Does Pat Kiernan even need an introduction? The NY1 anchor has been, as he puts it, waking New Yorkers up for twelve years. Today, however, he's officially launching his Pat's Papers website, which will take his "In the Papers" segment from NY1 and branch it out to cover national news as well. He recently told us about his daily routine, drinking champagne with Martin Short, and his dream job of hosting Jeopardy. Watch your back Trebek!
How early do you wake up, and what's your day-to-day like? I had settled on 3:17 am for years - but with the Pat’s Papers site online I’ve had to adjust that in the wrong direction. It’s closer to 2:30 these days. I get up earlier to get a head start on reading headlines and to get a jump on my NY1 duties. I’m in the door at NY1 just after 4 a.m. and then we’re on TV at 5 a.m.
Do you get approached a lot by fans around the city? What do they have to say? A dozen years of waking people up makes me pretty recognizable. A woman ran up to me in the subway on Thursday waving her copy of the New York Post. She said “you were so right about that story!” (She was referring to my comment that it was tough to tell how good the $595 jeans looked on the model without knowing how the model looked in $50 jeans.) People are very favorable about what we do at NY1 and a lot of them say they like “In the Papers.” That type of feedback is really what convinced me to get the patspapers.com website going.
What's your process for going through all the national papers now for Pat's Papers? I hired two freelancers based in Europe to start me off each day. The idea about Europe was to play the time zones to my advantage instead of asking someone in New York to wake up at 2 am. They dig through online versions of the papers and come up with a list of possible items. I handle the New York papers and all of the national papers. My producer in New York gives me another list of possible items from middle and small market papers. She pulls in some of the Western papers which aren’t typically available until after 6 am. We’re not reading every page of every paper - but we have a pretty solid list of potential links lined up by about 8 am.
How do you pick the headlines for each day? I keep coming up with words like “important” and “interesting” when I try to explain the process concisely. I try to include the big stories of the morning, but it’s just as important to provide some perspective on how those stories were covered. Did it play on the front page? What are the columnists saying? After covering the big stuff I try to tackle “interesting.” I want people to be surprised each day and feel like we found stuff they wouldn’t have found themselves.
Do you have a specific order in which go through the papers? That’s mostly dictated by what’s online first or what’s on my desk first. I vastly prefer print versions to the online experience.
What websites do you have bookmarked/are a daily must-read? My web surfing is very news driven. If I’m getting away from the major US news sites I’m most likely to seek out the latest Canadian perspective from globeandmail.com or canoe.ca.
In your opinion, what have been some of the most interesting New York stories so far this year? I guess “financial crisis” is the catch-all description. But that’s everything from the impact on Wall Street to the debut of the Obama administration to the mess that Governor Paterson finds himself in.
Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. It’s not particularly “strange” - but I think the most unexpected “only in New York” turn in my career happened the day producer Michael Davies got in touch in 2004 to find out whether I wanted to be a game show host. He’s been a big fan of my work at NY1 and has put me to work on three different shows, including “World Series of Pop Culture.” It’s not a career twist I would have expected but I’ve had great fun with it.
Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? I have a particular beef about on-street parking. In such a congested city I don’t understand why we just give away (or almost give away) a lane on each side of every street.
Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York? When Alex Trebek decides to retire and someone calls me to take the Jeopardy job. (Actually, I understand they tape a year’s worth of Jeopardy episodes in 40 days. So in the ideal version of the fantasy I stay here and just fly out to LA for a few days at a time.)
Do you have a favorite New York celebrity sighting or encounter? Not a chance encounter by any means, but Martin Short had a nightly bit in his 2006 Broadway show where he “discovered” a celebrity in the audience and dragged the person up on stage for a funny interview. After the show we were invited backstage to meet Marty. Cynically, I was expecting that to be a 30 second handshake. Instead, he poured us champagne and we chatted for about half an hour.
Did you know that Paul Rudd temporarily named his fantasy football team "The Pat Kiernans"? I did know that. Love it. I get particularly joy out of the fact that it’s subtle and probably goes over the head of someone who isn’t a viewer of NY1 or the World Series of Pop Culture.
What's your current soundtrack? We love watching American Idol with the kids because it’s about as close as you’ll get on TV these days to “family” viewing. So I probably have a disproportionate number of Idol renditions in my head these days.
Better headlines: NY Post or Daily News? I think the Post puts more emphasis on it overall - but they both have moments of brilliance. This is a great newspaper town.
Best cheap eat in the city. The last price increase was a little out of step with tradition, but the Recession Special for two hot dogs and a drink at Gray’s Papaya is still a good bargain.