Pat Kiernan

No. 1 (and NY1) news anchor

In the tenth-anniversary issue, TONY featured you as one of our new New York icons, and now you’re one of our 40 New York heroes. How does that feel?
Pat Kiernan: It’s a great honor. The fact that I’ve been in my job for eleven years now…you get to the point that people think, since you’re there every morning, that you’ve always been there and you always will be there.

I wake up and immediately turn on NY1 in the morning, and it seems like it’s that way for a lot of people. You have a cult following—a lot of people really love you.
Pat Kiernan: Yeah, or hate me. [Laughs] It’s a program that’s well suited to New Yorkers. You get what you want—a little bit lighthearted but not overly lighthearted. We get you out of the dark. I think we definitely attract a devoted following. What I’ve always been impressed with is in the last five years, we seem to be holding our own against the online news trend. People in the mornings want to get the sense that somebody’s been working overnight to figure out what it is they ought to know.

You seem very prepared for the “In the Papers” segment—like you actually read the newspapers before going on air. How do you do it?
Pat Kiernan: [Laughs] I’m glad it seems like that! I love doing that segment—that’s my baby. I’m in a little bit of a tug-of-war with our producers over them not loading me up too heavily in the time leading up to that segment, so I actually have time to read the papers. The more live stuff they have me doing in a particular half hour, the less time I have to read the newspapers. And we have trouble getting our hands on the newspapers before about 5am. So I try to carve out, between 4am and 7am, a good hour to read the papers.

I saw the video of you and Roger Clark singing “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley on YouTube.
Pat Kiernan: People don’t understand my relationship with Roger—there are some people who think that I must hate Roger. We just have sort of a straight man–funny man relationship.

I’ve heard people compare it to Laurel and Hardy.
Pat Kiernan: We have fun. Roger’s a great, versatile reporter; if we get into a breaking-news situation, you have a feeling that even though he doesn’t present himself as the most polished, standard, off-the-rack newscaster in New York, you know that he knows his stuff, and that he’s gong to give you solid reporting from a serious news story. But at the same time, he changes gears entirely and takes us into something that’s fun and New York–y.

Do you ever get hit on?
Pat Kiernan: It’s fairly well documented that I’m married with two kids! Less of that and more the friendly, “I enjoy the show, I watch it every morning.”

So now, the real questions: Who are your favorite New Yorkers?
Pat Kiernan: Marty Markowitz is a creative and relentless supporter of his borough, though he’d probably prefer I called him my “favorite Brooklynite.” Gene Russianoff stands up for all of us as spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign. And Kelly Ripa—it was a brilliant decision to pair her with Regis [Philbin]. She appeals to all of America without betraying the program’s New York roots.

What has been the biggest thing to happen in New York in the past 13 years?
Pat Kiernan: Excluding onetime events such as September 11th, I think a great change for the city has been the dramatic decline in crime. So many good things follow: more tourism, parents raising kids in the city, better schools, a stronger economy.

What’s your favorite place or thing in New York City?
Pat Kiernan: The Staten Island Ferry. Relaxing, a fantastic view and free.

What’s your personal favorite New York moment? Where were you, and what was happening?
Pat Kiernan: [Seeing] The Sound of Music in Bryant Park, summer 1996. That was the year we moved to New York. A fantastic memory of singing “Do-Re-Mi” out loud with about 10,000 people jammed onto the lawn on a perfect summer night.

What’s the future of New York? What are your hopes, and what needs to happen?
Pat Kiernan: Whatever your opinion on the congestion-pricing traffic tax, the mayor is right about the fact that traffic is going to become a crisis in New York at some point soon.

If you could have a drink with anyone else on this Top 40 list, whom would it be?
Pat Kiernan: I’ve interviewed Mayor Bloomberg, but it’s always in a very formal setting, with PR handlers around, and someone watching the clock before he rushes off to do something else. It would be nice to have the mayor show up alone for a drink, with no one looking to see what time it is or what was next.

What does Time Out mean to you?
Pat Kiernan: The weekly entertainment listings are the star attraction. But the most memorable content is often the stories up front—despite being published so widely, they still maintain the hipness of a tip whispered to you by a friend.

Complete this sentence: New York is…
Pat Kiernan: …a place of opportunity!

Next: Spider-Man >

The New York 40:

Adam Rapp
Amy Sedaris
Anderson Cooper
Basil Twist
Christine Quinn
Christopher Wheeldon
Danny Meyer
David Cross
David Remnick
Derek Jeter
Dick Zigun
Elizabeth LeCompte
Elizabeth Marvel
Eliot Spitzer
Gavin Brown
James Murphy
Joe Torre
John Zorn
Jonathan Lethem
Junot Díaz
Kelly Reichardt
Kiki & Herb
Liev Schreiber
Lisa Phillips
Michael Bloomberg
Nellie McKay
Pat Kiernan
Patti LuPone
Peter Gelb
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Richard Serra
Sarah Michelson
Stephen Colbert
Tim Gunn
Tina Fey
Tony Kushner
Upright Citizens Brigade