Oh Chicago – sometimes I just pinch myself…

April9

I used to think I was the only person this giddy about my hometown.

Sometimes, I find myself trying to figure out how I’ll schedule in sleep because this city is at times just so intoxicating.

With NBC 5's Lauren Petty at Yak-Zies before Cubs home opener

Hours before the Chicago Cubs home opener last week, Lauren Petty said aloud what I’ve said to myself over and over the past few years: “sometimes I just have to pinch myself.”

Lauren is one of the reporters on my morning show at NBC 5 in Chicago. We’re both women who’ve worked in TV markets outside the Chicago area — and always wanted to come home. But, no matter how long you’re here – sometimes you just can’t believe you’re finally home. For me, it was a long time waiting — and even though I’ve been here for over three years now, I still just can’t get over how incredible the city is to me.

Terry Hemmert at 93XRT studios

This year’s Cubs home opener was one of those incredible Chicago days. We worked on the show for weeks,

starting with a meeting at the WXRT studios with Lin Brehmer and Mary Dixon (saw Terry Hemmert too while I was there — I’ve heard her host “Breakfast with the Beatles” for years — so cool to see her in the booth).

Day of the opener, I was in the office before 1am… the show looked great – shots were beautiful – team did an awesome job as always… and we even ended the show with a “7am stretch” live from “Yak-zies” with everyone singing “Take me out to the ballgame.”

Afterwards, I met Lin & Mary from XRT at Yak-Zies to thank them. As I was standing behind Yak-zies chatting with Lin back by the dumpsters… the back door opened – and a face from my high school years emerged.

Billy Corgan and me... just chatting behind Yak-Zies

It was Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins.

I found myself so unprepared for the moment. I was torn between wanting to belt out a few bars for him… and telling him I’m also from the northwest suburbs. Instead, I went the real dorky route and asked Lin if he wouldn’t mind taking a picture for me…

I really need to get some guts.

Watching Guster at 93XRT Cubs home opener show at Yak-zies

Merry Christmas to YOU…

December17

Like any warm-blooded woman… I love jewelry. In this way, I am not at all unique.

But unlike a lot of woman — I do not own a lot of it. I have just a few signature pieces. Some vintage — and a few that remind me of my travels. I don’t collect postcards anymore, never was a shot glass girl, don’t like magnets on my fridge, do not collect patches or other knickknacks… but I LOVE looking down at my ring remembering my shopping trip in Egypt… or putting on earrings I picked up in Panama or on my recent trip to Cuba…

When something really strikes me. I want it.

I especially LOVE vintage… and pieces that look as if they could be. I remember when my first fiance asked me what kind of ring I wanted. I didn’t know anything about diamonds or cuts. All I knew, it that I wanted something that looked like a period piece. Watch what you ask for ladies…

I have a feeling you’re going to hit it out of the ballpark 100% of the time with Isabella Rose Designs. She’s a designer a friend just turned me onto this year. You need to look at this website. I truly do not know if you’re going to be able to pick out just one piece. That’s the problem. The first time I went shopping — I found 3 I needed right away.

Renee Trikolas created the line. She’s a fellow Chicago woman and was also born in the suburbs. She named the company after her daughter Isabella Rose. What I love about her look – is it will last. It’s classic and clean. You can wear one bracelet … or take a few and mix them up on your arm at the same time. She was really smart to make many of them that look so great together.

Need a pick-me-up? Go shopping! Make it a very Merry Christmas for YOU!

There are several collections including:

  • Covet: Created with hand crafted semi-precious stones
  • Couture: Custom and one of a kind designed pieces
  • Perfection: 22 karat plated gold collection using semi precious rocks
  • Enchantment: The designer merged Swarovski crystal with metals.
  • Glo: Designed exclusively with Swarovski crystals
  • Little Miss Couture: All for little girls… and every little bead is Swarovski
  • Little Miss “Crittoure”: Princess meets pooch. No detail is forgotten with every crystal canine collar.

A Week in Cuba – a Lifetime of Learning

December12

I went to work today after being “offline” for 10 days with three strands of seeds on my neck and an arsenal of at least 20 new Spanish words I hadn’t owned 7 days prior. My body was strangely relaxed, my hair was wild and air-dried… and I was humming Bésame Mucho.

