Serious (yet Sassy!) Journalist
Loves Salsa and Life's Adventures
Danielle was born in New York City on November 4, 1966. "I'm a Scorpio, so I guess I'm crazy!" She says people always ask what it was like growing up with no parks and no place to play.
Her answer comes easy: "My back yard was Central Park. It doesn't get much better than that." She was raised as an only child, but both of her parents were remarried, giving her four half-siblings.
Danielle Serino with grandfather at Jones Beach in NY
"My happiest times - me and grandpa Serino at Jones Beach"
Broadcasting was not always in her plans. She thought she would go into advertising because her family was in advertising. She went to Northwestern for advertising. Did her internships in advertising and then on the first day on the job, (working for a different company, not the family company) she realized she made a huge mistake. Advertising was not for her.
"I didn't want to be a quitter, so I stuck with it for 5 years until I finally said, that's it. I don't care what I have to do...I'm not doing this anymore. I just hated it. I didn't like the energy and there was a lot of math involved and I can't add."
Danielle Serino - high school jock
She went back to school to New York University. She did not know what she wanted to do so she took a lot of classes. She considered being a lawyer or maybe going into Public Relations. She took a print journalism class ("Where we were on manual typewriters!") and she "fell in love and knew this was going to be it."
She first started as a field producer of a show called "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" which she describes as "Awesome!" She got to ride around with the vice squad in Newark, New Jersey answering 911 calls at 3:00 in the morning.
After that, she went a more traditional route and began writing for a 24 hour news outlet called News 12 Long Island. She worked there for 6 months or so on an over night shift ("for $5.00 an hour!")
Danielle Serino with her BFF Tina, friends since age 10
One day they asked her if she wanted to go conduct an interview. The band Traffic with Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi was performing in the area.
Her first thought was she didn't want to give up her holiday and then it dawned on her "What are you a moron? This is your opportunity!" So she went to the interview, but instead of just doing the interview, she put together a whole piece. She shot all the video, wrote it and, with the help of an editor, put it all together.
She took the finished piece to her boss who made a few changes and put it on the air. "I kind of segued into becoming the Entertainment Reporter there."
Danielle Serino - "80's chick"
In addition to her interview with Traffic, Danielle also interviewed her personal favorite, Alec Baldwin. "I thought he was so beautiful and I was so shy." She also interviewed All My Children's Susan Lucci, Van Halen and many others.
The station then started a Yonkers bureau. They hired her to be the breaking news reporter again doing the crime stories. She was happy to go back to the excitement of crime stories.
"I got bored with entertainment after awhile. It was kind of the same formula for every story. You were dealing with celebrities and some of them had large egos. You couldn't really get to the meat of the story. There were questions they wouldn't let you ask. It was exciting because it was my first time on television, but it got old."
Danielle Serino with dad, Anthony
She really enjoyed "playing detective" and being at the crime scenes. She had contact with the police stations as well as the suspects and victims. "I am always grateful to News 12 [Yonkers] for giving me my first opportunity". She was there for about 3 and a half years.
She remembers talking to a friend on the phone and nonchalantly telling her that she was on her way to a triple homicide. She had learned to take the emotion out of crime scenes and dead bodies as a means of coping.
Barry Diller, founder of Fox Broadcasting Company, chairman of Paramount and Chairman of QVC shopping network, decided he was going to start a new network in Miami. It was to be a 24 hour news station. One of the hour long news shows was called "The Times."
Danielle Serino studio shot
Danielle was hired to work on the show which she describes as "A combination of The Daily Show and Dateline. It was very edgy, fun and irreverent but we did long format investigative pieces as well."
She covered a lot of social issues for "The Times" such as poverty, gay and lesbian issues and politics. It was a great experience for her. "We had all new equipment. The people were so bright and so talented and we had the liberty of taking as long as we needed to do a piece. It was just great". She stayed in Miami for two and a half years.
Danielle received a call from Fox in Chicago offering her a job as Consumer Reporter. Once again, her first thought was not a positive one. As a New Yorker she was not keen on going to Chicago.
Also, she didn't want to go there and as a Consumer Reporter "be testing out panty hose and nail polish." But she recognized it as a good career move and accepted the job.
Danielle Serino with dear Chicago friend Lisa
When she got there she "absolutely adored the city and the job was fabulous!" One of the things she was most pleased with was the latitude she had in her franchise segments. For example, she had a segment called "Danielle's Doghouse" where she went after unscrupulous business.
