation.. We talk to people who are doing fundraisers of various sorts. We focus a lot on the arts in the community; Kalamazoo has such an unbelievable array of arts offerings, that there is something happening all of the time with that, whether it’s theater or music or the visual arts or Art Hop.
We also have clients who pay to be on to promote their businesses. It gives them a forum to showcase what they do.
Can you tell us about your background/passion?
It was a very cool experience last summer, I went to New York City to visit my brother, and visited the TV station that I worked at when I was at Hope College doing my internship. That was my initial plan – to be on TV. I just got a little sidetracked…for three decades… doing radio which had never occurred to me since it was decidedly a man’s world. There were consultants in fact that would tell you that people don’t want to hear women’s voices talking on the radio and would forbid the playing two female artists in a row. It was the early 80’s and it was a different time.
I came back to Kalamazoo after I graduated from Hope, and a friend gave me a part time job at WKMI radio to cover city commission meetings and school board meetings – all of the really glamorous stuff. But I loved it! I filled in on a show called Holiday & King, which at the time was a wildly popular radio team with these two seasoned pros who owned the station. I absolutely clicked with them, and I just never left radio because I couldn’t believe that you could get paid to joke around and talk and laugh. I’d drive home after doing the show and couldn’t believe how happy I was. I loved doing my show; I went to work every day looking forward to doing it. And I still felt that way until I did my last radio show many years later. What a cool job to have.
But it was time to do something new! We pitched the idea for my TV show, and it’s been great. It’s been on the air since September. It’s also allowed me to get into something that I left behind, which was theater; I did a lot of that when I was at Hope College, professionally and some summer stock. I was fortunate to do two dream shows at The Kalamazoo Civic: “Mame” & “Gypsy”, but getting up at 3:45am and doing theater did not go together well, so since I’ve been in this new job I’ve had the chance to do some professional theatre at Farmers Alley Theatre and have had a blast.
I grew up here in Portage. Portage was much different than it is now. We lived adjacent to a corn field that is now Constitution Blvd. You could ride your bikes three abreast down Milham and go to Southland. I went to St. Monica’s, then Portage Northern, then Hope. I’m a West Michigan girl!
What has been the biggest change(s) for you going from radio to television?
It’s somewhat daunting to go into a medium that is high definition when you’re 55 years old. It’s like HELLO! I kind of did it backwards! It’s different to think in a visual way because in radio you’re describing everything. You have to do much less describing because now I have visuals. I have to think about when I’m putting together the interviews how we can bring visuals to the story to make it better as opposed to just audio. It’s a different way of thinking. The timing is different, too. I had four hours to fill, and now I have 30 minutes to cram everything in, so that is also very different. Those are the biggest changes.
Who is has been your favorite person to interview?
That’s a tough question because there have been so many. Maybe one of the most interesting people I’ve interviewed, or I guess one of the most unique interviewing experiences was when an astronaut from Michigan named Jerry Linenger, was in the space shuttle while I was interviewing him. He was up in space, and he was describing what Michigan looked like from space. It was really cool. I can’t tell you the year, but it was unbelievable. There was a little bit of a delay, but nothing major; we were just chatting away!
If you could interview anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
How about Susan B. Anthony. I would love to talk to one of those feminists who went to jail so women could get to vote. Someone from that era – suffragists. I’d love to talk to that group of women. I made my daughter watch a Ken Burns documentary not long ago, because I don’t think that young women now realize what these people had to go through. And it wasn’t that long ago. I’d love to interview someone like that to see what it was like to fight that battle.
What do you love most about Kalamazoo?
I was thinking about that today because I knew it was one of your questions. Last week was such a good example of why I love living here. I went to two memorial concerts in Kalamazoo, one for Gail Kasdorf, who was just an angel to the arts and a wonderful person. The Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra put on a concert to honor her life at Chenery Auditorium. That started the weekend, and then Steve Zegree’s memorial concert was this past weekend. The entire stage of Miller Auditorium was filled with his former Gold Company students; it was just mind blowing how powerful that was, and a beautiful send off for Steve.
In between that I went to the Champs Awards, which are the Communities in Schools awards for people who volunteer there. I was basically in tears the whole time because there are so many giving, wonderful people who are trying to make a difference. To see them honored made for a tear-jerking event.
