Behind the Glitz: 48 Hours with Kellie Burns

Yes, the star TV anchor delivers the news every weekday, but as she tells us here, there’s a lot more going on than you might ever imagine.

BY April 3, 2015



5:30 a.m.

It’s an ungodly hour. No one should get up this early. Trust me, I stumble out of bed—I do not jump out of bed. I stopped doing the late news seven years ago and my body still hasn’t adjusted. But I’ve got no choice—I need to get myself ready before the kids wake up at 7 a.m. Of course, this was the night both Jack and Elle decided to sneak into my bed, so I spent most of it removing various body parts from my face and back. (Her husband, Ed, commutes to Chicago for work and is out of town.)

I manage to shower, get “camera ready” and steam-press two different outfits: one for day and the other for “on air.” Next, I try to prepare a decent dinner, turning to my favorite appliance: my crockpot. I throw in some carrots, some onions and potatoes, topping it all off with a chicken. I believe in eating healthy and I try my best every morning so they aren’t stuck eating frozen foods later in the day.


7 a.m.

In the meantime, I’ve had my coffee (thank you, Keurig coffee maker)—if I don’t start out right, the whole day is going to go wrong. And now the kids are up. Elle, my 2-year-old, is great at getting herself dressed, although her outfits rarely match, are often repeated and she forgets her underwear. It’s like spring break over here. Jack, at 10, is just the opposite. It takes him forever to get dressed and he over-matches, sometimes walking out of the house in blue neon Under Armour from head to toe. And shock of all shocks, this morning he is in his uniform: Under Armour blue shirt, Under Armour plaid blue shorts, Under Armour baby blue socks and blue Under Armour shoes…

They are not big eaters, so you would think I would learn, instead of nitrate-free bacon and scrambled free-range eggs, I should just feed them sugar cereal and blue yogurt. They would be much happier and I could send them to school all sugared up. We finally get in the car almost on time, and I am just slightly sweating and have not yelled once. Lunch boxes? Check. School bags? Check. Extra clothes? Check. We are ready to go.


7:40 a.m.

In the car. I try to drop Jack off at Canterbury School by 7:50, reviewing the material for his upcoming math test on the way. With a study test in my hand, I’m quizzing him on geometry—shapes, rhombuses, parallelograms. (I’ll make the evening news whether I crash or not.) I get Elle to her preschool by 8 a.m. and hope I make it to FGCU by 9 a.m. I am scheduled to begin my remarks for the Human Trafficking Symposium being held there. I’m always happy to squeeze in time for the many worthy causes in Southwest Florida.


8:50 a.m.

I park my car in the garage and haul myself across campus in heels. Now I am sweating. I get to the ballroom with 10 minutes to spare, and spend my remaining minutes before it starts making sure I know how to pronounce the speakers’ names. (I’ll never forget, one time I said “Bice,” the Naples restaurant, as though it rhymed with “mice.” The guys from the restaurant were in-studio and they yelled, “It’s ‘Bee-chey!’”)


9 a.m.

My job at the symposium is to introduce the various guest speakers, moderate the panel of experts, take questions from the audience and act as the “human hook” in case anyone goes over their allotted time limit. In between my time on stage, I check work emails (I normally receive between 500 and 600 a day), double-check with my nanny about school pickups and homework, and review the remarks for the next speaker. (Bios were given to me before the event.) The information here is powerful. It’s startling to hear about the trafficking of children in our community for sex and labor. The stories are truly disturbing.


2 p.m.

I make my last announcement and quickly head across campus to the parking garage. On my 20-minute drive to the station, I call my babysitter and check in on my husband, Ed, for his flight tomorrow on Southwest. I also call the station as I come across a police roadblock. I want to make sure they are aware of a crash on Metro Parkway that has shut down the road. I learned we already have a crew on scene.


2:30 p.m.

I walk into the station about an hour later than normal. After I unload all my makeup and a change of clothing, I quickly review my three newscasts (5 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 6 p.m.), and touch base with the producers of each show. Heather Ferrell is my 5 p.m. producer. We are leading the newscast with some incredible video of a spectacular accident on Fort Myers Beach. A woman driving 60 miles per hour crashed into the outdoor seating area of a restaurant on Estero Boulevard. Six people were injured, but it’s a miracle no one was killed. We have the surveillance video from a nearby business showing the whole thing as it happens. 

A good TV news story needs three elements: great sound/interview with witnesses and/or victims, compelling pictures of the scene and a good story line. This one has it all. That doesn’t happen every day. Our reporter (Trent Kelly) is going to be telling the story live from the beach.  


