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Cat Greenleaf was a broken-hearted Boston University coed when she fled America for Bangalore, India to work at one of Mother Teresa’s orphanages. Since leaving Asia to finish her degree in Brazil, Cat’s eclectic journey consists of non-profit work, interning at age 27, challenges with traffic reporting, covering September 11 live in New York City, celebrating NYC as a features reporter for WNBC and adopting a son. Recently, Cat realized her dream of hosting a talk show by taking it upon herself to launch “Talk Stoop” – a popular feature seen on WNBC, “Today in New York” and by over one million Big Apple cab riders each week. Her recent guests include Rosie Perez and Ziggy Marley.
Growing up, Cat thought she’d eventually find herself in a service role helping people. Thinking that was in the non-profit sector, Cat turned a college break-up into an opportunity to “get off the continent” for experiential learning in underprivileged areas of the globe. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Cat moved to San Francisco to work for Catholic Charities.
When she was 27 years old, Cat realized that she hadn’t yet identified her career passion and regrouped. What she really enjoyed was the local San Francisco morning program, “Mornings on 2,” so she joined the station as an intern, eventually becoming a fill-in producer.
Cat’s next job was a radio station traffic reporter where she flew above the city to keep tabs on the San Francisco roads. Unfortunately, Cat had no sense of direction, identifying the roads using landmarks. This worked while the days were long; however, as the days got shorter and darkness came earlier, Cat sought other opportunities.
After returning to the east coast, Cat accepted another traffic reporter job at NY1, a 24-hour news channel focusing on New York City. When she covered September 11 on-air, Cat realized for the first time that her traffic job was important. It was at that moment that Cat decided to pursue a news role where she could be more impactful. She decided her goal was to host her own talk show.
While at NYC TV, a city-owned station, Cat found her groove as a feature correspondent where she hosted and produced several programs for the station, including “On the Prowl with Cat Greenleaf.”
Currently, Cat serves as features reporter for WNBC, providing human-interest reports for the station’s highest-rated morning program, “Today in New York” as well as the local show, “Weekend Today.”
During her rise in broadcast journalism, Cat met and married Michael Rey, a producer for CBS News. They reside in a townhouse with a stoop on a beautiful block in Brooklyn; a life, incidentally, that Cat envisioned herself living. Still desiring her own talk show, Cat’s neighborhood inspired her to pitch a feature called “Talk Stoop” to WNBC’s New York Nonstop who, incidentally, gave Cat the thumbs-up based on the title alone. During “Talk Stoop,” Cat conducts interviews with New Yorkers on her front steps.
Cat’s “Talk Stoop” viewers include those who tune in to WNBC on TV and online, as well as over one million taxi passengers each week who ride in 5,000 of New York City’s NBC-owned television-equipped cabs.
Admittedly, Cat’s most important role is also her latest – new mom to 14 week-old adopted son Nicholas. According to Cat, being a mom “is delicious.” She and Michael are navigating the dual-career, new parent waters and mastering how to juggle life with a baby.
What we learned from Cat: “Become an intern if you have the opportunity and can afford it. You’ll get to learn how to do everything. If you’re an older intern like I was, it’s empowering and you’ll get more out of it because of your life experience. In addition to the learning piece, there’s no substitute for life experience, so get out there and talk to people and learn about the world.”
Don’t Just Dream About It…
“My advice to female entrepreneurs is that you will never know what you can do if you just dream about it. There are 24 hours in the day, so put enough time and effort toward your goal to see if it works. I realized that if I was going to have a talk show, I had to take it upon myself to make it happen. ‘Talk Stoop’ is a dream come true for me.”
Live and Learn
“Learn all you can. Gain experience and find your niche. To learn more about news, I attended reporter school through the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, NY. I had to learn how to do it all because Long Island News Tonight’s stories are all done by the students. I threw a professional camera over my shoulder and headed out to the mall as a live, on-air reporter. I learned to listen for the sound bite. I had to be a one man band – write, report and shoot the story. It was challenging, but really prepared me for the real world of broadcasting.”
How Was Your Day?
“Being in the same industry as my husband, we completely understand when the other has had a long day, or is obsessed with a story. It’s not exactly the same, though, because I’m in front of the camera and Michael is behind the camera. Also, we’re juggling work and being new parents right now. I leave early and am home in the afternoon, while Michael leaves later for work. You have to figure out what works for you. I have a great life.”