Other franchises were "Does It Work Danielle?" where she tested products, "Gotta Have It Gadgets" where she examined new technology and "Local and Loving It" featuring new companies and businesses to the area.
In addition to all of this, Danielle was able to do a lot of fill-in anchoring in Chicago. She liked the anchoring and decided she wanted to do more of it, but there were no opportunities for her in Chicago. So she decided it was time to move on and took a job in Cleveland at WOIO as weekend anchor. "So I wasn't just a fill-in any more - I was an anchor".
Danielle Serino with her Mom, Paula
Danielle thinks each of the cities she worked with offered her unique and exciting experiences and offerings. "Chicago was more manageable and livable than New York and cheaper. What I absolutely love about here are the people. These are the nicest people I have ever met."
She recalls telling people in Chicago that she was from New York and the reaction was never positive. They always asked her to choose between Chicago and New York. She says that in Cleveland when she says she's from New York, or that she just came from Chicago, people offer to buy her a drink. "Everybody everywhere I went was like that. They have been the kindest most welcoming people anywhere."
Danielle Serino's cats, Tabatha and Theodore
Danielle is single and says she will "be dying with my two cats, Tabatha and Theodore."
Danielle is also quite a traveler, and not afraid of a challenge. "The most challenging trip was probably backpacking through the Mideast. I went by myself, like a crazy person."
Her original plan was to stay in a kibbutz with a girlfriend but her friend's family pulled her out at the last minute because they were concerned about her safety. Danielle's parents encouraged her to go. Instead of just staying in Israel she traveled to Jordan and Egypt ("where I got dysentery").
Danille Serino in Egypt getting close with a camel
At that point of her life Danielle was not in journalism so she didn't write about any of her adventures. Although she loves traveling in general, she was not a big fan of this particular trip, so she doubts she will re-trace her steps and write about it.
Danielle Serino rappelling down
a waterfall in Santa Lucia
She's been on numerous other trips that she really liked, including rappelling down a waterfall in Santa Lucia.
Her favorite place to go is Mexico and she has been to many different parts of that country. She loves the people, the food, the weather and the prices. Easily her favorite part, however, is that she gets to Salsa Dance.
Danielle Serino and her passion - Salsa Dancing
Salsa Dancing is Danielle's passion. Her first experience was when somebody in Chicago took her to a nightclub where they did Salsa Dancing. As soon as she walked in she knew this was for her.
"This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen and I have to learn to do this. And I became obsessed. I took private lessons for five years. I was out dancing four nights a week. I was insane."
She says she's good, but "not as good as I should be for five years". She just recently joined a dance troupe at Viva Dance. It is a Performance Troupe, even though she says she is not ready to perform. It gives her the opportunity to keep dancing a significant amount of time. The Troupe practices about 4-6 hours a week.
Watch a short (1:16) video of Danielle Serino salsa dancing
Danielle works hard at her weight and physical health. "I'm an eater. I'm Italian. If I could be 300 pounds and stay home watching Jerry Springer re-runs I would be happy."
Of course, the job she's in forces her to watch her weight. She says she has put on weight since she got here because she hasn't been dancing, which is a very aerobic workout. That was another reason for joining the dance troupe.
Danielle Serino with her beloved grandmother in 2001
Being raised Italian has a lot to do with Danielle's personality. "I'm loud, I'm outgoing. I love food. I love big family gatherings." She is very close to her family. She lived for her grandmother who passed away just last year. "She was nurturing and kind and loving and fed me and I could do no wrong."
Danielle Serino with her Grandmother
Her mother is the woman she thinks taught her the most. "She is one of the strongest women I know, but with a heart of gold. I mean, she'll kill you, if she has too. She overcame a lot. She got married at 17, had me when she was 20, divorced 2 years later.
She had a high school education...But she managed to do whatever she had to do to make sure I went to good schools and I was watched out for." Her mother is now remarried and owns her own business.
Danielle Serino with stepdad Marc
Danielle is involved in Esperanza (Hope) a non profit organization that gives scholarships and job training to children, primarily Latino. She believes her responsibility extends past her time on the air, but she says, "My whole philosophy is that everybody has a responsibility to give back to the community in which they live no matter what they do."
She thinks she has an added responsibility because so many people support her by tuning into her television station. She considers it her role to give something back to them in gratitude for what they do.
