If you're wondering if you might have spied Fox 2 News reporter Deena Centofanti standing in line next to you at the grocery store, your eyes probably aren't playing tricks on you.
|Centofanti and son Casey in the family's Lake Orion home.|
Centofanti has called Orion Township her home since she and her husband Keith moved here in 1997, so they could be close to both her job at Fox 2 in Southfield and Keith's at a station in Flint. Centofanti's husband has since become the vice president of creative services at Fox 2.
"In 1997 I started anchoring the weekday mornings show at Fox 2," Centofanti said. "After a management change, I was reassigned to the weekend morning show and a few years later, they asked me how I felt about being a health reporter."
Centofanti has been working the health/medical beat for Fox 2 since, bringing Deena's Health Works to the weeknight broadcast at 5, 6 and 10 p.m.; and also works on health-related Problemsolver investigations. With two small children at home, the schedule is ideal for her.
"I have two days off during the week," said Centofanti, who is mom to son Casey, 4 1/2, and daughter Ellie, 2. "It's a good fit for our family. On the weekends, I get up at 4:45 a.m. and try to get into the station by 6."
Centofanti received her training for broadcast journalism in her native Ohio, where she graduated from Miami University in Oxford, OH with a bachelor of science in mass communication. She worked for several different TV stations in Ohio before coming to Detroit.
She met her husband when they were both working as production assistants for a station in Columbus, Ohio.
"I moved to Lake Orion from Columbus," she said. "I always wanted to go into broadcast journalism...my mother is very compassionate, and my father is a good storyteller. I think that's where it came from."
Although they could relocate to Southfield now that they are both at Fox 2, Centofanti said she and Keith are too attached to Lake Orion now.
"We've considered moving, but we like it here so much," she said. "This is where we've made our home."
Like many other residents, Centofanti likes the combination of small town and suburb amenities that Lake Orion offers.
"It's the best of both worlds," she said. "We have a little bit of everything."
Centofanti attended high school in a suburb of Cincinnati called Turpen, after growing up in a suburb of Cleveland. Her father worked in management for a machine tool company, and her mother was a homemaker.
"We don't have any journalists in the family," she said. "My first on-air job, I got paid $12,000 a year. My parents said 'We consider this another step in your education,' and they helped me with my car payment.
"They've been very supportive," Centofanti said. "They'd have been happy with anything I decided to do."
Although she has to sacrifice some of her weekend time, Centofanti enjoys being available during the week to spend time with her kids.
"That's been great for me," she said. "I do all the field trips (for Casey's preschool)."
She doesn't have much free time, and when she does she she likes to spend it with her children, but Centofanti also has an eye for photography.
"I love it," she said. "I hope to have more free time eventually, my kids are at pretty demanding ages right now."
When asked what she enjoys most about her job, Centofanti doesn't hesitate to say "making a difference."
"We're the Problemsolver station, and we don't take that lightly," she said. "We just did a story about a 3-year-old girl who needed surgery, and viewers helped raise $20,000 that her insurance wouldn't cover.
"We really do strive to make a difference," said Centofanti. "That makes me feel good at the end of the day."
Centofanti has also enjoyed being a health reporter, something she calls another "good fit" for her.
"I feel like it's so important, the health of our kids," she said. "Our health is something so much in our control, and that's the message we're always trying to see home."
Centofanti's children don't find it unusual anymore to see mom on TV.
"My son asks daddy why he isn't on TV," she said. "(Casey) doesn't think a thing of it."
She is still getting used to be recognized when she is out and about in the community.
"Sometimes it's kind of uncomfortable," she said. "I'll have a baseball cap and no makeup...and I bet they are thinking 'Wow, she looks a lot better on TV.'"
Like other residents, Centofanti was "devastated" about the fire at Sagebrush Cantina, a place she called a "favorite hangout."
"To see history go up in flames was very sad," she said. "But it's good to see what spirit and determination have come out of it."
Next year Casey will start kindergarten.
"Lake Orion has great schools," Centofanti said. "It's part of why we like it here, we feel like our kids are safe."
Looking back over her career, Centofanti remembers a lot of faces and some of the fun experiences along the way.
"I was supposed to be an extra on "Ally McBeal," she said. "I was out there on a media junket. I was supposed to be in a background shot, dancing.
"My parents called everyone," she laughed. "We were there for eight hours filming that scene...I never made it on the show, but that was a fun little adventure."
Centofanti also was able to travel to Washington, DC to cover the impeachment proceedings against former President Bill Clinton.
"That was fascinating," she said. "It's been good. The big trips to the everyday stories. I've met people that have had an impact."
Centofanti said she's never regretted becoming a broadcast journalist, but if she had to chose something else, she'd try photography.
"I'd like to photograph children," she added.
Deena Centofanti of Fox 2 News will do a meet and greet on May 21 in Downtown Lake Orion for the Mystery Tour of Art and Fine Wine, 6-9:30 p.m.; kicking off the annual Flower Fair, May 22-23.
Lisa has been a staff writer and sports editor for The Review since June, 1999. A graduate of Oakland University, she has won several Michigan Press Association awards for writing and photography during her career in Lake Orion. She currently resides in Oxford.