Get to Know: Catherine Anaya

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In July, former CBS 5 KPHO TV anchor Catherine Anaya left the television news business after more than two decades on the air. We’ll talk with Catherine Anaya about her decision to leave and career in television news.

JOSE CARDENAS: Good evening. I'm Jose Cardenas. We'll talk to former news anchor Catherine Anaya about her career and why she decided to leave television news. And a film captures a complex aspect of the Vietnam war and the legacy of Latino veterans and their families during the conflict. All this coming up on "Horizonte."
VIDEO: Funding for "Horizonte" is made possible by contributions by the friends of eight, members of your Arizona PBS station.
JOSE CARDENAS: Thank you for joining us. In July, Catherine Anaya left the anchor desk after more than 10 years at CBS 5 KPHO TV and after more than two decades on the air in television news. Join me as we get to know Catherine Anaya.
CATHERINE ANAYA: Nice to see you again.


JOSE CARDENAS: Good to have you on the show.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Thank you.

JOSE CARDENAS: Hard to believe you stepped down already. I think people are not accepting that.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Well, that is very sweet of you. It has been a very big life change for me, but I'm enjoying every moment of it and to be there for my family, is re-enforcement every single day that I did the right thing.


JOSE CARDENAS: Before we get into the details of your career and why you decided to step down at this time, give us just a thumbnail sketch of how you got into the business and a little bit of your background.

CATHERINE ANAYA: I started out in print journalism actually at USC. I Wrote for the "daily Trojan" and thought that that would be what I would do with my career, to be a print reporter. And then somebody presented the idea of

broadcast journalism to me, the more I investigated it, the more -- they like to say when the bug has bitten you, that's it. I mean, you're done. That happened to me. I became very involved in finding my way through journalism. When I graduated, after I had done several internships, I basically sent my tape out everywhere across the country, and the first job offer that I received was from south Texas, right on the border of Texas and Mexico and worked there for a year and anchored the morning news. Then I went to south bend, Indiana, fish out of water, USC and Notre Dame territory, and I was there for a year.


JOSE CARDENAS: That must have been tough.

CATHERINE ANAYA: That was a little tough and the snow added to that, too. I anchored morning news there. And then I came here to Phoenix, from '92 to '98, where I anchored morning news, noon news, and I reported as well. When I left there in '98, I went to Los Angeles and I worked for the CBS station in LA which was coming home for me, coming full circle. And then in 2003 I got the call to come back to Phoenix, so I have been here ever since. I was with channel five for more than 12 years. It was a glorious run and tremendous career.


JOSE CARDENAS: Your entire career pretty much as the anchor of the news.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Yes.


JOSE CARDENAS: You've always looked very youthful, still look very youthful.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Thank you.


JOSE CARDENAS: Was that initially a hindrance. Any problems in creditability, for example?

CATHERINE ANAYA: I think I probably imposed a lot of that on myself. I had hair down to here. And I sounded like I was 12, even though I was 22 when I started out and I probably looked like I was 10. Nobody ever said you need to do such and such, but I just felt like, if I'm going to be behind the anchor desk every morning, I should probably look a little more than 15. So I cut my hair up to here. And I started working on my voice a little bit keeping it down here instead of up here, but that was it. I think it is actually probably served me well looking a little younger than I was, because I was able to have a long career. Now, of course, I'm not the youngest person in the room. So that is a little difficult to get used to. But, no, it wasn't really a problem.


JOSE CARDENAS: Speaking of things in the room, the elephant in the room, is why? And I know that you said it was family. We have a picture of your family.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Uh-hmm.


JOSE CARDENAS: What was it that led to you make this decision? What aspect of family life? You have done a wonderful job already. Your daughter is a freshman at USC - but you still have a young man at home.

CATHERINE ANAYA: I have a son at home who is almost 13, it's a very critical point in his life. Their father passed away unexpectedly in October, my ex-husband.


JOSE CARDENAS: The picture on the screen is your current husband --

CATHERINE ANAYA: It's, my current husband. I've been remarried a little over two years. That's my daughter on the left, and my son on the right. But when he passed away, at the memorial service, my daughter talked about in her eulogy that he was there for everything and it's really true. I think I gave myself a pass for the many things that I had to miss because of my career because he was there. I could always justify, yes, I wasn't there but he was. Now he wasn't going to be there anymore. Hearing her say the words resonated with me in so many ways. I thought to myself, if she has to give my eulogy tomorrow, she wouldn't be able to say the same thing. So it affected me very deeply more and more as each day progressed. I would talk to my husband about what do you think about me leaving? Because I think my son needs me right now, especially with his sister going off to college, she's at that critical turning point. I didn't want him to be 18 years old and be lost and wonder why I chose to put a paycheck before him. If I can step in now and be that present parent for him, I can have a positive influence not just on raising a really good boy but, but a fine man. So, that's why I did it.

