By Risa Lake
With all of the tragedies and crimes broadcast daily on the news, Lisa Petrillo believes it is her job to deliver a positive and pleasant break in the newscast.
So as the entertainment reporter for CBS4 Miami, Petrillo keeps viewers informed of the latest in food, fashion, travel and lifestyle.
Petrillo says she had always enjoyed writing stories and conducting interviews. She was a high school senior when a family friend and TV producer invited her to visit the newsroom at WTVJ – now NBC6. The friend gave Petrillo a task – to write a story for an anchor to read. Anchor Ana Azcuy read the story on the air, and from that moment on, Petrillo was hooked.
“She loved how I wrote it!” Petrillo recalled.
Diane Magnum, who was the anchor at Channel 10 when Petrillo first began working there, said, “It didn’t take long for Lisa to show up on the air.”
After graduating with a broadcast journalism major in 1985, Petrillo quickly climbed up the career ladder – from her first job in communications at the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, to working at Channel 10, to finally becoming the premier entertainment reporter in Miami.
She is now Channel 4’s go-to reporter to interview celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Paul McCartney.
“It’s what I enjoy most,” she said. “Trying to find a connection with the celebrity so I can find out unique things.”
One of Petrillo’s favorite celebrity experiences was watching McCartney’s private concert rehearsal at the American Airlines Arena when he opened his U.S. tour in Miami in 2005.
“He was just five feet from me, singing straight to me,” she said. “That was an incredible moment!”
What Petrillo especially enjoys about broadcasting is the unpredictability of the job, she said.
“Days are never typical for a TV reporter,” Petrillo said. “I’ll interview a star for his new movie one day, do a profile on a new restaurant the next day, and cover a local event a day later.”
When she covered the opening day of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in February, she reported on all the events straight from the tasting tents on the beach. Later, she interviewed food world stars like Rachel Ray, Martha Stewart and Geoffrey Zakarian.
“My job is always changing,” she said. “It’s never boring, but always on deadline!”
What makes Petrillo a great reporter is “her ability to put her interview subjects at ease, to ask interesting and unexpected questions, and to listen,” Magnum said.
When Petrillo is able to escape from her busy career, she puts her talent and experience as a reporter to good use, emceeing galas and events to help charities such as the American Cancer Society, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, Miami Children’s Hospital, and the Diabetes Research Institute.
“I like to donate my time, when I can, to help the organizations I believe in,” she said.
Broadcasting has been a rewarding career, Petrillo said.
“It is a difficult field,” she said. “It requires perseverance, dedication and at times, a thick skin, but the rewards for me have been worth it all.”