Karen Drew WDIV Interview – Interview with Karen Drew about her exciting career, parenting, juggling work with being an Oakland County mom, and more! This is the first in a series of interviews I will be conducting of local celebrities. I’ve known Karen for a few years from doing the Moms in the D panel on WDIV and have enjoyed our professional relationship. She’s the “real deal.” As someone who has never lived out of state, I naturally enjoy speaking to people that have moved around quite a bit to find out what they like about Michigan living. I sat down with her over some coffee to find out what it’s like to be ‘Karen Drew.’
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What was your first job in this industry?
Karen Drew WDIV – My first job in the industry was at a station in Dickinson, North Dakota. We were on the corner of North Dakota and Montana. I was hired to be a reporter/photographer, and there were three people in the news room… that was it. And, I didn’t really know how to be a photographer. I knew I learned in school… I was 20 when I got my first job because I graduated early, so I remember bringing my text book with me to sites so when I would go on a story I’d look up – Ok, so turn this on, and this on… I was a horrible photographer. I remember they sent me to sports games, like football games. You know how they do those tricky passes and I’d follow the wrong person, my highlights were horrible, and so they were saying…let’s stop you shooting because I was really bad. And, then somebody moved and I became an anchor. And, then three months later they shut the whole operation down. At 20 years old, I learned how to lose a job, how to regroup, and also to always be ready. At that point, I said…I’m always going to have a resume, I’m always going to have contacts, I’m always going to have a plan to protect myself.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – How do you like working/living here rather than your home town?
Karen Drew WDIV – Well, you know what… I feel like it’s home. When I say that, I’ve been here 17 years. I grew up in Chicago for 18 years. I moved to college and then from there I went on my career. I’ve spent just as much time here as I have in Chicago. But, I’ll tell you, I never thought this was going to be my home. I always dreamt that I’m either going to Chicago or I’m going to New York. And, then you know how life happens. I came here and then life happens. You find a husband and you have kids and I really did fall in love with Michigan. I love working Downtown. I love the energy. If the station wasn’t Downtown I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. I feel that we’re, especially right now, on the cutting edge of so many things….whether it’s business, or culture, or entertainment. And, I love that you just drive a few miles north and you’re in these beautiful suburbs and lakes and so many great family activities, and then go a little more up north and you’re up north…vacation. I feel this state has a ton to offer, all within three hours.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Do you miss Chicago?
Karen Drew WDIV – I’m a Chicago Cubs fan so I always like to go to Chicago Cubs games. I have my girlfriends which actually is perfect because we always have a girls weekend and I’m always saying… I’ll come to Chicago! I can’t imagine anyone saying they don’t like it! That is also a great example of a great city with lots of energy. And, media-wise, it’s a great media town. Do I miss it? No, not necessarily. I moved my mom here. My mom lives two miles away from my house. She has play dates with my girls every week and comes over for dinner. My brother married a girl in Ohio, so he lives three hours away. My father passed away… so we really have moved to Michigan. Besides girlfriends, I really don’t have a reason to go back. I go back for fun, but I don’t even miss it! I miss going there for fun, but this is home.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – How is MI different from your home town?
Karen Drew WDIV – When you ask me that question, I feel like I’ve had all different home towns. At 18 I left. And, I lived in Alabama. I lived in Tennessee, I lived in Florida, and I lived in Montgomery and then I went to North Dakota… I mean at age 27, I came here at 27 and this was 6th job. So, when you say home town, yes my home town is Chicago, but as a child I didn’t necessarily live in the city. So, it’s kind of two-fold in my answer… I feel Michigan has a great sense of family, but maybe that’s because I know Michigan as a family person. I love what it has to offer in terms of the skiing, the fishing, the boating… I feel it’s a very outdoors state and I’m a very outdoors person. This state is a vacation destination… When I compare it to all my other different places, I mean I love everywhere I lived because it was an experience and I got to learn about the South and living there… but nothing ever felt like home. And, this has felt like home.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – So you’re happy you’re raising your kids here rather than any of the other towns you’ve lived in?
