Doing Dishes: Tonight At 10
TV-13 duo Stokes, Herzog co-anchor work and life
Some lovers climb fire escapes just to say goodnight, others find dancing rather dreamy, and still others enjoy romance over a nice, juicy scoop of news. Take Chris Herzog and Sarah Stokes, co-anchors of the 10pm news at WEAU TV-13 for two months now. They’re the first married couple to co-anchor in western Wisconsin.
“It’s a lot of fun,” says Herzog. “Sarah’s my best friend.”
The two balance each other out. “We don’t have to worry about chemistry,” says Stokes. “He’s got my back. He’ll whisper, ‘You’ve got lipstick on your teeth.’ Or I’ll know when he’s going to cough so I hop in to cover.” Even their viewers get a kick out of them, connecting with a family both on and off the air.
The love story begins once upon a time in Springfield, Mo., where Herzog was Stokes’ boss and later her co-anchor. “I didn’t like Chris at first,” admits Stokes. “He was always busting my chops.”
Chris smiles. “But it turned out well for her professionally,” he says.
“I learned from him. That’s the truth,” says Stokes. “But I would also go into the bathroom and cry.” But once she grew to know Chris outside of work, she fell in love and could put their unique relationship in perspective, saying, “I respect the at-work Chris and love the at-home Chris.”
As co-anchors, Stokes and Herzog find stories, call for interviews, write drafts, and edit for legally sound and objective news. “People think you come in at 9:30, put on some makeup and go on,” says Stokes. But one show takes a lot of preparation. On top of anchoring, Stokes produces Wisconsin Journal, a lighter, lifestyle oriented show airing weekend mornings. Herzog anchors the 6pm news and is managing editor for the station.
“We both love this job,” says Stokes. “We don’t punch out. Being married to someone else who cares that much does our viewers a double-service.”
“We’re both very driven,” says Herzog. “We want people in the community to know we’re working for them.”
Days they don’t see each other for more than five hours feels weird to Stokes. Even their desks sit diagonally from each other. But working so closely together is not without its challenges. Herzog says they can be on edge at work like anybody else in a newsroom. “Everybody has different opinions on what should be done. We’re no different,” says Herzog.
They’ve learned not to take things personally, especially since they can bypass polite courtesy and padded words that coworkers in general feel is good etiquette. “We’re straight-shooters with each other,” says Stokes.
“In the end, we work it out,” says Herzog. “If we disagree, if we’re fighting about something, I know it’s important to her. I trust her. I mull that over.”
Though it’s not unusual to find married couples in the television business, transferring to new jobs can be competitive with the spouse, and moving from Missouri could have been difficult. “It’s especially remarkable that we got jobs in the same town at the same station at the same time,” says Stokes.
But Herzog said they made a conscious decision to move to Eau Claire and a smaller station. “It’s about quality of life,” says Herzog. “TV is a business where you move around a lot. We did that. We wanted to find a place to settle.”
Stokes agrees, adding, “Working together is just the icing on the cake.”
With that, it’s tempting to add, “And they lived happily ever after,” but tuning in at 10pm, you could watch their story yourself.