If you noticed something familiar about the new morning personality over at ABC15, here’s why: She isn’t new. Before bolting the Valley in 1995 to work for the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, Connie Colla made memorable morning TV with Ron Hoon at KPNX/12. Back then, the Emmy-winning Scottsdale resident was a single, rising star. Now Colla, 46, returns to Phoenix as a married mother of two to anchor “ABC15 Mornings” from 4:30 to 7 a.m. weekdays – not new, but unmistakably fresh.
What brought you back to Arizona?
When you feel like you’ve had a big and full career, you get to a point where you look at your children and realize how fast they are growing and start to feel that every moment counts. I feel I did everything I wanted to do to prove I could be a good journalist. It was time to come home to the place that was my heart home. The people of Arizona have always been so kind to me. I love my church here and my community, and felt like this is where I wanted to raise my kids.
What was it like to return?
The Valley has grown tremendously. When I left there wasn’t even a Loop 101 freeway. I love that there are even more fabulous restaurants and there is great theater. I’m not missing any of that from Philly.
What was Philly like for you?
I loved Philadelphia. It was an incredible journey for me. I had so much opportunity for growth personally and in my career. I had the opportunity to do an evening magazine show, a cooking show (Connie in the Kitchen), anchor prime time news and be the national host for Comcast Network. I was one of only three journalists covering Bryant Gumbel’s last days of The Today Show, and I was there for 9/11. All of those things are moments I will never forget.
How did you get hooked on journalism?
I was a paper girl in Montana, where I grew up. It really was that moment in time that defined my future. I loved getting up in the morning… and getting on my purple bike with a floral banana seat and flinging those papers to people. I loved knowing the news no one else knew before anyone else knew it. It was really exciting for me.
During the past 25 years, you have interviewed hundreds of people. What was one of your most surprising interviews?
There was a huge action star that I had the opportunity to interview in the Valley. He was extremely short, which is just fine, but we were told we had to sit on stools and then he had to be shot on the right side. There were so many rules that it took all the fun out of it for me. He was the one person I thought would be fun to meet, and it turned out that he was so high maintenance that he wasn’t the person I thought he was. I was like, ‘Wow, seriously, this is Sylvester Stallone?’
Most embarrassing interview?
In Philly, I was holding an adorable puppy that was up for adoption and he threw up all over my shirt. It was like, ‘OK, we are going to take a break.’
You rode a bull in Phoenix and did stand up comedy in Philadelphia. What else is on your bucket list?
I’d like to own a vineyard in Tuscany and host a cooking show from there. Oh, and I’d like to write a spy novel.
What do you and your family like to do in your free time?
They get excited about hiking. They are always looking for mountain lions and snakes. My son says, ‘Mom, if we were still in Philadelphia, the only place we would be hiking would be on buildings.’