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VEGAS PEOPLE: Dayna, TV news anchor

This month, Gambling magazine tracked down a local celebrity in Vegas, TV news anchor Dayna Roselli. Dayna anchors the morning news show from 4-7am along with co-anchor Dave McCann and the rest of the team, and took time out to talk Paul Sculpher through her daily routine

Gambling: Hi Dayna, firstly can you tell us how somebody gets into this line of work? Dayna: Ever since school and college I had kind of admired the people who make TV, and I got involved in student television at college. That’s a pretty good training ground, and we were all involved in every part of making TV shows. From there, I picked up an internship in my hometown of Rochester, New York, and realised this was what I wanted to do. In our industry the way you apply for jobs is by putting together a tape of your work, and I was lucky enough to land this job in Las Vegas.

So what makes a good TV anchor? A lot of it is about confidence; obviously it’s quite intimidating at times. In the job that I have, the ability to ad-lib is critical, and being able to think on the fly is key. We’ll often have the producer’s voice in our earpieces trying to fine tune the timing, so we’ll need to fill a little bit of time or wrap a piece up to order. I think a lot of the reason why I’ve been successful is simply my work ethic, and of course it’s all about preparation.

You must work some pretty interesting hours. The show goes out from 4-7am. In Vegas lots of people work crazy hours, so it’s watched relatively well compared to a lot of places, so I get up at 2am to arrive at about 3am in time for the start of the show. I’ll usually stick around until about 11am. Then I’ll run all the usual errands that people have to do on the way home. I’ll then take a nap for three hours or so, and get up and have my regular leisure time, for the gym, or phone calls, or whatever. Then it’s back to bed at 10pm and up at 2am, unless it’s the weekend, which I have off. I have other work related things to do sometimes, like attending shows and helping out with the entertainment reporting too.

And how does your social life work? Do you get recognised around Vegas? Well, the social life can be quite tricky, so the weekends are important, and I meet tons of people as part of the job. I get recognised all the time in the street, which is usually great, with people being really kind. It can be a little awkward sometimes though, and I can’t even open the chat function on Facebook as I’d get swamped with people. There’s always the darker side of celebrity however, and I have had to take out a restraining order against one guy to stop him contacting me incessantly. Overall it’s great, though, and I’m really big on the social media side of things (Dayna is @DaynaRoselli on Twitter) – I can even tweet right from the news desk.

So what does the future hold? The career progression would be to aim for a station with a bigger market – Las Vegas is number forty-something out of 255 markets across the USA, with New York being number one. However, I’d love to move into hosting, maybe some sort of lifestyle show. I always wonder whether someone’s going to have a national show syndicated out of Las Vegas, as it’s a spot where there is always stuff going on, whether it’s a show, a celebrity launch, a big fight or whatever.

I noticed your award there on the desk [from a local radio show, it’s titled ‘Hottest News Chick’]. In the UK we’ve recently had a high-profile case where an older lady had issues with discrimination for her age. Does the sexist nature of the industry ever bother you? It’s not something I think about too much right now, and there are plenty of older anchors in the business, as well as a bunch of other interesting jobs I could move into. As far as appearances go, the fact that we’ve moved over to High Definition (HD) meant we needed some changes. We even had an HD specialist in to revamp the way we apply makeup, as you cannot get away with the same style on the more detailed pictures, and the wardrobe’s had a makeover too. The award was just a bit of fun, it’s kind of half gratifying and half not. Overall I’m aware of the way the business works, but for now I’m really happy here.

And have you ever been involved in any on-screen disasters, maybe like the infamous chicken comment on Fox 5 WNYW? [If you haven’t seen it, search youtube for “Ernie Anastos chicken”.] No, nothing like that! We have things going wrong every day, but try to keep things looking smooth of course. Most of the issues we have are just losing it with laughter – as a team we’re all pretty tight, and an accidental innuendo can set us all off.

SHOW TIME With that, I sat back to watch the show being broadcast live. I have to say, it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever watched. To the team, it was just another day, but watching all the segments being performed in front of me, and the eventual result on a monitor, felt about as far removed from my experience as anything I’ve ever seen – like watching witchcraft, or rocket science! The professionalism of these people was amazing, and the way they just turn on and off their TV manner was just extraordinary. A good example was after the show when I was chatting with Dayna, and she said she just had to make a phone call. I thought no more about it, but it turns out she was calling in to a local radio station to speak live on air with the presenter, and she just carried it off without thinking twice or looking even remotely nervous.

A tour of the station was amazing, with 138 employees and every function from the desk to the tech guys, as well as the department that actually sells the local advertising. I had a chance to sit behind the main news desk too, to see things from Dayna’s point of view. Great fun, and for all that the desk is absolutely pristine from the camera side, it was gratifying to see that behind the desk, there was all kinds of crap lying around, from handbags to coffee cups.

It’s really strange how a voice that sounds totally natural on TV is actually a little odd-sounding live, and seeing the team interchange at bewildering speed somehow resulted in a super-smooth final product, with VT segments, weather, traffic and live segments in the studio blending in. I met Dave the co-anchor, Dan the producer and Brian the traffic guy, all of whom could not have been more helpful. Never got the chance to meet the sports guy – not too much going on in the world of sport around 5am – but I like to think his name was probably Dirk, or Spike, or maybe Jed (the J-Dogg?). Overall, no question this was the most interesting assignment I’ve had so far for Gambling magazine, and feel free to take a peek at to see how the whole thing comes together.
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