Danielle Serino with stepbrother Seth
She also says, "There are a lot of young women who look up to other women who are in television and I think it is incumbent on us to share. And also just being somebody who has been able to achieve a lot and been successful. You owe it to other people to help them and give them the hope and inspiration that they may need." Danielle is responsive to requests from charitable organizations requesting her help in hosting events.
She likes to think in addition to being a serious journalist, she can make people laugh and have fun. It is important to her to be real and not phony - telling a story like it is.
Being on Channel 19 is different then most other news stations. It has a reputation for "in your face" news interspersed with commentary. She loves that about the station and asks critics to consider how people talk about the news and events to each other and in their own homes.
"It may not be correct journalism with a capital "J"... but we're being populist. We're being real. We're calling it like it is. Definitely sometimes we push the envelope and I've had my cringe moments but we're doing what everybody else out there is saying, doing, thinking in private. Some people don't like it. Some people don't want an opinion. There are other avenues for them to turn to. We're an alternative."
Danielle Serino at WOIO in Cleveland
She credits the station as having the nicest people to work with and an awesome newsroom. She also stresses the extraordinary talent of the people she works with.
When she came from Chicago, a lot of people expected her to be the "big fish in a little pond" but she quickly points out that is not the case. She says she learns something from her coworkers every day.
The newsroom takes on a completely different character during commercial breaks. When the cameras are off for those few minutes chaos runs rampant. "I have to be very careful because I curse like a sailor". Sometimes she forgets that they are simultaneously broadcasting live on the web and has been reminded more than once that web viewers don't have commercial breaks.
Danielle sees the internet eroding the viewing audience because people, especially young people, are getting their news on the internet or their phones. "That's why we are trying to create a bigger web presence. We push that website every chance we get."
Danielle takes her job very seriously and cares deeply about the stories she reports on. Recently she reported a story on mechanics and was lambasted by mechanics from all over accusing her of slanting the story and corrupting the results.
She says she is so meticulous in her research, takes such a pride in ownership and so concerned about her reputation and the quality of her work that she would not put a piece on the air that she doesn't stand behind.
Throughout the week, Danielle often works from 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on her investigative reports. "People don't realize that for every minute you see on the air there is a minimum of an hours worth of shooting - just shooting. I'm not talking editing. I'm not talking researching. I'm not talking writing. Just video shooting. There's a tremendous amount of labor that goes into these stories."
Although Danielle loves Cleveland, she misses her home and family. She says if her family lived here in Cleveland, she would never leave. Although she hates cold weather, she was born and raised in it, so it is nothing new to her.
Danielle Serino with Mom, stepdad Marc and brother Seth at Seth's engagement party
Danielle always looks polished and well dressed on the air. Surprisingly she says she is a tom-boy and not the least bit interested in fashion.
"I hate make up. I hate doing my hair. I'm telling you this is a struggle and goes so against who I am in reality. I'm a jeans and t-shirt rolling around in the mud kinda person. I am constantly spilling stuff on myself."
She says a lot of work goes into the final product of the person we see on the air. Her hair and clothes always took a back seat to her work.
She's an avid sports fan - scuba diving, water skiing, mountain biking - any physical activity. She plans on jumping out of an airplane soon.
Danielle was in Chicago on 9-11 which she says was an awful day for most Americans, but for a New Yorker it was horrendous. "I still can't talk about it without welling up, without getting chills." She says it is still too painful for her to even see the movies or documentaries because it breaks her heart.
It is this same type of sensitivity that results in Danielle being hurt when people call in and tell her she looks bad, she's fat, or she did a bad job, or even that they don't like her hair. She is, in her words, "thin-skinned".
Danielle Serino with stepbrother's fiance Molly
She doesn't think people realize how much that hurts, but it does. Conversely, her day is made when someone says something positive or encouraging. She takes it all, positive and negative, to heart.
In describing herself Danielle says, "I'm just a big goof ball. I don't take myself too seriously."
In reality however, she is a force to be reckoned with and definitely someone to take seriously. She is a creative, hardworking, ethical journalist who takes pride in her work. She has contagious electricity around her that makes everyone stand up and pay attention.
When the time is right, she is also fun-loving and ready to Salsa. She takes her fun as seriously as her work and is willing to take some risks in both.
Whether she is investigating corruption or rappelling down a waterfall, Danielle Serino has her eye on the goal and nothing will keep her from reaching it.
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