State your full name.
(laughter) This is an interrogation … Ron Corning. C-O-R-N-I-N-G.
Not Ronald? Not Ronnie?
It’s actually Ronald.
Originally you’re from?
Tell us a little bit about growing up in Calais, Maine.
What do I say about Calais? I think when I grew up there were maybe 5,000 people. Slightly less. 75 people in my graduating class. Maybe 350 in my high school. Working class mill town. You know, my dad … my dad worked in construction since he was 17 years old. Worked his way up. So you know, very working class, blue collar. Not a huge number of kids went to college. So sort of the odds were stacked against you for a full four-year college education. The odds are further stacked against you to leave the state and the odds are really stacked against you if you have some lofty idea that you’re gonna be, you know, a TV journalist or a broadcaster, so I kind of kept that to myself to be honest.
Well … and that’s actually the next question. Did you want to be an on-air journalist growing up?
I did. I was always inspired by that. But I seriously kept it to myself. I didn’t really share it with anybody because I thought I’d not be taken seriously.
What was your first job, ever?
First job was bagging groceries at the IGA. Summer of my 15th birthday… I actually take that back, my first job was the summer that I was 13, no 14, and we were still at the lake, but five miles away. There was a blueberry farm and I raked blueberries for four weeks in August.
How was that?
Brutal. They are low to the ground and you have what looks like a dustpan with prongs on it. And there’s an inverse handle and literally you’re down like this the entire time and you’re scraping up and then when you fill the rake you hold the rake up to the wind, and you let the wind kind of blow some of the leaves out into a bucket.
But later, this thing with TV, maybe still could happen?
Oh, it was always right there, but I entered school premed. Because I was very interested in science and medicine, and I thought that at least it was a reasonable thing that you shared with people that you were gonna go off to premed and maybe be a doctor or be a dentist. The idea of doing better in my hometown was to become a professional. Lawyer, doctor, dentist – sort of standard. So I went off with that. But in the back of my head, I was thinking, hmm …And actually, the spring before I graduated from high school … and as I was making a decision where I was going to school, I was at an orientation and went to a workshop … and I was sitting there and they used as an example about how Wheaton was a liberal arts school and they wanted you to study your education – something that interested you academically. And then they would help you connect the dots and see how that translated into an occupation or into a field. And they’d help with internships to kind of connect the dots. And they literally used as an example a girl who was a psychology student who was interested in journalism and got an internship with CBS News in Washington with Lesley Stahl who was an alum of the school. And right there it sort of dawned on me. … So I started at school, doing some stuff with the sociology department. They had a documentary film course so I started taking that. Then based on some stuff I shot on my own I put a tape together and got my first internship at the NBC station in Providence, Rhode Island. That was it. I was in the door.
So, let’s fast-forward, Dallas, Big D…
Well, you know, it’s been kind of an interesting road here. I moved around the local markets. I got a seminational job on The Buzz, then I get recruited for ABC and then I was hosting “Good Day, New York” for the FOX affiliate.
So what do you think about Dallas, the station?
It’s great. It’s interesting when you work with people who’ve worked here forever. This place is top-notch.
Your favorite place to hang out in Dallas so far?
… I don’t want to sound cliché. I like the new Gloria’s at Lemmon and Cole. It’s close to home. It’s a place you can take people when they come to town and you want to show them Tex-Mex … but it’s more modern. I’m kind of a foodie, I guess.
Is there a place you haven’t seen yet but you want to?
I’ve done a lot already. I think I want to try out the BBQ scene. I’ve been to Fort Worth, I’ve been to the stockyards. Been to Southfork, been to the book depository museum. You know, I think there’s a lot to be offered in terms of art and culture. The museums I definitely want to explore.
What’s the best part of the job? Except the hours.
[sarcastically] Oh, the hours of course by far are the best! The best part is that I get the sense that this is a show that the station has really rallied around and they’ve entrusted us to just be who we are and do our thing and watch it take shape. It’s not very often that you have a platform like this. Where they’re just willing to sort of let it be organic to a certain degree.
Nap? Or Red Bull?
Ohhh, a nap, always a nap! I choose a nap over everything else. Honestly, there’s nothing better to me than sleep. Even when I worked regular hours. Just by nature I’m a napper. I’ve always believed in it.
Is it crazy waking up that early?
You hope that people in the morning give you a little bit of leeway because they know you’re operating on five hours of sleep. It’s not normal, it’s kinda grueling to get up at that hour but that’s the trade-off.
Okay, now the fun stuff. If you were a superhero, what would your special power be?
Who doesn’t want to fly? Especially with the traffic around here.
What’s my guilty pleasure … I could watch Chopped and talk for days about it.
And if you were a dog, which breed would you be?
I’d want to be Oprah’s cocker spaniels. Not just any particular breed, but her cocker spaniel.
Ron Corning, the movie. Who plays Ron Corning?
Someone slightly stupid and a little goofy? Who’s a younger Tom Hanks?
Three words about Ron Corning. Go.
Here I am.