I also had a whole new knowledge and even more questions about the very eccentric and passionate country of Cuba.

This was no easy trip. But it’s getting easier now for U.S. residents to discover Cuba. Just a week before we left — O’Hare International Airport started weekly flights nonstop to Cuba — and on the second day of our trip, we ran into NBC Today Show shooting with National Geographic. A very strange coincidence… we talked about my show numbers here in Chicago (I’m an executive producer at the NBC station) and I made sure to introduce my father to anchor Natalie Morales. Great memory. We bumped into the crew a few more times during the week.

I just confirmed the NBC Today Show Cuba segment airs Friday, December 16.

We saw the crew after walking right through the middle of an Afro-Cuban music session in ‘Salvador’s Alley’ in Callejon de Hamel, Havana. I felt like I was sleepwalking. Music — chanting, smoke, pot, art, a mass of people everywhere… it was like a rave, orgy and Dave Matthews concert all in one.

Cuba felt like that several times during my week there… I’d look down the street, and swear I was dreaming or was just cast in a 1950′s era flick. I had only seen cars like that in the museums in Detroit. It was truly surreal. Everything people tell you…

I have about 1500 pictures and 45 videos. Believe me – each view is incredible. The music is unbelievable — and you will LOVE the Tropicana. Trust me.

An hour of advice to future PR professionals

October21

I had the honor of leaving work today – getting into a cab – and heading straight to college. Columbia College Chicago.

The school’s Public Relation Student Society of America Chapter (@ColumbiaPRSSA) invited me to speak at it’s social media conference:

Social Media in PR: Connecting YOU to the Real World
Tweet. Update Status. Check-in. Blog. Repeat. Social Media has changed the world as we know it and no one wants to be left out of the loop. Come learn about the ever-evolving uses and benefits of social media in PR and Marketing from the following social media gurus:
Kathryn Janicek
| NBC Chicago Executive Producer
Ernest Wilkins | RedEye Social Media/Special Events Coordinator
Tim Toomey | Rockit Ranch Productions Interactive Marketing Coordinator

What I love about speaking at events like these… is I never think I have a lot to share. That is, until I read what’s tweeted about me after I leave.

Today, on my 3-year anniversary of jumping onto Twitter… my Twitter stream BLEW UP. I had a few dozen college students tweeting as I spoke for an hour. If you’re a young PR professional or college student and couldn’t make it — here’s the dialogue that was streaming on Twitter while I was talking:

@ColumbiaPRSSA

Any twitter birthdays in the house? @kathrynjanicek is celebrating her third twitter birthday! #columSMC #HAPPYTWITTERBIRTHDAY

@sidneyreuben

The amazing @kathrynjanicek here at @ColumbiaPRSSA #columSMC lockerz.com/s/149022931

@ColumbiaPRSSA

Best way to brand yourself “Be on twitter!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@JacHumphrey

So glad I have the opportunity to hear @kathrynjanicek speak this morning, she has very valuable social media advice to share! #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“My intern checks my voicemail..If you can contact me in 140 characters, you’ve got my attention!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“Know your media when pitching.. you have to know the shows” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@DanielJNichols

“i believe a real news viewer  needs it on every platform, they don’t compete against each other.” #columSMC

@amjeser

“I got my job because of branding” @kathrynjanicek Brand yourself in social media and makes sure to MONITOR!! #columSMC @ColumbiaPRSSA

@CCCPRProf

You need a brand, you can’t just puke everything in your life out there – advice to interns from at @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

Talking to Columbia College's Anne Marie Mitchell (@CCCPRProf)

@ColumbiaPRSSA

Connecting via Social Media can be VERY powerful- leads to jobs!  @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“Show your stuff! We’re interested in leadership/clubs/experience!” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@amjeser

Pimp out your friends for LinkedIn recommendations – @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@MichaelEsparza7

@ColumbiaPRSSA #private becomes #public. Show your best face always, keep it professional! Thx 4 the advice @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“Be able to tell a good story. Work your pitch.. it will set yourself apart.” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@MichaelEsparza7

