NDA Alumna Lives Life as Local Celebrity

Diego Mendoza, Staff Writer

As she walks down the cereal aisle, the strangers next to her wish her a good morning, addressing her by her first name. While paying her groceries, she notices the couple behind her eagerly glance at her and smile.

This scenario is nothing new for Katie Phernetton, CW-14 star and NDA Class of 2009, after she became a local TV celebrity earlier last year.

“Whenever I get recognized, it’s always at the worst possible time. I’ve just gotten out of bed and I quickly head to the grocery store to pick up some stuff,” Phernetton said. “I’m a little confused when they say, ‘Hey, you’re that one girl, you’re Katie!’ but I enjoy it because I realize I’m connecting with the community.”

As a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Phernetton also lives her life as the CW-14 star after she won the TV station’s competition in early spring of last year. Phernetton was voted in from a group of 50 candidates who were all in hope of becoming the station’s new anchor.

“CW was looking for somebody who could think on their feet, relate with people, and proudly represent the station,” Phernetton said in a talk with journalism students at her alma mater.. “You needed the community to vote for you by getting the people to see you were willing to stand out and be able to actively relate with them. Being experienced in the field was a plus.”

Phernetton is nothing short of experienced. From her early teens, she was an active volunteer for the annual Cerebral Palsy Center telethon. After the manager of Green Bay’s Channel 2 noticed her participation, he invited her to be the junior host for their Saturday evening program.

However, it wasn’t until high school that Phernetton said she realized her passion for broadcasting and communications. She was an active member of both the drama and yearbook club, and excelled in NDA’s public performance class, which focuses on  improving a student’s public speaking.

NDA English teacher and yearbook advisor Stefanie Jochman said Phernetton strived “to connect with her Tritons.”

English teacher Carolyn Brown was one of the many teachers who had Phernetton as a student.

“She was a talker, very vivacious, and outgoing; a personality just like mine!” Brown said while laughing. “She had very close relationships with other students and was recognized as one of the ‘good kids’ among the staff.”

Viewers agree that Phernetton’s most remarkable quality is “her ability to talk,” and ironically, talking is what Phernetton said motivated her to take a job in the broadcasting industry. Even those who recently met Phernetton, such as NDA freshman Rich Rehberg, noticed her passion for her job.

“She’s very direct and honest with both her stories, and questions that I asked her,” Rehberg said. “I see a lot of potential in Katie, and I hope she continues being this enthusiastic with her job.”

As relaxed and lively as Phernetton seems on camera, she lives a busy life compared to many of her college classmates. Phernetton juggles between classes and her job, giving her limited time for leisure. Finishing her fifth year of college, Phernetton said the added years were a sacrifice she had to make to become a more successful broadcaster and reporter.

“Managing classes and my job is tough,” Phernetton said. “My professors are all very supportive and encouraging though, and I’m working extra hard to finish my last year (of college)!”

Phernetton enjoys reporting on much of the  entertainment, sports, and festivities that take place in the community. She said CW gives her “a lot of freedom,” and chooses many of the stories she reports on.

She said previous memorable reports were North Appleton High School’s club for the physically and mentally challenged, interviewing the lead role for The Lion King, and using the ketchup slide in Seymour.

Phernetton said she hopes that after graduating, she can become a full-time anchor on a local TV station, and work herself up to be a reporter in one of the nation’s top 15 news stations. She gives much credit of her success to her high school experience.

“The core values at Notre Dame Academy really helped me to become who I am today. I know everybody really doesn’t pay attention to them while in high school, but after you graduate you realize the great meaning and significance of their value. They’ve helped become as successful as I am today.”

Katie’s Advice for Broadcasting

1. Find a program in your community for broadcasting and anchoring. Radio and TV stations look for people interested in the field and are excited for anybody interested to join.

2. Get involved at school. Connecting with people and getting to know everybody personally is essential for this field.

3. Practice public speaking. you need to have confidence to become successful as an anchor, reporter, or broadcaster.

4. Stay up to date and prepared for a report. knowing important current events and background information on a subject will make the report much less awkward.

5. Find your passion. As a new reporter, you should experiment in different topics until you find an area that you feel comfortable, and excited in. Remember to challenge yourself!