On-air, Renee Murphy is known for being unflappable. She delivers the news with an oft-present warm, wide smile and confident demeanor that reassures viewers. The WHAS11 news anchor is also a tenacious go-getter with investigative skills respected around the community.
But the minute Murphy steps inside her Louisville home, she’s mother to Keefe, 3, and Katherine, 11 months, and wife to Keith, her high school sweetheart.
“We just celebrated our anniversary: 11 years of marriage, but we’ve been together 17,” Murphy said on a recent weekday as she sat on her couch, looking exactly as she appeared on that evening’s news, save for the slippers on her feet.
“For me, it’s Keith’s sense of humor. There’s no one funnier than him. You can’t stay mad at someone long when they’re that funny,” Murphy laughs, something she does often. “We’re very conscious of having that time together even if it’s just simple stuff like going to the movies and dinner.
He’s just a great supporter. Anything that I’ve wanted to do, he’s always been there and supported me. He believed in me far before anyone else did.”
Anyone except Murphy herself.
Long ago, she dreamed of being a home builder, but after spending a full day shadowing one, she realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do at all. A couple years later, Murphy saw Robin Roberts – who now co-hosts “Good Morning America” – broadcasting on ESPN. “I thought, ‘She looks like me kind of,’ ” recalled Murphy, who decided then and there she was going to work for the sports network, no matter how long it took to get her foot in.
During her senior year at Virginia Commonwealth University, Murphy decided it was time to go after her dream and dialed up the network’s headquarters in Connecticut. When no one answered, she tried again. And again. And again. “I called and I called and I called,” she chuckled.
She made more phone calls. Still nothing.
And then one day there was something: an invitation to apply to be a production assistant.
Murphy packed her car and drove to ESPN. “I got there, and I bombed the interview. I don’t think (they)said it was the worst interview, but it was the worst interview,” she laughed.
It also didn’t matter. “(They) told me (they) had never seen someone so determined to be a production assistant,” she said. And thus, began Murphy’s stint working for the national sports programming network fresh out of college.
Three months into the position, Murphy received a call from a small station in Greenville, Miss. They wanted to hire her as their weekend anchor.
“Clearly I had no idea what I was doing,” said Murphy, “but I was just like, ‘OK, cool I got this.’ … This was in 2000. They were still on typewriters right before I got there. I would not trade that experience for anything. That small market, that was my foundation and my core.”
A year later, Murphy moved to Youngstown, Ohio, where she stayed for two-and-a-half years.
Then, one day Murphy received a call out of the blue from WHAS11. “This just never happens. I still don’t know how (the Louisville station) found me.”
Murphy and her husband fell in love with Louisville and thought it would make a good “temporary” stop. Seven years later, they haven’t gone anywhere and have no plans to do so. “That amazing opportunity that I can’t turn down has not come around yet, and it’d take something really amazing to make me leave here,” she said.
Most days, Murphy gets out of bed around 6 a.m. “I get dressed as fast as I can.” Then it’s stops at school and the babysitters, before getting to the ABC affiliate downtown around 9 a.m. “I report, I anchor the noon show, then I run out on a story, put it together, anchor the 5:30 p.m. newscast and then it’s home to the kids,” she said.
Murphy stopped talking and laughed as her children toddled into the living to climb on her lap. Then she began again.
“I’m grateful and appreciative. I love it when I meet people and they want to get out of the car and hug me and I’ve never met them. It’s a great feeling to know we can effectively connect (to others),” she said. “But as soon as I’m home, I’m mommy and I’m wiping dirty noses.”
Husband Keith; son Keefe, 3; and daughter Katherine, 11 months.
My husband’s favorite place is Outback. I like to try more of the local places when I can convince him to try something different. I like the restaurants in Crescent Hill (like) Irish Rover, Seviche – all the great local places.
I’m pretty square. I’m still rocking my music from the ’90s. I think I kind of know what is on the radio (these days,) otherwise I’m just listening to NPR. I’m not really hip.
My favorite book was “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” I was bawling like a baby. … I loved “The Help” so much. I’m still looking at my Redbook magazine from last month.
Cats or Cards
We’re in Louisville so we can’t help but get excited … but we grew up cheering for Carolina.
Out ‘n’ about
If I go anywhere, I’m usually with my entourage – the kids. We like to go to the splash park or someplace that has an indoor playground. We just went to the book sale at the library. My son, God love him, he follows my heart and loves books.
I like it when we can dance together, whether it’s at a wedding or whatever. He’s a far superior dancer than I am. When we’re at a wedding, he is the star. I’m just trying to keep up.
I listen to Jay-Z, Biggie, Lauren Hill. I loved her music when she was very popular; she represented strong, dark women. I love the Fugees. If I do karaoke, I do (their version of) “Killing Me Softly.” It’s pretty awful, but it makes me happy. Sometimes, Keith and I do duets, but he’ll only do it if we’re on vacation and we’re out of town.
I love St. Stephen Church. It’s one of those great churches where you go and you just know you belong. That was St. Stephen for me. Pastor (Dr. Kevin Wayne) Cosby is a great teaching preacher. He just gets it. When you sit down and listen to his sermon, you won’t forget it. … He’s the best teaching preacher I’ve heard. You could listen to him in a barn and still feel the same spirit.
(The late WHAS11 reporter) Chuck Olmstead was great. He pulled me aside many times and would say, “Kid, let me tell ya.” (Former WHAS11 investigative reporter) Mark Hebert, I would always go to him with any kind of story issues. And (WHAS11 News Anchor) Rachel Platt. I go to her and it could be a story, it could be mommy issues. She is a great support. She’s just that person. … I could call her at 1 in the morning when she’s finally asleep and she would answer and just be amazing.
Category: The Profile
About the Author (Author Profile)
Angie Fenton is Managing Editor of The Voice-Tribune, a Blue Equity company. She is also an entertainment correspondent for WHAS11′s new morning show, “Great Day Live!”, which debuted August 22 on Louisville’s ABC affiliate. Additionally, Angie is an entertainment correspondent for the Saturday Morning Show with Ron ‘n’ Mel Fisher on 84WHAS (840 AM) and has served in the same capacity for Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks; Breeders’ Cup; and Circuit of the Americas during the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix in November 2012. Angie also serves as an emcee, host, voiceover professional and on-camera commercial talent.
Angie has a bachelor’s and master’s in English from Central Michigan University and began her career as an adjunct professor at her alma mater. She is the youngest of five — four of whom were adopted, including Angie, and none of whom are biologically related. She is also a Michigan native who moved to Kentucky in June 2002. Angie is owned by two dogs — Herbie and Yoda — and feels lucky to have loved and been loved by many more, including Pooch, Jessie, Onyx, Jack and Big Bud, who took his last breath on Christmas Day 2012.