When Brody O’Connell came to Northern Michigan three years ago, the Pittsburgh transplant found more than a job.
“I literally didn’t know one person here so I kind of used work as an avenue to meet people and learn about the area,” said O’Connell, weekday morning anchor for TV 7&4. “The one thing about journalism, you get to know a lot of people.”
That included Kate Fox, the station’s weekend evening anchor who moved to the area from Rochester, Michigan just a few months after O’Connell arrived.
“She had been to Harbor Springs before, but Kate didn’t know many people, so being the kind-hearted person I am, I offered to introduce her to the area as a co-worker… maybe with some hidden intentions,” laughed O’Connell.
“It was my first week at 7&4 News and I knew right away that Brody was a character. He was cracking jokes in the newsroom and making everyone laugh. It was also during my first week that he slyly asked me out on a first date using the line, ‘know what it’s like to be new in a new city,’” recalled Fox.
GETTING TO KNOW THE AREA… AND EACH OTHER
When they weren’t covering the region’s news, the two got to know the area together. Just a month or two later, the co-workers took their relationship to a new level.
“When we first started working, we actually anchored the weekend newscast together.
Then we started dating. We kind of kept it under wraps at work. Some people knew but many others didn’t,” said O’Connell about the tricky situation of inter-office relationships, particularly ones that are in the public eye.
Unofficially, there have been a handful of relationships that have blossomed at the local news station.
“I can’t speak for the whole industry but I do know a lot of news couples,” O’Connell volunteered. “For example, we had a producer who is now married to a former reporter and I definitely knew a lot of people in the Pittsburgh market who found relationships at work.
“I think with news you just have similar personalities which can either clash or click,” he added. “Plus, when you’re spending 40 to 50 hours with that person each week, it just happens.”
Since taking the weekday morning co-anchor position last year, O’Connell now works opposite schedules of Fox, who works weekend evenings.
“We have our weekday evenings together but I go to bed typically around 9 o’clock which is somewhat unusual for people our age,” O’Connell said (by the time he’s waking up to head to work, most people on the West Coast are just getting ready to head out for a night on the town).
Despite the schedule differences, it works, said O’Connell.
“It allows a little normalcy, that way we don’t always feel like co-workers,” he said, adding the two are mainly homebodies anyway and prefer to lay low and relax.
When it comes to music, their tastes are also similar – from classic rock and the Beatles to Dave Matthews Band (“I’ve converted her into a Dave fan,” O’Connell added).
But the line is drawn at sports. “I’m a diehard Steelers and Penguins fan and she’s a diehard Red Wings and Lions fan. That always makes for a fun dynamic,” he laughed.
The two also enjoy local wines, which provided the backdrop for O’Connell’s summer proposal.
“We were walking through the vineyard at 45 North, the winery up in Leelanau County when I asked,” said O’Connell.
“We took a walk through the vineyards--and this sounds corny but it’s true--I picked up a dandy-lion and blew it,” said Fox. “Brody asked what I wished for and I said that we would spend our lives together...When I turned around he was down on his knee, with a box in hand!” The two plan on honeymooning in Napa Valley after their 2013 July wedding.
So, what’s on the horizon for these two TV lovebirds?
“Right now, we’re just enjoying this phase of our lives,” said O’Connell.