In sixth grade in West Caldwell, N.J., a suburb of New York City.
When you graduated from high school, what did you think you wanted to be as an adult?
A sports play-by-play broadcaster.
Was there an event in the last 20 years that had a great impact on your aspirations and/or career path?
In Knoxville, Tenn., I did an investigative story about the Department of Children’s Services’ taking a little boy from his parents and brother days after being born. A doctor had accused the parents of abusing their baby. Five years later, after much legal battling and new testimony, it was determined the boy was never abused. Instead, he suffered a rare stroke just after he was born. The boy was returned to his parents and brother, who missed out on the first five years of being together. This story reinforced every reason I got into local television news and helped make me think even bigger about how to make a difference on daily basis.
Where/what do you want to be 20 years from now?
There is a lot of moving around in the television news business. It is rare to be as happy at a station like Fox59 and in a city like Indianapolis as I am—and so I really don’t think about 20 years from now and am just focused on the near future of making our news organization even more successful.
News Director, WXIN-TV Channel 59
Since arriving in Indianapolis in January 2009, Lee Rosenthal has WXIN-TV Channel 59 moving full speed ahead, adding news programs, increasing viewership, and—a first for the station—having the top-rated morning show. For the past two years, Fox59 has been among the top-rated Fox affiliates in the country.
The upbeat, energetic news director came to Indy from CBS affiliate WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, where he was an executive producer. He credits Fox59’s talented, hard-working newsroom staff for the surging ratings. He estimates he works 10 hours a day, more if major news is unfolding.
“With smart phones and iPads, you’re always plugged in; it’s hard to not be,” said Rosenthal, who grew up outside New York City in West Caldwell, N.J.
A broadcast journalism major at Syracuse University, Rosenthal has been a reporter, anchor, producer, and executive producer at stations in Binghamton, N.Y.; Tampa, Fla.; and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, he’s worked for three CBS stations, an ABC affiliate and now at Fox.
He intended to work in sports, following in the footsteps of Syracuse alums like Bob Costas and Mike Tirico. He soon learned that there are many more opportunities in television news than sports.
“My goals have always been to make a difference, do good work, have a good career and lifestyle,” said Rosenthal, a self-described golf fanatic who is getting married in March. “I’m very much enjoying what I’m doing now.”
He helped form a partnership between Fox59 and the Little Red Door Cancer Agency. The station does stories year-round about people the agency serves, often with a tie-in to the agency or how viewers can help. Recently, Rosenthal accepted a three-year position on the agency’s board of directors.
“I’m not one of these people who can be involved in 20 different things,” he said. “I like to give it my all.”•