With two newscasts a day, CTV anchor Coleen Christie is working harder than ever - but still finds time to indulge her foodie passions
It's not often, in fact probably never, that a person I’m assigned to interview has made lunch for me at their home. However, CTV news anchor Coleen Christie and I go back, from when I was a regular guest on Good Morning Canada, which Coleen hosted at the time.
So over homemade lasagna in her condo-with-a-view, I recently caught up with the smart, switched-on and ever-popular newswoman. (Christie also does dessert: check out her decadent layered cocount cake recipe.)
Double Duty at CTV
On April 8, Coleen moved back from the late-night news spot to anchor the weekday 5 p.m. newscast on CTV British Columbia, on top of co-hosting the Noon News with Mike Killeen. With 15 years at the network in Vancouver now under her belt, Coleen has been through numerous shifts and shuffles.
“It’s hard to believe I’ve been anchoring the 11:30 news for a little over a year,” she says. “I’m excited to be going back to CTV News at 5, and I’m thrilled to be co-anchoring the Noon News with my former Olympic co-host, 6 o’clock anchor Mike Killeen.” She’s not the only one who’s thrilled. In fact, Mike’s wife Jill called Coleen to say, “It’s not often I welcome another woman into my husband’s life, but I’m very happy about this!”
Considering her workload, plus the fact that Coleen is involved in numerous local charity events like Chefs for Life, the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s Heart of Gold Gala, Dress for Success, Arts Umbrella and Bust a Move for Breast Cancer, one wonders how she juggles it all.
“I get to meet and work with people in our community who are changing lives, and in many cases saving lives,” she says. “I’m lucky and honoured to be able to contribute in any way I can.”
The busiest woman in news: Coleen Christie anchors two newscasts a day and still finds time for exercise, charity work and cooking (Image: Adam Blasberg)
I ask her if she considers herself a Type A personality. “Oh yeahhh,” she laughs. “That’s why I love yoga because it’s so counter-me. It’s about letting go. I love what it does for me physically and mentally, to be stronger and more serene at the same time — qualities that come in handy in my job. Stress is my biggest health issue, but I’m getting a handle on it . . . slowly.”
Coleen’s philosophy on her career as a news anchor is less about being in the spotlight, and more about helping people understand the world a little better.
“I want to be an instrument,” she says. “I want to serve in that capacity, that’s my intention.”
And she appears to be meeting that goal. Les Staff, news director of CTV British Columbia, offers this:
“Coleen is one of the best anchors I’ve ever worked with. She always knows the material and she’s at her best during breaking news. I remember when we broadcast the opening of the Richmond Olympic Oval. We had to match the timing of our studio broadcast with the timing of the live ceremony at the Oval so that we joined in live. Coleen was the anchor and she had to adlib much of the content to keep us on time. It went off without a hitch and we won a major national award for that broadcast. Coleen is a real pro.”
Coleen Christie's a Foodie
With lunch finished, we move into Coleen’s living room and over tea and her homemade cherry loaf (which I was secretly hoping she would serve), our chat shifts to a common denominator — food. And of course, her blog on the CTV BC News website, Coleen’s Dish, which allows her to share stories, information and her own recipes.
“Food is the cornerstone to every culture,” she says. “We use it to celebrate, socialize and comfort each other. When my mom died, I was so moved by people who brought my dad and I food. It was love. He lives in Victoria and I was terrified he wouldn’t eat without my mom there. I am eternally grateful he met a wonderful woman who is now his wife. She feeds him well.”
Coleen bakes for her friends, her team at CTV (who covet her delicious cookies), and she brings her scones to children at Admiral Seymour Elementary in Strathcona. “It’s not a treat for them. It’s sustenance. I’ve learned if you think there’s nothing you can do to help someone . . . cook for them. It will fill you up too.”
Like many female TV personalities, Coleen’s fitness program and eating habits are always a topic of speculation among viewers. She’s committed to taking a healthy lunch to work most days, saying that tucking into a can of sardines and some vegetables gets her strange looks from her colleagues, but that doesn’t faze her.
She works out with a trainer once a week, walks to work and does some yoga, but really just chalks up her slim frame to “good DNA — I’m lucky, I’m strong.”
As Coleen explains, her blog is “about food, but it’s also about sharing stories, information and, yes, recipes. I want to share, maybe even inspire others to learn more and to experiment,” she says. “It’s a way of connecting with people on a personal level. I’m one of those people who will pore through cookbooks the way some people go through fashion or design magazines. Most of my older posts have been lost to a tech change, but I’m building it back!”
Christie's blog, Coleen's Dish, is all about sharing good food, stories, and information (Image: Adam Blasberg)
As part of her evolving blog, you can expect to read her views on teaching kids and teens about cooking and nutrition, which she sees as basic life skills that should be valued more than getting a driver’s license.
“We need to teach kids that a ‘muffin’ from a coffee shop is akin to a piece of cake and really no healthier.”
The Career of a Newswoman
Given that Coleen will be sitting behind the news desk twice a day now, I have to wonder about career burnout. “It’s a calling,” she responds. “It’s not a career if you want to make a lot of money, get famous or work nine-to-five. It’s hard and it’s stressful and I see my colleagues bring it day after day with pride, with a sense of humour, with respect for the industry — and you just go, ‘How lucky am I to have landed in this pool?’ ”
When it comes to advising the news-newbies out there on breaking into the biz, Coleen draws from her own experience with volunteering, doing unpaid work, only speaking to ask questions and just working hard.
I ask Coleen what she would do if she didn’t have a career in TV news, and for a moment she’s stumped.
“I haven’t got a clue,” she laughs. “I would work in television in some capacity, maybe not news, but in information. I love documentaries and non-fiction TV. Like Discovery Canada . . . that kind of stuff. I’m a bit of a science geek. If you are a good baker, you have to be a bit of that.”