You see them on TV and listen to them on the radio. Their faces and voices are recognized, respected, criticized and even adored, but out of the studio, these neighborhood stars are not so different from us — they exercise, stuff their faces, idolize heroes, love their kiddos, and dream of faraway places. And despite their high-profile jobs, they don’t take themselves too seriously.

 

Brendan Higgins: NBC-Ch. 5 “Today” anchor

How did you end up in broadcast?
I went to North Texas, and I was playing in a rock band. I really didn’t know what I was going to do — I guess I thought I was going to be a rock star. One of my friends was in broadcast, and he suggested I try out to be a DJ on the school radio station. So I did, and I ended up liking it and sticking with broadcast.
 
What has been one of your career highlights?
The most overwhelming was covering the (New York) Yankees’ World Series parade. There were 3 million people in Lower Manhattan for this ticker-tape parade; it was like being in a movie.
If you hadn’t been a TV reporter, what would you have been?
I probably would have been a lawyer. I think there are some parallels between journalism and some types of law. I just decided against it because I figured there were enough lawyers — plus, I didn’t want to go back to school.

Are there any causes or charities that are near and dear to your heart?
Yes, I grew up attending Christ the King, and I’m still involved there. For the past several years, I’ve been a caseworker for their St. Vincent de Paul program. I go out to homes and work with people who need emergency assistance. I enjoy it because you get to immediately help people; there’s not a lot of red tape in what we do. You get see the stress melt away as you help keep them from getting evicted, get their electricity turned back on, or fill their refrigerator with groceries.  

Where are we likely to find you on in the neighborhood?
I grew up hanging out around the Preston Royal shopping centers. In fact, when I was going to Hillcrest High School, I bagged groceries at that Tom Thumb, and sometimes I still go back there to shop. I’m also a big fan of Purple Cow — my kids really enjoy that place — and Popolo’s is great, too.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?
My sons and I play rock music together. My younger son is like a prodigy on the drums, and my older son is an amazing guitar player. I’m more a utility player; I can do a little bit of everything.

Really? Tell us some of your favorite bands.
The Burden Brothers, Arcade Fire and Band of Horses.

James Chippendale: NBC-Ch. 5 “Last Call” host

How did you end up in broadcast?
I founded CSI Entertainment Insurance, which provides insurance for many different things but mostly nightclubs and the hospitality businesses. I started an entertainment division for small to medium events, and we now do more than 2,500 events across the country. Because of that, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of celebrities — so that eventually led to talks with NBC 5 to host “Last Call”, which is about what famous people do when they are here in Dallas. The show airs Sunday nights as part of the “Out of Bounds” segment. I didn’t get the $2 million signing bonus or clothing allowance I asked for, but I still really enjoy it.
 
OK, drop some names of celebrities you’ve met.
I’ve met Beyonce, I know Chris Martin from Coldplay, I’m good friends with Sarah McLachlan, Ludacris is one of my clients — and we were involved in President Obama’s inauguration, so I got about a foot away from him, but I didn’t actually get to meet him. I was also at the Tour de France when Lance Armstrong won for the seventh time; that was a definite highlight of my life.

And what have been some of the highlights of your show “Last Call” here in Dallas?
I got to get in the ring with [boxer] Luis Yanez and have him make a fool out of me, which was fun. I also got into the rink with the Dallas Derby Devils. The highlight was definitely the dog pile with 30 Dallas Derby Devils. I also got to meet [musician and actor] Tricky with the Massive Attack, who is my idol. It was so cool to meet someone that I idolize and to find out he’s such a great, down-to-earth guy. You put these celebrities on a pedestal, so it’s refreshing when you learn they are humble people.

So what has it been like being on TV?
Well, it’s certainly fed my gigantic monster ego, which is great. Neighbors around here have started to recognize me, and some are taking note and tell me how much they enjoy the show. It’s been really rewarding in that sense.

What drew you to Preston Hollow?
I like the uniqueness of this neighborhood. Most of the homes where I live are older ’50s homes with a contemporary style; we don’t have any mansion syndrome here. And the larger lots are great, too. I can be at D/FW airport in 15 minutes; I can be in Uptown in 15 minutes; I can be Downtown in 15 minutes; yet I can still retreat here to my sanctuary on my big comfy lot.

Where are we likely to find you in the neighborhood?
I’m not married, and I don’t have any kids — Preston Hollow is not super-conducive to the single lifestyle, so I do venture out on Saturday nights. But if it’s not a Saturday night, I’m likely somewhere in the Lovers-Inwood area. I love all those little shops. I especially like Tempest Tea, Inwood Lounge, Shinsei, Fireside Pies and Mango, for Thai food.

Are there any causes or charities that are near and dear to your heart?
The cancer charity I co-founded, the Love Hope Strength Foundation. I was treated for leukemia a few years back. And when Mike Peters from The Alarm was also diagnosed with leukemia, a mutual friend put us in touch. Because I had been through it, we could relate to each other on a whole other level. We decided to start this foundation to help other people with cancer in developing countries. For example, in Nepal people live on less than a dollar a day, so something like cervical cancer will kill them, even though that cancer has an 80 percent survivability rate. The people we help often don’t know what cancer is, much less how to detect it, or have resources to fight it. We will send equipment to people out in these villages, or we’ll even send nurses out in a van to go do early detection testing in those remote areas.

How does it feel to be helping people who are facing the same disease you overcame?
It’s hard to describe how helping other people makes me feel. I guess it makes me feel like all I went through was worth it, like it was meant to be this way.

Tracy Rowlett: CBS-Ch. 11 retired anchor and managing editor

How did you end up in broadcast?
I got into news work because of a high school English teacher who wanted me to try journalism — so I did, and I loved it. I actually started my professional career in print as a sports reporter. When I served in the Air Force, I was editor of our base newspaper, but I had the opportunity to cross-train into broadcast. I was stationed in Tripoli [Libya] when Kennedy was assassinated, so I broke the news to that part of the world. That was an amazing time of history. It was that moment that really convinced me to switch over to broadcast. Since then, I’ve interviewed every U.S. president from LBJ to George W. Bush. It’s been a marvelous career.  

You retired from broadcast about a year ago. What has that been like?
It’s been wonderful. We have an autistic son, so now I have more time to spend time with my family, which I didn’t have before. I’m also considering teaching at SMU, but I’m not in any rush to find a job.

If you hadn’t been a TV reporter, what would you have been?
I almost went to law school. That was the career path running parallel to journalism. But by the time I graduated from college, I was earning $141 per week at a local radio station, and who could turn down that kind of money?

Where are we likely to find you in the neighborhood?
Ruggeri’s, that’s one of the great places, and Sushi City, that’s another good one. We shop at all the neighborhood places, like Dougherty’s. We’re familiar with all four corners at Preston-Royal.

If we were to look on your nightstand right now, what books would we find there?
I’m reading “A Dark and Bloody Ground”, which is about the little-known World War II story of the Hürtgen battle. I’m also reading “Battle Cry of Freedom”, which is about the Civil War. I’m a bit of a history buff, but I also enjoy fantasy books because those are always good escapes. Charles Dickens is my favorite, though — now that I have some more free time, I want to read everything he’s written. I have a Kindle, so I’ve downloaded everything by him.

What would people be surprised to find out about you?
I enjoy photography. I was just telling my wife, Jill, that I want to get my camera and go out to Palo Duro Canyon. Georgia O’Keefe did a lot of her early work there. People might enjoy seeing me out riding my lawn tractor with my gimme cap at our East Texas lake house. I’m a regular retired gentleman.
 

 

 


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Preston Hollow.