Then, on Friday I was interviewing a gentleman who was appearing at the Kalamazoo Valley Museum (such great programming there with their Friday Night Highlights) and he was a Prisoner of War for five years in Vietnam. His talk was about forgiveness, and you just think, “how could you after that experience?” He kept saying over and over “I love Kalamazoo, I want to live here, I want to tell everyone about it and that they should live here. Don’t ever leave!” He was so impressed with our community. When you live here, I think it can be easy to take what we have for granted, but when you get another person’s perspective telling you how vibrant and awesome your community is, it makes you look at it in a different way.
Last week was a really emotional, cool week that showed so many facets of why Kalamazoo is such a great place to live.
What do you think can be improved about Kalamazoo?
I’m going to get back on the Communities in Schools bandwagon; I feel so strongly about what they do. While I was at the radio station, I started an initiative called the Lori Moore Corps, which was a team of tutors. The Kalamazoo Promise is such an unbelievable gift, but when you realize what many of these kids are up against, they need a great deal of help to get to the point where they can take advantage of free college. Communities in Schools has many programs that help kids reach their potential. There are so many people doing it, but I think there are lots of people that want to get involved, but don’t know how to get involved or don’t know how to help. I think once they do they get hooked. I think if more people got involved behind the Promise, the possibilities would be endless.
I remember the morning I came to work and the news people told me about the Kalamazoo Promise; I thought it was a hoax. They said, ‘You won’t believe what happened at the school board meeting, everyone in Kalamazoo gets free college.’ And I was like, yeah right! Where’s Ashton Kutcher? We’ve been Punked! I said, ‘Get me Janice Brown’, who was the superintendent at the time, and she said ‘No, it’s true!’ People were calling the radio station at the time crying – men and women. They just couldn’t believe it was true. And because it was for everyone, there were people who didn’t think they would be able to ever afford college, and there were also people who had been saving their whole lives for it and were like, ‘Sailboat! Cottage!’ It was just a surreal, happy, unforgettable day when that was announced.
What have you been jammin’ to recently?
In the last month I have gone to more concerts than I’ve gone to in 10 years. I’m going to sound like an old lady, but I have some hipness thrown in. I went to see Heart, Hall and Oates, I went to Gordon Lightfoot the other night, Mary Chapin Carpenter and I went to Dowagiac to see Melissa Manchester. You probably don’t know who she is. “Don’t cry out loud!” I was just screaming “I LOVE YOU!” the whole time; she was so great.
Who else have I just seen? My brother Jeff keeps me hip and he took me to Tedeschi Trucks at the State Theater. I had never even heard of them, and they were so so so so so so awesome. My producer, Courtney and I are always jamming in our office, listening to Pandora; we have the office in the middle of the building, so we’re always singing loudly. She keeps me current and plays me the new songs, and I play her the old ones. We have everything from Ella Fitzgerald and show tunes to all of her stuff, like Beyonce and Pitbull. My daughter is 22, so I listen to some of her music too. We like to crank and sing “Ratchet Commandments” when we’re driving. Ha!!!! I have music going all of the time. Any time I’m awake.
How do you take your coffee?…or do you?
If you can believe it I got up all of those years without drinking coffee. I tried to like it! I tried so hard. People told me to try mochas and lattes; I tried every way imaginable, but I just hate it.
Do you have a “go to” spot in Kalamazoo?
It’s really fun because I moved from living out in the country in beautiful Mattawan – I lived there for many years – to living downtown now. My daughter is living with me while she is finishing up at Western. We have the thing on the fridge where the nightly deals are downtown. We hit up wherever it’s a half-off night! We know ‘em all, it’s so fun. If I have to pick one place, I’d pick Old Dog Tavern. It’s great – the people, the food, the music. And I should just get a cot at The State Theatre and live there I love it so much.
And Alamo Drafthouse is such a great addition to Kalamazoo. I’m one of their hosts for “Girlie Nights”, “Cheap Date Nights” and their sing-a-longs and quote-a-longs. Next up: VALLEY OF THE DOLLS on June 11. I don’t need any subtitles for that one!