Karen Drew WDIV – Oh, yeah. For sure. We have an extended family so we have tons of cousins, we have family here and, even though I’m not a huge fan of winter, I like that they’re experiencing it all. So, I have a dream that someday I’m going to have this house by the ocean, who knows if it’ll ever happen, but I’m happy they’re seeing a lot in this state.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – How do you manage family life with this crazy schedule?
Karen Drew WDIV – It’s crazy. I’m a planner, and a planner of a planner. I plan so much. My strength is my planning, and my weakness is my planning, because I over-plan. For, example, yesterday I worked nights…so I was up at 6am, I went to the gym, I had a class at 7, then I had to take the girls to get passports so we’re at the post office for two hours, then we went to gymnastics, and then I had to get ready for work so I dropped them off so they could have lunch with their grandma, and then I hurried up and got ready and worked my ten hours – did the newscast at 4, then jumped in the car, was live in Flint at 9. And, I then came back this morning and this morning was on my treadmill, I had a painter come to my house because he’s helping me with my kitchen, and the girls just left again for another little gymnastics thing. But, I think you can only do all that if you’re a planner. Also, I have so much help. I have family… and we do have an au pair that lives with us. I need that because my husband sometimes travels. Sometimes I do the morning show and I have to get up in the morning and leave at 3am. Who’s going to watch my kids on the spur of the moment? So that’s a constant…Nothing against babysitters, but I said if I could get a home environment it’ll be good because it seems like they flourish and they have a lot of one-on-one attention when I am at work. But, I live for my vacation days. I get a lot of vacation time. So, I can take the day off when it’s mom and daughter tea, or I volunteer at their school party, I’ve been there for Christmas plays. So, I get the calendar a year ahead of time and I pick my days. It’s planning. And, I have a great husband.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – With the recent changes in your position, are you in your dream role?
Karen Drew WDIV – You know, I am. I am. I’m really happy. People have even commented …. something’s different, you seem so happy. And, I am. I feel blessed in so many ways. I’ve got that evening anchor slot that I’ve always wanted to have, I still have the ability to do my special reports because I don’t want to be just an anchor behind the desk. I love being outside. Like my story on Thursday, I get to go up with the Michigan state police in their $5 million chopper and we go chase the bad guys… so how can I pass that up? I love the fact that I can report, I love the fact that I’m anchoring, and I’m just really, really happy. I feel like I finally found a very good work-life balance. I’ve allowed some time for me. It’s the first time I’ve done it. Madison is six, and this fall I said it’s ok if I have some time for me. I’m a runner and I wasn’t running. I wasn’t doing anything for me. I was feeling guilty because I’m a working mom. How can I work and then go do something for me? Now, I’ve altered it. I get up really early. But, the fact is I’m spending some time on me. I’ve lost some weight. I’m exercising. I’m doing some yoga. And, I’m just feeling really good. I’m sleeping really good. I’m giving so much more back to my family just because I gave myself 40 minutes. It was a life-changing lesson. And, I’m teaching my kids some healthy habits.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – Now that you have your own kids, is it difficult to cover a story that involves a troubling scenario with children? Do you find yourself getting more emotionally involved in your work?
Karen Drew WDIV – Yeah. Sometimes, and I don’t even want to get into an example of a story because it’s so disgusting. But, yeah, there have been some stories that are so disgusting I can’t even get through the script. Of course you envision your own child. It’s the first thing you do. You’re a mom. And, so you just get disgusted, your heart beats, your stomach churns… but then you think, I have to tell this story because people need to know that this person is out there. And, all of these things that are happening to kids these days, especially with social media, the availability of the internet, and the things they’re seeing that you have no idea they’re seeing… we have to tell that story. So, it’s horrible, but if I don’t tell it to you, you may not be researching on the computer, you may not know it’s going on.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – How does it affect your parenting style?