3:30 p.m.

I review the 5:30 p.m. newscast, talking to our producer, David Smith, and then move over one desk to our senior producer, Rachel Powers, who is working on our 6 p.m. newscast. This is the show of record, the biggest newscast of the day, and the most watched newscast of all the stations, in all the day periods, in Southwest Florida. We get the Nielsen Ratings overnight, and each  day they are posted in the newsroom. Kind of like getting a report card every day.


4 p.m.

It’s on to the single most important part of the day: hair and makeup. If that’s not right, no one will listen to a word I say. It takes about 40 minutes to apply special makeup for the HD cameras, which can make a freckle look as big as a planet, if not covered up properly. I do my own application and my own hair. Everyone thinks we have a team of stylists getting us ready every day, but the truth is it’s just me. We do have an image consultant, who comes into town several times a year to go through our closets and make sure our hair is the right shade and shape and our makeup is good. She even checks to see we have a 90-day rotation of different outfits. No ruffles, prints or patterns for me, just simple, classic dresses, blouses and jackets—and the fit has to be perfect. The consultant likes colors that “pop,” although I tend to gravitate to black and navy.


4:45 p.m.

Peter Busch and I usually walk to the studio together to talk about the show. We need to be in place by 4:50 p.m., to cut a tease for the 5 p.m. show. I hook on my leg garter, which holds my mic box and IFB, a wireless device that allows my producer, in the production booth, to talk to me in my ear. Getting hooked up can be a challenge if I’m wearing a dress—running wire up my body to hook onto my collar. (Good thing the cameras aren’t running for that…)


5 p.m.

It’s time for the show. The video of the crash gets some serious “whoas” from the crew behind the scenes. From the news desk I am constantly updating scripts in the computer located in my desktop, checking emails for updates on our stories, and, often times, texting my kids and nanny to make sure they do their homework and eat (the kids, not the nanny, although she’s certainly welcome to eat if she wants to). The shows are constantly changing depending on breaking news or stories that are not ready for broadcast, and new information as it comes in. Our producers do the yeoman’s work, getting everything ready, from gathering new pictures, information and graphics to coordinating crews. They spend all day planning for a newscast, and at least 30 to 35 people are directly involved in pulling it all off. In fact, today there was breaking news as a man was arrested in Washington, D.C., for trying to blow up the Capitol. We kept waiting for a live signal from the Capitol because it had been evacuated. The producer kept telling us it was coming, but it kept being bumped. We finally got it on-air around 5:45 p.m. There is no script for that. We are seeing it live just as the viewers are seeing it. We hope there is enough information coming through on the computer to back it up. All we got was a note from the network on the situation, so we’re Googling information trying to see what anyone else knows.


6:30 p.m.

 When the show is over, I am out the door in 10 minutes, eager to get home to my kids. Twenty minutes later, I walk in the door and start checking Jack’s homework. Elle tries to interject during that—she’s not a big fan of him getting all of the attention. They had already had dinner, so we made popcorn in the air popper. They love to make it together. And we read a book (Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe). Jack actually participated. I got them to bed at 8:45 p.m., had a glass of red wine and was out by 9:30 p.m.



3 a.m.

I’m up. I usually wake up around 3 a.m. to check emails, get some water, do a kid check and go back to sleep. I think I got used to it when Jack was a baby.


4:30 a.m.

Well, Elle pooped in her diaper and she tried to clean it up herself. But she dropped some (oh yes) on the way to the bathroom and stepped in it. So she then got her Minnie Mouse vacuum to clean it up. That went smashingly, so there are little poo streaks and footprints all over the bedroom and hallway. (I had to throw out the vacuum and have someone come professionally to clean the carpeting. What 2-year-old tries to clean herself up? She’s really something.)


6 a.m.

The alarm goes off and her name is Elle. At least she gets herself dressed, although it’s because she wants to wear the same pair of “skinny jeans” and T-shirt every single day. I have learned to pick my battles, especially on mornings when things are rushed.


7:45 a.m.

Again, we are out the door almost on time. Today it’s two school drop-offs and an 8 a.m. meeting at Jack’s school for their major fundraiser before a 9 a.m. hair appointment. 


9 a.m.

