by Mike Parks
Anna Kooiman needs south Charlotte to start waking up at 5 a.m.
Kooiman is a long way from home as one of the rotating hosts of Fox News Channel’s new early-morning show, “Fox and Friends First.” She grew up and for a long time worked in Charlotte, where her parents still live and own businesses – Southeast Oasis Pool and the Peppermint Forest Christmas Shop – best known for its catchy jingle. She went to Myers Park High School, where she played softball, and also played with the SouthPark Youth Association.
And walking her dog, Baxter, a 100-pound yellow lab, last Thursday in Central Park, Kooiman couldn’t stop thinking about things back home… like family, friends and Bojangles.
“They say you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl,” Kooiman said. “I still feel southern… I stick out here wearing my neon colors and white coat and big pink bag. I think I’ll always be a southerner.”
Kooiman has been in New York City for about four months now, and is still getting used to the little things: like getting Baxter’s giant bags of food home without a car. Other things, like being able to spend a day off in Central Park, are easier to get used to.
“I pinch myself every day when I walk to work down Sixth Avenue and ask myself if this is really happening,” Kooiman said. “Lots of people said, ‘Oh man, New York is an insane place. You being from the South, how are you going to keep up?’ Before I got here, I said, ‘Oh, New York is just going to slow me down.’”
Going slow isn’t always the easiest thing when you work for a 24-hour cable news network. Along with doing the early show, Kooiman is a correspondent in the channel’s New York City office. Sometimes she’s out in the field, other times she’s in the studio, or doing things for www.foxnews.com, or taping segments for the Fox Health Team or just a number of other things she says goes into her dream job.
“It was my pie-in-the-sky dream to make it to New York City,” she said. And it was her work in Charlotte that made her goal possible. Fox News approached her when she was on the morning show “Fox News Rising” on the Charlotte Fox affiliate, where the show’s “untraditional” format, as Kooiman calls it, gave her a chance to showcase her personality. After a few months of talks, Kooiman was packing her bags and heading north, along with Baxter, of course.
“Everybody says it can be lonely, but having Baxter here has really helped,” she said, though Baxter periodically broke her attention by barking at passing strangers.
So, what is “Fox and Friends First”?
“It’s everything you need to get your day started… your shot of expresso in the morning,” Kooiman said. The show mixes in lots of headlines with a friendly team of anchors and guests or political panels. You can see it at 5 a.m. Monday to Friday, if you remember to set your alarm.