@ColumbiaPRSSA Take ur brand seriously! #Google yourself & create search traffic to better ur brand. Thx @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@DanielJNichols

“you need to have a stamp out there, a clean and professional stamp…it has to be a well maintained brand.” #columSMC

@DanielJNichols

“everything you send out on social media is going to be seen by the world.” #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“Over tweeting, posting, spamming can be hurtful…treat each person as a valid relationship” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@amjeser

“OMG YOU ALL NEED TO BE ON #KLOUT!” Tip of the day! @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

“Twitter has helped us tell stories,especially with Occupy Chicago. It’s a great way to keep people informed.” @kathrynjanicek #columSMC

@ColumbiaPRSSA

A9: “At the end of the day, we are customer service. We deliver what the viewer wants to see.” @kathrynjanicek @columSMC

mrdeonteblue Deonté

“Tell a good story” @KathrynJanicek on selling yourself. Same thing we are taught at @disneystore when selling products. #magic #ColumSMC

@DanielJNichols

Via @kathrynjanicek “if you can intrigue me in 140 characters…you can intrigue an audience” #ColumSMC

DickyJObliged Dick Joseph

Thanks @kathrynjanicek for the very insightful presentation at #ColumSMC

@DanielJNichols

“if you can’t tell a really good story you won’t get your story placed.” Via @kathrynjanicek #ColumSMC

@jessundressed

@kathrynjanicek is one heck of a #Twitter teacher. What a smart and savvy chick. #columSMC

@Zingarino77

Calculating my Klout now at #columsmc Social Media Conference! Thanks for the tip @kathrynjanicek and @MichaelEsparza7 at #nbcchicago!

@DanielJNichols

Via @kathrynjanicek “use social media to build your network and get a job” #columSMC

@sidneyreuben Sidney Reuben

My favorite was e session with @kathrynjanicek RT @ColumbiaPRSSA: Did you attend #ColumSMC? What was your favorite part? What did you learn?

@Hilaryann_

Thank you for speaking @kathrynjanicek at #ColumSMC Always amazing hearing your stories & advice!

@davehennessy Dave Hennessy

Thanks @kathrynjanicek for speaking at #ColumSMC today. Enjoyed your thoughts on journalism + social.

@Zingarino77

Calculating my #Klout now at #columsmc Social Media Conference! Thanks for tip@kathynjanicek

@FilmGye

#ColumSMC @kathrynjanicek She was great today. Such power and passion!

I have a lot of good friends in the media — come on — what other advice can we share??

The big barren fridge of busy bachelorette

September1

My best friend is coming to town in just days. This only happens once a year.

I don’t normally have company and I expect we’ll need to eat at some point… and being a good hostess — I’m suspecting I should have something in my fridge for my guest.

Isn’t that what’s expected of a good hostess? Isn’t that what we’re taught as women? I should be able to offer my guests whatever they need. Coffee, milk, an array of sweeteners… food.

And that’s going to be the problem.

No, not the coffee & sweeteners… but the milk and food. We’re talking ANY food. I can’t exactly treat her to hot sauce. Because I could – and that’s about it. At this point, I could whip her up:

  • a Bloody Mary with some of the best organic vodka
  • or a cup of coffee…
  • or a martini — but without the gin or olives. So really it would just be vodka on ice… which is fine for me, but some people prefer a martini with gin and a little olive juice.
  • I could also make a MEAN glass of Crystal Light – in an array of flavors.
  • There’s always the GNC chocolate protein shake… or the Trader Joe’s vanilla soy shake… yummm… now if that doesn’t say hospitality.
  • If we get really crazy, there’s the GNC chocolate protein shake blended with vanilla Svedka… oh so good.

So basically, I currently own: vodka, hot sauce, lime juice, tomato juice, sugar-free Red Bull, protein shake powder and ice.

Logging onto Peapod.com now. She only comes in town once a year… and I’d like Jenn to come back.

Clarity in the Chaos

June1

I still have mixed feelings about what went down yesterday.