How downtown has changed since I was growing up here is just mind blowing. It is awesome now. You can’t find a parking space! It was more of a retail center when I was growing up with the mall, and I wish we could magically get some of those places like Jacobson’s and Gilmore’s back. If we could mix some of those department stores with the current stuff we have going on downtown now, it would be perfect! It’s really cool how things have evolved down here.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think probably an actress. And so I kind of am. I joke about it, because people would always say, don’t you miss acting? I would say, what do you think sounding happy at 6:00 in the morning is? It’s acting! I’m acting, but I’m writing my own lines. I guess in a way I’m sort of doing it.
Who would play you in a movie?
When I was younger, before my hair turned “blonde” , I had black hair and I would always get mistaken for Jennifer Tilly. When I was in New York I would get stopped and asked for my autograph because people thought I was Jennifer Tilly.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
It sounds so cliché because I’m not good at it now, but I would say don’t worry so much about everything. Everything will work out. I would say that, and I would advise making more bold moves, too. In the past year, I have gone from living in the country to living in the city, being married to being single, and going from radio to TV – all in one year. It was a big year! It was pretty extreme, but it’s never too late to try something new.
My birthday was last week, just turned 56, and years ago, I was at an Indian restaurant in New York, and there was a fortune teller there. He said that when I was 56 it was going to be the best year, and I was going to be prosperous and happy, and listed all of these wonderful things. At the time I was like, man, I don’t want to wait for all of that until I’m 56, but now I am and I’m READY!
What is the future of the Lori Moore Show?
There are long range plans for it; we’re taking baby steps now as I learn. Hopefully, it’s going to expand to an hour down the road. We would also like to have it on Channel 3 at some point; I just have to bump off that Dr. Phil. Ha! Right now it’s a talk format in the studio, but I’m hoping to get out into the community more in the future. I’m excited about it. I have a fantastic team showing me the ropes.
What is your favorite radio show?
It is so terrible because I hate talk radio, and I was IN talk radio and I never listened to it. I could never say that before. It’s all so conservative and obnoxious and horrible. I can’t stand any of the blowhard pontificators. But there are a couple I like: Grassroots on WMUK. They play the old timey acoustic music, and I love that. What I like is music. My former on-air partner Richard Piet does a marvelous job doing mornings on WBCK, too.
How do you see the way that people consume media changing in the future?
Great question, because the internet has absolutely changed everything. Even with my show, a lot of the views are on the internet because it’s on the WWMT website as well. Thousands and thousands of hits are online.
I never thought in my lifetime that I would see what happened to newspapers. I was such a newspaper junkie. It’s not the same online. Sorry. I want ink on my hands.
When I started in radio, all of the stations were individually owned and operated, and you could only own so many because of FCC regulations. Now, there are three or four companies that own everything, and it is absolutely changed the offerings and job opportunities have dried up. You don’t need humans to do everything anymore because of computers and the internet.
In TV, I’m getting into it when there are things like Hulu and Amazon – all of these other ways to watch TV aside from the traditional way. Things are changing and they’re changing really fast. So I guess that’s the big question – what will come next?
You’ve been around doing radio and TV for the past few decades – what don’t we know about Lori Moore?
Just going back to going to when I went to New York to see my brother Greg last summer. Six years ago, on my birthday, he had an aortic aneurysm, and the hospital called me because he was on life support. My other brother Jeff, my mom and I went out there thinking the worst only to discover that he was a candidate to have a heart transplant. He has subsequently had his heart transplant, is doing great and when I there he got word that he was going to be performing at the newly reopened Rainbow Room – he’s a singer and bandleader. The Rainbow Room is at the top of 40 Rock; it’s a jazz-era club, and they had been closed for a long time. It was his dream.
On the same trip I went to the TV station where I did my internship in 1980 – Channel 5. I stood outside thinking what my 20 year old self would say to know that it only took 34 years, but I got my own TV show. We both got our great news the same week which would have seemed extremely unlikely several years ago. The same time he was waiting for a donor organ, I was battling breast cancer. In five years, everything has just gone from crap to yay! So, I’d say, you just can’t give up. You never know what’s going to happen. Now we are both doing our thang! You have to keep on keepin’ on!