Before it had Cops or America’s Most Wanted, Fox had Penny Crone – the tough-talking, microphone-thrusting fixture of the local news. In her fourteen years at Channel Five, she terrified politicians and pedestrians alike with her infamously raspy voice – but she also earned something of a cult following. Earlier this month, Crone moved from Fox to CBS, and after years of hearing her unrelenting questions – “Sir, do you realize that you’re jay-walking?” – we decided to ask her a few of our own.
Why the move to CBS?
Everybody’s saying that I followed the Yankees there. I haven’t seen Derek yet, but I will be calling him – we always have this thing that we’re going to go out.
How has your job changed since September 11?
You know, I lost a lot of friends, so it’s difficult for me to talk about it. You never want to forget it, but you still have to cover every story. Crone begins to cry. Anyway, let’s hope the food comes soon, so we can talk about something else.
You were a big Giuliani supporter. What do you think about Mayor Bloomberg?
I give him a year before he quits.
You think Bloomberg’s going to quit?
Yeah, I think he hates it. He goes away on the weekends, he likes playing golf. Did you see that mansion in Bermuda? Forget about it! And who’s living in Gracie Mansion?
Let’s talk about Greta Van Susteren – and the pressures on women in TV news to look a certain way.
I won an Emmy for a five-part story called “The Fountain of Youth.” At the end, the audience had to vote on whether I should get a face-lift. The vote was, like, 51 to 49 not to do it. They said they got more phone calls on that than on the Gulf War. But will I do it eventually? Probably. Why, do you think I need it?
You’re known for some of your on-air faux pas …
I guess the worst was Yogi Berra. It was the day when Billy Martin died, and I went to Yogi Berra’s house in New Jersey. I said, “I’m sitting here with the great Yogi Bear.” I walked into the newsroom and everybody was going, “Hey, Boo Boo! How’s Jellystone?”
So, tell me about your relationship with one of your favorite interview subjects, Howard Stern.
After he wrote his first book, I asked him, “Howard, if you’re so smart that you can write a book, how would you get David Koresh out of that Branch Davidian compound?”
And he said, “Penny, I’d pipe your voice in there, and they’d all run out on their own.” And we hit it off. With Howard, you either hate him or love him. Kind of the way people think of me.