I had one of those 12 hour days at the office (Blackberry blows up for at least 4 hours after that each day) – then off to Home Depot to put in an order for a few things… just a couple thousand dollars worth of wood flooring, molding, quarter-round and paint. Just a normal day for me…

Pulled up my car along the side of my building to unload a few ceiling light fixtures, bulbs, paint samples… again, just a normal day… and inside my condo I found my father. And, the place was a complete mess. Everything was torn apart. We’re talking: furniture pulled out, collections of spackle & cardboard pieces near each wall outlet, my old brass ceiling lighting fixtures on the floor, wires hanging from above my head, and my bed lingering in the middle of my bedroom like an island. Not to mention, the huge rolls of Polyfoam stacked near my treadmill and flooring padding stacked next to my piano that I picked up Saturday from HOBO.

He couldn’t have been there long… maybe a few hours… yet, the entire 750 square feet of space was completely turned over. He had a project in each and every inch of the place. I really don’t think it was just him there – it looked more like it was him and 5 tiny elves running amok in my sanctuary.

In all this chaos – clarity.

My father greeted me at the door – as my arms were overloaded with lighting fixtures, paint samples and a sample piece of molding — with a piece of my mail. I do not know if I even recognized it. He’s concerned. He saw the stacks of magazines, invites, coupons, newspapers, business cards, taxi receipts, post-its — intermingled with a random official notice or two – and amongst it all, my father found my Homeowner Taxpayer Exemption Booklet.

“I am concerned,” he says.

“I am concerned too… I didn’t sleep last night, and I don’t think I will again tonight, I’m now down 2 people on my staff tomorrow…”

“No – this is money,” he continues, “and it was due last month!”

In all that mess… the man found me a way to save money on my taxes. How is that possible? He also had a complete breakdown of the pros/cons of the new stock options my company was offering. I was not even aware I receive THAT piece of mail. At the exact moment he was telling me who to call and specifically what to ask for in order for me to gather the information I needed in order for me to make the decision … ALL I could think was:

“Oh my God, what else did he find? Did he go through my drawers? He moved my bed? What could have been down underneath there? In my closet? When was the last time I emptied my garbage? … Look like you’re paying attention… Seriously, what else could he have found?”

I took notes and nodded. I’ll make the calls.

Oh, and that’s not it… as he proceeded with installing a light fixture and discussing tax law, I walked into my bedroom to find the loads of clean laundry that once laid in heaps on my bed were neatly folded and stacked in piles now.

Then, as I reached my hand under a pile of pillow cases… surprise, confusion — and pure pleasure. The pile was WARM. Warm, as if they were just retrieved from the dryer. It’s been days… it’s not possible. I walked to the iron – which I had left out on the ironing board next to my bed weeks ago — and found it still red hot.

In all the spackling and electrical work… my father IRONED my pillow cases.

And for a man who at times, can be known for liking to brag about what he bought low or sold high… all he said in response: “You need to give YOURSELF a little time.”

He’s right.

I’m not sleeping on wrinkled pillow cases anymore. I deserve better.

Thank you Dad.

Can you help me find Agnes?

May15

I do not know who she is or whether she’s still alive, but I think about her each day.

From an old certificate, I know she had her First Holy Communion in St. Vincent de Paul’s Church in Chicago in May of 1922. On this day in May of 2011, her imprint still remains inside what is now my condo along Lake Michigan. Was she one of the first people to lean on the marble ledge with her tiny hands and gaze out of my window staring at the waves?

If she was seven on her First Communion in 1922, Ms. Agnes C. Disselhorst would be 96 years old today.

I do not know much about little Agnes, but I can tell her parents loved her. The certificates were cared for so well, they are still here almost 100 years later so I could discover them as I tore down a closet in my renovation project. Her parents also cared enough for their little daughter to give Agnes the gift of education. A certificate tells me Agnes attained “a degree of excellence in Palmer Method Muscular Movement Business Writing” in June of 1928. There is also a 1933 class photo from The Immaculata High School.

I look forward to reuniting these with the Disselhorst family, but I have been unable to find Agnes online. Did Agnes get married and become a journalist? Would I know her by her married name? I am eager to tell the end of the story.

Can you help me?

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Kathryn JanicekMorning Show Executive Producer for NBC Chicago, news addict, social media lead, traveler, romantic, songstress, runaway bride.. but there’s still hope!

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