I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s dancing to celebrate Alix Kendall’s 20th anniversary on Fox 9’s “Buzz” the end of this month.
She was there at the beginning, when the station’s call letters were KMSP, the show was called “Good Day, Minnesota” and her co-anchor was Tim Sherno.
“Wow. It just blew by — no, it didn’t,” she laughed uproariously. “Sometimes I feel like I’ve been in something of a time warp. It doesn’t seem possible. When I think about all the things that have happened and different incarnations of the show, I can see, yeah, it’s a lot of history, a lot of people, changes, fun. I’ve been really lucky.”
A Children’s Theatre Company actor before switching to broadcasting, Kendall had her first jobs way off camera.
Part 1 of our interview starts with a serious question about her time at CTC during its most controversial period. In Part 2, we laugh about how she has trouble getting along with zoological guests on the “Buzz.” She makes the animals nervous, perhaps because she’s nervous around them. The funniest animal scenes often happen off-camera, unlike her experience with that Vespa (that will be highlighted in my video with her). And we talk about “The Friday Day Off,” because that’s what viewers want to discuss when they see Kendall around town.
Q: You are an alum of the Children’s Theatre Company but you didn’t experience any of the sex abuse that resulted in charges in the 1980s that continue to be the subject of litigation to this day?
A: Well, I know a number of people who were sexually abused. I won’t name their names because I think they should speak for themselves. But I was definitely there, and you kind of heard things. It was so sad, and I was so disgusted and upset. I was a kid, in middle school, in an unconventional environment. Boys and girls — I later learned girls were abused — were treated differently, for sure.
At that time girls were referred to as “Betty” or “Vera” [instead of their names] by CTC artistic director John [Clark] Donahue, which I think was kind of his way of demeaning girls. In hindsight, I can see a lot of grooming was happening, but a lot of it I didn’t understand. My heart goes out to all the people who were victims.
But there also was this huge, wonderful, creative community. I probably got the best training there, especially for this business — all different kinds of dance and vocal training, acting, improvisation.
I don’t want to take away from the other people there teaching, but there was a much darker side. CTC was a huge part of my life. I was there for five years. When I left I felt like I needed to take a break. I wasn’t sure that was the direction I wanted to go. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to pursue theater.
Q: Were you interviewed by police investigators?
Q: How did you find out police were snooping around in public records to find out information about you?
A: I was tipped off by someone who was aware of abuses within the Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services database.
Q: What would this Alix tell young Alix?
A: Be a little kinder to myself. I’ve had bad shows, and I think I handle it better now. I had an interview many years ago with Jesse Ventura. I learned some valuable information — be prepared.
And I thought I was prepared at that point, but sometimes something comes up that is so unexpected that you have to know your [stuff]. You know what? I left that day not feeling good about it, wanting to crawl into a hole, but you can’t.
Q: How did you end up on TV?
A: I started out in an unconventional way. I started out [on radio] playing classic hits in a small town, doing a lot of different formats, mostly classic hits. But I did public radio, pop radio, light music, I traveled quite a bit. I think I was in the business about seven years before I even got into TV. My very last radio job was in Minneapolis at KLXK-FM, now known as 93X.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.