Karen Drew WDIV – I’ve been accused of being a helicopter mom. My husband accuses me of that. When we’re at a playground, I’m always near them. I don’t ever let them out of my sight. I’m doing better now on play dates. Before, I wouldn’t even do play dates, which is bad. I might know the mom, but I don’t know the dad. Or, what if there’s an older brother there? I’m also learning… you get to know families. So I think that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been taking the time to know the mom, to know the dad, to have them over for dinner, with their kids… and then let’s go to your house some time. I don’t think any mother is ever upset when another mother says, “You know what, I’m a little nervous. Not about you individually, but I’m just nervous.” I don’t know what the right answer is. You want to give them freedom, but I’m not going to give them freedom at the risk of their safety.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What is something you love to do that many don’t know about you?
Karen Drew WDIV – Dance parties at my house. We put music on the TV. And you can jump on the couch, you can jump on the tables. It can’t be the little tables because they’ll fall over, but the big tables. And, it’s just go crazy and it’s loud as it can be! It’s when dad’s gone because he gets irritated. Friday night dance parties are my favorite, favorite thing. And, then also one of my favorite things with them is Sunday morning reading the paper on my driveway and doing chalk. It’s really peaceful. I’m reading the paper and I feel like that’s a good example. I’m teaching them I’m learning about the world. And, they do chalk. Anything I can do outside. That’s my family stuff.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What is your guilty pleasure… something you’re almost embarrassed to admit?
Karen Drew WDIV – I’m a total cheesy 80’s fan. I love Wham! Totally love Wham! and George Michael. I know all the songs to Ice Ice Baby/Vanilla Ice. I can do the running man very well, the dance moves…yeah that 80’s dance thing somehow just got in me. So, in our dance parties, I’m exhibiting 80’s moves. I feel bad because when my children go to school, they’re going to have some bad moves, I’m not teaching them anything cool.
Lisa LaGrou Oakland County Moms – What does a typical “day off” look like for you? Is it all about spending time with the kids in pj’s all day? Or, does your busy nature have you going non-stop all the time?
Karen Drew WDIV – I do a combo. I have a crazy day, and a pj day. Saturdays seem to be that day where we run around… it might be birthday parties or something, and I always like to find something fun, especially learning about Detroit…Winter Blast, or a hands-on museum. This Friday we’re doing that indoor adventure land in Detroit. I haven’t been there yet, but you learn about the outdoors, Michigan and what it has to offer. So, we’re going to do a day in the D, and find a fun place for lunch, then hopefully the DIA because my girl loves art. So, we’ll do a day like that and then my husband will look at me and he says you need to let these kids have a break. I do too much. I do. I think part of that is guilt because I’m working, and I don’t want to be off and just sit around the house, but I have learned, that sometimes they want to sit around the house. Sometimes they just want to be in their pajamas and they want to color, or they want to do play-doh, or play with the kinetic sand. Now, I’m learning to be ok with that. We don’t have to hang from a trampoline to make it a good day. So, I do a day where I want to show them some things, and then one day we’ll go to church and then do pajamas and we do movies and popcorn…I think it’s a good balance. But, for me to relax, it’s hard! I’m very good on vacation relaxing because I’ve removed myself from the situation. My husband kiddingly used to call me “Ruining Sundays.” He’d say, “And, here’s Ruining Sundays!” He’d be trying to relax and I’d say “Let’s go through our clothes and organize them, and donate them, let’s do this…” And, he’s thinking let’s just not plan anything. He helps me. I need that. And, Hank Winchester, my friend at work, he’s also the Godfather of one of my children – he’s one of my best friends in the world. I’ll sometimes send him pictures of us doing stuff and he’ll respond “Very cute, but give them a break.” He’s saying, my poor Goddaughter must be exhausted.
See related posts below for more Oakland County Moms celebrity interviews.
Check out ClickOnDetroit.com to learn more about Karen Drew WDIV.