HOTSEAT- Full throttle: Ferrari shifts gears

Lisa Ferrari

If you've been a reporter in town the past three years, then you've been scooped by Lisa Ferrari. That's how long she's been here, and even changing careers from radio to TV hasn't slowed her tenacious journalism.

Ferrari was on the scene when WCAV and the Newsplex went on the air in late 2004– and is now a veteran at what is still called the "new" station.

"I always wanted to be a TV reporter," she says. "I knew my career would be in journalism."

Radio came calling first after she graduated from Boston College and finished her master's degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College. She did radio news in her home state of Massachusetts but moved to New York to launch a 24-hour syndicated talk show.

An even bigger leap was to come to Charlottesville mid-career to become a TV reporter in a small market specializing in young, low-paid reporters.

"I thought, okay, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?" says Ferrari about her leap of faith.

For Ferrari, it's not just being on TV– it's the reporting. "I'm so glad I'm not anchoring," she admits. "I love the reporting. I want to be out there."

Ferrari is out there and works the police and court beat like no other local reporter. She confirms that reports of cookies to cops are true, and reveals her secret sources. 

Although she moved here in July 2004, she didn't go on the air until November. "I did the citizen police academy," she says. "I sat in on that and took names and cell phone numbers. I still keep in touch."

Ferrari's 10am-7:30pm work day starts at 6am, and even before she gets to the station, she's looking for story ideas. "I call my usual people," she explains. "That's how I get most of my ideas."

At the Newsplex, reporters are also the camera men, and Ferrari has mastered that skill as well, setting up shots and then editing them. She concedes that she could do without lugging the camera around.

And on TV, there's there's the matter of keeping up appearances that radio journalists don't have to worry about. "I learned you have to put a lot of make-up on," she says. "If you think you have enough, put on 10 times more."

The wardrobe is less problematic: "I like to shop," she says.

She acknowledges a perception people have about journalists: "We lose touch with the fact that people are involved. We look at it as just a news story. That's really a little bit sad. I want to do more stories that make people aware there are more issues out there than breaking news.

"And my other goal is to win an Emmy," she adds.

Another challenge TV reporters have is to get people to talk on camera. Ferrari has had her share of setting up an interview and driving out for it, only to have sources balk when they see the camera and realize she wants to film them. "Yes, we're a TV show," she says.

But she's pretty persuasive. "I keep talking to them," she says. "There's something about me– people tell me things. They know I'm interested." 

And her journalistic hero? "I always loved watching Katie Couric," says Ferrari of the personable UVA alum. "Now I watch Diane Sawyer. I want to be more of a serious journalist like her."

Age: Can we skip that one?

Why here? I wanted to pursue a career in TV news and researched Charlottesville and thought it would be a beautiful and fun place to live.

What's worst about living here? You can't get a direct flight anywhere.

Favorite hangout? The Downtown Mall  

Most overrated virtue? Patience. I have none.

People would be surprised to know: I'm an amateur photographer.

What would you change about yourself? I'd be more punctual.

Proudest accomplishment? Becoming a TV journalist

People find most annoying about you: I can remember details about court cases or stories I've done years ago, but other things may slip my mind.

Whom do you admire? Oprah Winfrey, not only because she's an accomplished journalist but because someone told her she wouldn't make it, and she did despite the rejection.

Favorite book? Anything by James Patterson. I love murder mysteries.

Subject that causes you to rant? Charlottesville drivers. I'm used to Boston driving.

Biggest 21st-century thrill? GPS navigation systems

Biggest 21st-century creep out? My Space. If it's your space, then why are so many other people "in" your space?

What do you drive? BMW

In your car CD player right now: Bon Jovi 

Next journey? Marriage and a family, I hope.

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? In third grade, I got caught putting tacks on other kids' seats. I went to Catholic school. It was pretty traumatic.

Regret: That I didn't start my career in TV sooner

Favorite comfort food: Coffee Heath Bar ice cream

Always in your refrigerator: Bottled water

Must-see TV: Prison Break and 24... of course only watching them on WAHU Fox 27

Favorite cartoon: Porky Pig

Describe a perfect day. Lying on the beach on the Italian Riviera, a little late afternoon shopping and dinner for two by candlelight on the waterfront

Walter Mitty fantasy: I'm a CIA special agent disguised as a broadcast journalist, and by night I'm saving the world. I drive a souped-up Ferrari and my lipstick is a small powerful revolver.

Who'd play you in the movie? Catherine Zeta Jones

Most embarrassing moment? I was a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding and my heel broke, sending me flying down the aisle. Speaking of which, that just recently happened to me again at the Newsplex.

Best advice you ever got? If you believe, you can achieve.

Favorite bumper sticker? Virginia is for lovers.