She’s been the face of the Boston daily news for fourteen years. She serves on the board of First Literacy, promoting literacy to greater Boston. She also serves on the board of Big Sister, developing positive relationships and mentorships with young girls in the hopes of fostering life changing relationships. Lisa Hughes is one of the most prominent, and recognizable, faces of the many people that make Boston special.
She grew up in a quiet town in Moscow, Idaho raised by two English teachers in a house that praised the value of reading and writing. Lisa naturally acquired a love and appreciation for stories. As a child she appreciated the news and her curiosity in people and community was innate. Despite her father’s position on the faculty at Washington State University, she began studying broadcast journalism at the University of Washington.
Courtney: What attracted you to pursuing a career in journalism?
Lisa: I was always interested in people. I loved watching the news as a kid. My parents were both English teachers so there was a lot of reading and writing in the house and the idea of having a career in which every day was a little different where you were always meeting people who could teach you more about something was appealing. A city like Boston is a wonderful place to do news. It’s the best place in the country because so much happens here. If you’re a curious person and you’re inspired by innovation and arts and culture, and music and government, this is really the place to be. For someone who is curious about the world and really enjoys telling stories, I can’t imagine a better city than Boston.
CP: Your career hit a major milestone when you moved to the Seattle in 1995 and won an Emmy for a Hard News Story. What was that experience like?
LH: It was very exciting. It was the first major award that I had won and it was on a story that was a particular interest to me. I worked with a photographer I loved, so everything came together in a
really nice way. It seems like it was a long time ago but I remember how exciting it was.
CP: How did you get involved in broadcast journalism?
LH: I studied at the University of Washington Seattle. I declared my major and took classes and did stories for television and radio and then my first job was in Coos Bay, Oregon. If you drew a line straight across the country, it’s the small market on the southern Oregon Coast. There I shot my own video and edited my own stories and wrote all my own copy. So it was a great experience. Those were long hard days and I look back on it and it was so valuable.
CP: Your career took off on the Pacific Coast, and then you made the cross coastal leap. What would you say are the defining differences from your experience living on the West and the East coast?
LH: Defining differences are that Boston is such an interested market, people here really pay attention to news. They are very well spoken, their opinions are founded on what they’ve read and seen. There are a lot of people that are smart on the West Coast, but Boston is unique in its attention to news and interesting current events more so than any place I’ve ever worked.
CP: In your first year with WBZ-TV, Boston Magazine awarded you Best Newcomer and Improper Bostonian awarded you Best News Anchor. Boston instantly took to you. How did you feel at first about the city?
LH: Someone told me, “Know what you don’t know.” Which taught me, don’t act like you know something and get caught. I feel so at home here and I felt at home here immediately. So I rely on a lot of smart people I work with to show me the ropes in town and spend a lot of time with charities and non-profit organizations, learning the lay of the land. So I think I was a bit intimidated but very excited to be here and wanted to be a part of this community that I just jumped in with both feet and relied on others to help me understand the city that I was now calling home.
CP: What was it like interviewing President Obama for the 2014 Boston Marathon?
LH: We put in the request months earlier. We wanted to see what his message was before the 2014 Boston Marathon, and about a week before, the White House called and said, “Yes, he wants to talk. He wants to talk about both praise and encouragement.” So we went the Friday before the marathon, I believe Friday April 18th and it was great. I’d been to the White House many times but had never interviewed the president, certainly not one on one. When he talked about how strong the city was it made me proud all over again about what the city was able to do between the 2013 marathon and this year’s race. It was a great tribute to the race to hear the president reinforcing that.
CP: What are some of the most memorable events in Boston that you’ve covered?
LH: I love to cover Fourth of July on the Esplanade. I love working that night. Covering the Democratic National Convention was a great experience. Covering all of the victory parades. Being in St. Louis when the Red Sox won the World Series, then being in Denver when they won in 2007 was surreal and wonderful. And honestly, interviewing families both in the PMC and Children’s hospital. You realize that people overcome so many difficult challenges and to hear their stories always put you in touch with what’s best in humanity.
We did a story on Lou Pasquale, a World War II vet who turns eighty-eight this month and he has dedicated his life to helping people, including other veterans. Lou is raising money to buy vans for veterans who need to get to medical appointments. Spending time with someone like that is a gift. It’s gratifying to share those stories but it means a lot to hear them too because they realize that they have a great deal of control in what they do for others and themselves.
CP: You have a husband and raise two beautiful children. How do you juggle the daily news and the everyday attention required of being a mom and a wife?
LH: Not needing a lot of sleep, drinking a lot of coffee and loving both of those jobs very much. I get to spend mornings with my son and daughter and I come to work at 2pm and I’m home at midnight so it’s a very full day but it’s a very rewarding day and I wouldn’t trade any part of it for anything. I’m also training for my 4th Pan-Mass challenge for weekends and early in the morning.
CP: What is something you love to do that most people don’t know about you?
LH: I love to cook. I only get to do it a couple nights a week, but I love to do it when I can. I have dozens of cookbooks and I love to try new recipes. I’m always tearing new recipes out of magazines and newspapers and trying to make different things with various successes.