With Fox News Channel celebrating its 15th anniversary this month, nobody has more right to extol the success of its Oct. 7, 1996, launch than Minnesotan Lauren Green. The classical pianist, Miss Minnesota 1984, and former KSTP-TV and Chicago WBBM-TV anchor has been at the channel all 15 years in several assignments, most recently as a religion correspondent.
Q You were the first on-air talent Fox News Channel president Roger Ailes hired?
A A little fun fact.
Q What do you remember about that time?
A I was working in Chicago and had just gotten a New York agent, and I told him I really wanted to work in New York. He brought me in to do standard interviews with the networks. And [the agent] said Fox is starting up this cable network and they want to see you. Picture 15 years ago. Everybody worshipped the networks. ABC, NBC, CBS is where you wanted to be and cable was the poor stepchild. My agent said Roger Ailes and other Fox executives were really wonderful people to work for and that I should talk to them. We had a wonderful conversation. I had a passion for the arts and a knowledge of news because I was covering news in Chicago. I thought we got along well. I came back to Chicago and my agent called and said They want to hire you. I said, That's really nice. Might as well give it a try. My first job, I was doing the pilot newscast as they were trying to get the news operation up and running. They were trying to get a newscast up every 20 minutes, make it run like a regular newscast. I had a plywood desk and one camera, no prompter. It was raw.
Q Tell me something I wouldn't expect to hear about Roger Ailes.
A He's a really fair person, a really nice person. I've always had great conversations with him. He's the first boss I ever worked for who you could go in and talk to about anything. This is the thing that really impresses me about Roger: He has instilled in me the need to actually figure out if there is a solution before I go in and talk to him. Can I take the solution to my boss and not just be a complainer?
Q You've covered the arts, did the news updates for "Fox & Friends" and since 2007 have been the religion correspondent?
A This is the best job ever for me. Really allows me to cover one of my greatest passions, which is looking inside the human soul and how that relates to news. Sometimes it can get frustrating because I know how deeply belief systems are embedded in every human being. It's really fascinating.
Q How are you tying religion into the book you're writing?
A Basically, it's music-related and really hard to explain, which is why it's taking me so long. It's called "The Lighthouse: God as a Living Reality," and part of it was research I did for my Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship in England.
Q How much does a religion correspondent travel?
A I don't do a lot of traveling but when I have traveled it's good. I've traveled to places like Rome, for the beatification of Pope John Paul II; other stories as well. I've been to Jerusalem, London. With the advent of technology and satellites, a lot of times I don't need to travel and everything is kind of here; everybody comes through here.
Q What accounts for you being undervalued and under-appreciated at KSTP-TV?
A I don't know. Other people have said that. On-air personalities always have a little narcissism in them. I think one of the real growth elements for me was to decide, Is this me thinking I'm undervalued or This is just not the atmosphere for you right now?
Q Isn't the great career you've had since leaving KSTP evidence that you were undervalued there?
A There is something about a certain aspect of America, and you'll get it but I don't think the most liberal person really gets it. You're always going to be a minority. It would be easy for me to rest on that excuse, that I can't make it because I am black. Even if it's true, I can't go there. It serves no purpose. All our suffering, pain and troubles create a better person, if we approach it right.
Q What is your mom, Bessie, up to these days? I haven't run into her lately, and when I saw her at Mystic Lake she was looking way too beatifically at "Joe Million" star Evan Marriott, who was making an appearance at the casino.
A That's right. I remember that now. She just got a new car because her other car conked out. It's funny. My mother's 88. When she got this other car, soon after my father died almost 20 years ago, she was thinking, Oh, I won't last that long. The car will last longer than me. The car dies and she's upset she can't go to the casino. But we [Green and her siblings] got her a new 2011 Honda. It'll last her another 20 years.
Q After your Miss Minnesota reign, how spirited were the critique sessions when you watched the Miss America contest with other high-profile local beauty queens?
A That was years ago. We were very sympathetic.
Q What do you think of the "Toddlers & Tiaras" phenomenon?
A My gosh! It's like a car wreck you can't look away from. I cannot believe it. Sometimes I want to go in there and look at these mothers and just slap them. I don't have the words.
Q Played any piano recitals for one lately? Remember when I was in NYC and you invited me over to a recital along with a guy who didn't show up?
A Right! Oh yeah. I'm having a little neurological problem in my right hand, dystonia. It's one of the challenges in my life right now. Musicians and some athletes get it.
Q You have a Facebook page but you don't even know your password, so with whom are your Facebook friends really interacting?
A [Laughter] My niece, Nicole Porter. She lives in Queens. She went through the prospective friends list once and I was just sitting there doing other stuff. [Porter asked], Do you want this person? I said yes. Do you want that person? I don't even know who that is! She will go in and put pictures in and I'll ask, How'd that picture get in there? You said you were going to keep it tasteful. I won't know about it. I probably check it maybe every few weeks.
C.J.'s interviews are edited for space and clarity. C.J. can be reached at 612.332.TIPS or email@example.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on FOX 9 Thursday mornings.