When TV news anchor Susan Siman ’87 Marcou of Madison, WI, got the call from CBS News in New York that she’d be part of a report by Katie Couric on the Wisconsin floods in June, she called upon her forensics training from her days at North Central College. It was exciting and frightening all at once, she admits.
“It all happened very spontaneously–there was no time to prepare,” she says of the June 10 national news broadcast. “It was (Professor of Speech Communication/Theatre) Richard Paine who prepared me for it, and I was hoping that maybe he was watching that night and that he would have been proud of one of his former students.”
If Paine had watched, he might’ve noticed that her last name had been shortened from Simanaitis to Siman at the suggestion of her first boss in the broadcast news business, “because my name sounded like a disease,” she says.
As evening news anchor at WISC-TV in Madison, Siman has experienced a busy summer, covering severe flooding in Wisconsin locations like Gays Mills and Lake Delton, which burst from its banks and drained into the Wisconsin River. One work day she spent in a motor boat, surveying damage and reporting. On other less eventful days, she covered stories like the presidential candidates’ visits to Madison.
Siman’s path to North Central started at Syracuse University, where she pursued a journalism major. In her junior year, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and returned to her family’s Naperville home for treatment and recovery. She decided to complete her English major and degree at North Central and soon realized it was the best decision she’d ever made.
“I joined the forensics team and it changed my life,” she says. “The skills I use every day in my job, I learned from forensics. How to think on your feet and be informative and persuasive—I learned it all from Richard Paine. All aspiring journalists should participate in forensics.”
After graduation, Siman took her first job in Rhinelander, WI, and later moved to a television station in Champaign, IL. Her career path has included news reporting, anchoring a morning show and now anchoring evening newscasts at 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. She’s been in Madison for 15 years and finds that “it’s a great place to live, a lot like Naperville.”
Her only regrets are changing her name and not finding her way to North Central sooner. “I wish I’d never changed my name; it’s a part of who I am and you have to always be proud of who you are,” she says. “And I wish I’d gone to North Central all four years.”
Siman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Central NOW Fall 2008