My stylist, Vinnie Hutt at La Te Da Salon, has been doing my hair for 20 years. He watches almost every show, and it’s not uncommon for me to get an urgent text or email during the broadcast about a stray hair or misplaced makeup. I once tried to pull my hair back with a barrette and immediately got an email from him asking if I thought I was 25. He doesn’t even ask what I want when I sit in his chair; he does what he thinks looks best. Vinnie is in constant contact with the image consultant, and with my boss (Darrel Adams). Darrel’s rules are clear: no sleeveless shirts, no long stringy hair and no patterned tops. We’ve learned what works together. One image consultant suggested I change my hair color to medium brown, and a handful of viewers called and complained. In fact, one sent an email after a new style saying my hair looked like an old army helmet. 


11 a.m.

I rush home, put on a dress, and pack a suit for the broadcast and a pink and white outfit for a promo shoot for the upcoming Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in March. I am meeting FGCU’s development director, Chris Simenou, for lunch at Fancy’s Southern Café (so good!) to talk about fundraising and the recent Night at the Nest, which raised a record $350,000.


1:50 p.m.

I race to the station, change into my pink and white attire, and meet the other female anchors in the studio with the commercial production team, including my super-talented little brother (John Burns), a photographer at the station. I feel really bad because all the other girls were ready and in their spots. Rachel Pierce, Heather Turco, Stacy Deffenbaugh, Lisa Spooner and I are shooting the promotional spot. We have to shoot in segments, so a 30-second spot takes about an hour to execute.


3 p.m.

I change my clothes, out of the pink and into a gray and black dress. More my style. I have just enough time to meet with my producers, and go over scripts. We plan a follow-up of yesterday’s crash. We tracked down the guy who actually rescued the people out of their car. Peter and I spend a lot of time going over our scripts, editing them and rewriting them. We also try to help in the writing, often tackling the “teases” and “headlines” to make sure they will hold the interest of our audience. Every day there is pressure to make sure we put on the best broadcast, because you are only as good as your last ratings book (the books come out four times a year: February, May, July and November).

Peter has a daughter almost the same age as Elle, so we compare horror stories, though he often wins. He and his wife, Rachel, have three daughters, all under the age of 6. But I’m pretty sure I’ve got him beat tonight—in fact, I can give him a great deal on a slightly used Minnie Mouse vacuum cleaner.


5 p.m.

Tonight’s hour-and-a-half broadcast is smoother than last night, with less breaking news. In between segments and during commercial breaks I’m getting emails from people about our Cuba trip. I’m doing a lot of the planning for it. And I got an email from “Ira” digging the blue jacket I’m wearing. “It’s off-the-charts cool.” I told him I got it at Saks.


6:30 p.m.

I need to get out of work as quickly as possible and get home. Jack (who is in fourth grade) has a math test tomorrow, and we need to study. Not easy when your daughter demands all your attention the minute you walk in the door. But my husband is in from Chicago, arriving about an hour ago, so we can divide and conquer. When I get home, the kids are already fed, so it’s just baths and homework. I think it’s time for a glass of wine. 

Such a glamorous life!


The Emails I Get

If I were you I wouldn’t get near a camera with all the weight you gained. Girl, if you don’t get that weight off now, you will have it and a bunch more the rest of your life. Women scream about their husbands walking out on them. If they would look in the mirror they would find why their husband left. No one wants to go to bed with a fat woman. Also your hair was a mess tonight on camera.

Kellie, 98% of the decisions made about a person are made visually first. Get it together, please. You were a pretty woman.  Join Curves and you will be again.

(Kellie was 39 weeks pregnant when she received this email.)


I sure hope you did not pay alot of money for college, if you did you should receive a refund for public speaking.  I have not seen a news cast yet where you could speak correctly. ANNOYING.  Sorry if this sounds rude but speak correctly very annoying to watch the news with someone cannot read and speak.

 Thank you


Hi kelly u look amazing tonight…r u married? Whats your story.. if i dont ask you .. i wont know right?


We watch you every night and tonight (Thursday) I was really concerned when you came on as you were very RED on your face and we thought you were not well.  Please tell us it was your make-up person getting a little heavy handed and that you are fine.  Enjoy your reporting and we hope your new little one is well and the rest of your family.

A fan


Honey, we have been fans of yours for many years (since you FIRST came on TV) & think you’ve developed into a worthy journalist & newscaster. Back in the “old days” your hair was many colors (striped, in fact). It was a style of the moment but it looked checkered on otherwise serious news casting. When you came back here (round two), married & a baby you looked absolutely STUNNING!

I think it’s a hair thing. What I’m trying to suggest is that you darken it. This blonde thing is fun, I know, but it looks wrong for your coloring (which isn’t THAT Nordic ). Tell you (sic) hair person to have fun with someone else. You need to tone it way down, go glossy and think of someone you find beautiful who’s not blonde (just for now).


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