JOSE CARDENAS: I think your last day was July 10th.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Yes.


JOSE CARDENAS: What has it been like since then?

CATHERINE ANAYA: Well, it has been a little bit of a challenge. I'm going to be honest. He's not used to having me around all of the time and he has basically said there are days when I am quite annoying. I am so up in his business. But I think he is also seeing the benefits of having me there. First of all, I have seen a complete change in his attitude toward me. It is not just, you know, why are you saying that when you are not here to back it up? I am there. The minute he gets home from school, he is my number one focus. And, so, we have seen a progression in his grades. We have seen a progression in his attitude toward seeing me at his baseball games all of the time, and not just being there, but knowing who everybody is.


JOSE CARDENAS: So the decision was validated.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Absolutely, every single day.


JOSE CARDENAS: Let's talk about your career. We have one picture of you on the set we want to put up right now. Talk about the highlights and any difficulties that you ran into. It was a lengthy career, one of the most recognized faces and voices in television news in Arizona.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Well thank you.

JOSE CARDENAS: Give us a summary.

CATHERINE ANAYA: I think probably the highlights for me are taking ordinary people doing extraordinary things and taking their stories and bringing them to life. I think I have had an impact that way. At least that's the response that I have gotten from the community. I think also being a community-minded journalist. I have been very involved in the community. I've tried to use my position as a voice for people who normally wouldn't have that voice. So, I think that is probably been the highlight for me. The challenges are probably the same challenges that most people have in this business, and that is that you work from contract to contract. And, so, you know, your life as it is never really feels permanent because you may or may not be renewed the next time your contract comes around. So that's a tough way to live in a round-about way it probably led to, you know, my divorce the first time I was married, because it is just a very tough way to live. But I think when I came back to Arizona, I really made being involved in the community a priority for me unlike in the past. Because I understood that it's more about what you do with the job than the job title itself. And I really felt like I was put in that position for a higher purpose than just what you see on TV.


JOSE CARDENAS: And speaking of being involved in the community, we have another picture of you with a group, and they're part of an organization that you help found.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Yes, I founded a group more than five years ago, it's called the sisterhood of super women. Basically what I found when I was involved in the community, is you have these tremendous nonprofit organizations and people doing great things, but they fall under the radar. Nobody is telling their stories, nobody knows about them. So I chose to tell their stories on a weekly segment on channel 5, called better Arizona. But, that stemmed from my involvement in the community. So I thought well, if I start this group of these great, powerful, passionate women who all have a common goal, and that is to improve our neighborhoods and our community and the place that we're raising our children, to come together once a month, pick a different charity every month and learn about them and also support them financially and it doesn't have to be a large number. It can be $5, $50, whatever it is, but we take that knowledge and take it back to our respective communities and now you have friendships that have formed from that and you have had volunteerism that has formed from that, and news stories or potential donors that, you know, may have connections that we don't even know about. So, I really feel like I have helped take some of those smaller nonprofits and given them a little bit of a bigger platform.


JOSE CARDENAS: And you're continuing to be involved in the community. And you're still working. I think people should know that you have a media company and you're doing things. Tell us briefly--

CATHERINE ANAYA: Well the media company, four hearts media, for my family and it is basically everything that I have been doing. It's video story telling, speaking, Emceeing, hosting, media training, I write a blog that is very personal. I have basically taken it and put it under one umbrella. That's my business, I say that is my part-time job and my full-time job is my son. I just was elected to the Make-A-Wish Arizona board. When I decided to step down from the news desk, I was approached by various people wanting to join boards - and you can only stretch yourself so thin.


JOSE CARDENAS: You would be right back in the same situation you were.

CATHERINE ANAYA: Right. So I thought, let me pick one -- actually I'm on two boards -- let me pick one where I feel there is enough diversity under that one non-profit that I can affect a lot of people.


JOSE CARDENAS: Catherine, speaking of diversity, and we're almost out of time, but has your Latina background ever been an issue during your 25 years in broadcasting?

CATHERINE ANAYA: You know, not a major issue. I was the first Hispanic anchor in south bend, Indiana. Which was one of the reasons why I went there. I thought, wow, what a phenomenal thing to be part of history. It was only a 4% Hispanic population, but they allowed me to tell stories from the Hispanic perspective which I think was a tremendous opportunity for me to maybe erase some of the preconceived notions that people might have about the community. So, I think that I have actually used it to do more good than anything else. I haven't really had much push-back. You know, you have your small number of people who-- they're going to push back against anything.


JOSE CARDENAS: Well you have done very well. You have done good and you have done well and we are delighted to have you on our show and wish you the best in the future.
CATHERINE ANAYA: Thank you, it's a pleasure. I appreciate it.

JOSE CARDENAS: Thank you so much.

Catherine Anaya: former CBS 5 KPHO TV anchor

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