Gothamist had the chance to sit down with veteran news anchor Rosanna Scotto of Fox 5. Scotto, a Brooklyn native, began her television career with WTBS in Atlanta in 1980 and returned home to work for WABC-TV in 1982. She moved to channel 5 in 1986 as a reporter and weekend anchor, moving up to the weekday anchor chair in 1994. We felt that since the Ten O’clock News on channel 5 will be celebrating its 40th anniversary on Tuesday, that it would be good to speak with someone there who has been there for a little over half that time.

Unlike a lot of the talent in this market you are from Brooklyn. Do you feel that gives you a better perspective on things here?
I always talk about Brooklyn a lot to the point that everybody says you are so obnoxious about it. You know, stop bringing it up every five minutes. But I really think that coming from Brooklyn gives you a unique perspective on life and you know I consider myself a typical Brooklynite. I have said before I have a vested interest in what happens in our area because I grew up here, went to school here, am raising my children here. I am not going anywhere. This is where my roots are and I feel like Brooklyn really, it’s like everyman. You’ll find a cross of so many different people and nationalities and religions. It kind of opens your eyes up to so many different things.

I love Brooklyn. I think it is a great place to live.

And now the inevitable New York question – Mets or Yankees?
You know, this kind of puts me in a bad situation because I am friendly with people from both teams. In my house, obviously, it is pretty much a Yankee household. But, I will tell you we socialize with people from the Mets as well as the Yankees. So I am right down the line.

Go New York, right?
Go New York. When they are playing one another, I say nothing. When they each have a game against another team from out of town. I will root for the home team all the way. I will not take sides with the Yankees or the Mets.

You have been with Fox 5 for almost half of the run of the ten o’clock news. How have you noticed things evolve since you started there and has the network as it has risen in prominence with the Fox News Channel influenced the coverage of things?
I got here just as Metromedia became Fox and Rupert Murdoch came in. It changed dramatically over the years. The Fox 5 News was a real gritty newscast. All they really cared about were the facts. That was it. We didn’t have to walk. We didn’t have to talk. We didn’t have to worry about how our hair was. There were nights I went on with out make up. Now that would be like a mortal sin. Now, we are still concerned about the facts, getting it right, breaking news, but there is also a little bit of glitz and glamour to our newscast and we are very competitive with the networks. When I started here it was more like this scrappy news team that got major stories on every night, but it wasn’t like we really had any competition at ten o’clock. We were up against programming, but there was no other competition besides that.

I remember back in 1989 channel 9 had this promo, saying don’t watch the news you watch out of habit. I think a lot of people got used to it. It changed a lot of things, too.
It changed a lot of things, but we are not resting on our laurels.
I don’t think people watch the ten o’clock news out of habit. People tell me they like to watch the ten o’clock news. We give them an hours worth of news. Local, we really cover the tri-state area well and we give them national and international news.

International and national news, that is where the Fox News Channel comes in and helps us. Because, lets face it, we don’t have the resources to have somebody in Afghanistan or Iraq or wherever and that is where they help us out a lot.

You have been both a reporter and an anchor. Do you prefer one role over the other or do you like them both?
Well, let me just say I am very comfortable in the seat right now. Do I want to go out and chase every trash fire that I did years ago? No, but I still keep my hand in the news mix. This summer I had a big story, the Christie Brinkley other woman. I had the other woman. Did I ever think that we would make national wires, papers and magazines and news shows? I mean everybody was interested in the other woman in the Christie Brinkley story. I still get a kick out of doing those news stories. I do.

I go out; I do a lot of 9-11 stories. I don’t miss the everyday wear and tear, knocking on doors and scrounging around for a news story. Don’t miss it at all, but I like having my hand in it when it is a big story. Being there first, breaking news, that kind of thing.

Over the years you must have a favorite story or two that you covered. . .
Well obviously the 9-11 story is not a favorite story, but it is something that obviously changed our lives forever. That whole day when the buildings came down, we were on the news 24/7 and the day after, John Roland and I went down to Ground Zero and we reported from down there for the whole day. Having a front seat to history is unbelievable. That particular story, you almost didn’t want to focus on because it was so horrible. I will never forget seeing the sights down there and talking to the people concerned about their loved ones who might be in those buildings or just missing people. It was a time I will never forget.

And you know, listen, I live here. My family is here. I was concerned about my children, my husband worked across the street from the World Trade Center. He had parked his car by the Trade Center that day and lucky for him he had a police officer tell him he couldn’t get his car and he should start walking home. Because shortly after the buildings came down he would probably not have made it out.
So that obviously is a story that is forever etched in my memory.

Since then, talking to some of the families who are putting the pieces back together of their lives. How they are coping without fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. I just have such admiration for these families how they have gotten themselves back up and tried to continue living life. They are really a great example of how to survive.

On a lighter note, you were parodied on Saturday Night Live a few years back. How did you feel about that?
Well it was funny. I was watching Saturday Night Live with my husband one night and they had this girl doing the news and I said to my husband, “I think that’s me!” And he is like, “That is definitely you.” And I was like, “Wow. Wait a second why did they get that ugly girl to play me? Why wasn’t the prettier one playing me?”

And then another time they did a parody on Ernie, Nick and I. Do you remember the campaign where we were pointing? And there was one night where they did this news team and they were the channel five news team and they were like “Point like you mean it!” “Point like you’re not from channel seven!” And I was rolling and I wanted to call Ernie, it was twelve o’clock at night and I was like, “I better not call he might be sleeping.” You know, listen, it is a great compliment to be parodied.

Do you have any stories about John Roland and how is he doing?
John Roland is doing great. I see him regularly. He taught me so much about this business. There really is a different transition from street reporter to sitting behind the anchor desk every night and he really took me by the hand and told me not to read everybody’s copy cold every night. He would really dissect the copy with me afterwards. Why did you let that copy go? You should have changed it. You should have put it in words that you speak, not in writer speak or cop speak.

He really taught me so much about the business. He taught me about how to present myself and what a privilege it is to be in people’s homes and really not to take advantage of that. So, I learned a lot from John over the years and really appreciate what he has done for me. And like I said, he still weighs in every now and then.

Your family owns Fresco by Scotto. How involved are you with the restaurant and have you got some teasing here at Fox 5 because of the appearances on the Today Show?
Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Lots of teasing here. It is definitely two different hats and what is great about it is that I get to play with my family and do something totally fun. I think the business has changed over the years and I think that you’ll notice that with any big TV news person now, they are not just sitting behind the desk anymore. Barbara Walters besides breaking news, she has The View where she sits in and weighs in. Listen, I don’t give my opinion, except on garlic when I do the Today Show. So I am not really overstepping any lines, but it is great that people can see me in more than just one light, which is sitting behind a desk and reading some pretty heavy stories every night. They know that I have a family and that I like to have fun and I really like to cook. In fact, today I made a steak pizzaiola, broccoli rabe with tomatoes. My kids when they come home they like to smell the food in the house.