Danya Artimisi’s passion for broadcasting led to a career switch from social work to TV news last year.
Currently the assignment desk editor for News 4 This Morning on KMOV, Artimisi had worked at local rock radio stations since 1998, when she was a student at the Broadcast Center.
“One of my teachers was on a morning show, and brought me on, and I was employed in radio from then on,” she said.
St. Louis stations The Rock, The Point, The Mall, The River, Y98 and KEZK are part of her on-air resume. A music enthusiast from an early age, she continued to be connected, even as a school social worker in the Granite City School District.
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“My big-girl job was in social work. That’s what I did for 10 years. But broadcasting was my passion. I loved working in radio. I loved the people, working the crowds at events,” she said. “The radio industry is really hurting right now. I saw an opportunity.”
The leap to morning news in September 2015 has been fulfilling, she said.
Although she has worked different tasks and hours, presently she is either writing news, assigning or editing.
Her duties include tracking crime. She listens to police scanners, makes calls and confirms reports. She determines whether to employ a photographer or launch a chopper for aerial shots, and see what pieces require video or live shots from the Skycam network. She’ll determine where to report from and send a reporter out in the field. She’ll map out the day.
“I love my team; they are just the best. We have supportive producers, reporters and anchors. They are all so talented. We have a really good chemistry working together,” she said.
Her early morning and weekend schedule means she works four 10-hour days and is off three.
“It’s very fast-paced. I get to investigate a lot, and that’s a lot of fun. I love writing,” she said. “We stress accuracy. We confirm everything.”
But the news business is tough to put aside.
“I don’t take a day off,” she said. For instance, the other night she was awakened by the sound of a helicopter flying over her Shiloh subdivision.
“I did a little digging. Turns out there was a missing little boy. I made a couple phone calls,” she said.
Thursdays are usually a day off, but when St. Louis County police officer Blake Snyder was killed in the line of duty on Oct. 6, she worked from home all day. “I did a lot of digging, discovered we had mutual friends.”
The impact of that tragedy hit the newsroom hard, she said. After covering the presidential debate at Washington University and Snyder’s funeral just days apart, the staff was drained.
“Everyone was feeling it. We were all just spent — emotionally and physically. The toll it takes personally is pretty heavy,” she said.
Family provides solace, she said. She and her husband, Brian, have two daughters — Camryn, 9, and Kyleigh, 5.
They moved from Belleville to Shiloh in April 2015, and love the area.
“We moved here for the kids. Their school is right by (St. Teresa’s). It’s quiet. We’re on a lake, and that was a big selling point. Until I can talk Brian into moving to a beach, this will do,” she joked.
She met Brian 17 years ago when she accompanied a cousin to see a friend’s band play at Town Lounge in Collinsville. Fifty-one weeks later, they were married.
“And we’ve only been apart three days that whole time,” she said.
The demands of her schedule as a working mother can be grueling. On weekends, she works 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Mondays and Tuesdays, she’s ready at 2 a.m. and must go to bed early.
“I don’t get to nap,” she said.
So, a core group of friends helps with stress relief.
“Being with my girlfriends is so therapeutic,” she said.
And her radio pals are never far from her heart.
“It’s like a family. I miss my friends. It’s in your blood. I’m still so close to them,” she said.
Music has always been a part of her life.
“Music is my first love, that’s the essence of me. I’m a classic rock girl,” she said.
She was able to combine music and work with a piece she did on Sammy Hagar’s headliner appearance this summer at Fair St. Louis. Hagar, known as the Red Rocker, has been a local fan favorite since his days with the band Montrose. A solo performer before and after Van Halen, the San Francisco native told her “St. Louis feels like my hometown.”
Danya is very proud of the package she and collaborator Eric Voss put together, which had thousands of views on the KMOV website, and went viral on social media. Hagar also posted it.
“Eric is brilliant, an Emmy-winning photographer. He shot the crowd and I interviewed Sammy on why it’s special to perform in St. Louis. He loves our town, and fans have a lot of love for him,” she said. “That was my baby. We had such good response. It was the top read story on our website, and we created another package too.”
She also interviewed concert-goers, and included two pals from her radio days, former KSHE and The Rock DJs Favazz and Randy Raley, on Hagar’s appeal.
Danya grew up in Collinsville in a large Italian family. Her parents are Rosemary Furfaro, who lives in O’Fallon, and Bob Wagner, who lives in Maryville.
She has fond memories of listening to her parents’ record collection.
“They took me to festivals and I listened to their vinyl.”
The Boston album from 1976 was a favorite, so was “Kiss Alive,” she said.
She is passing on her passion to her girls.
“When my oldest daughter was 3-4 years old, she could name songs by hearing just a few bars of music. I wish I would have videotaped it. Listening to Paul McCartney, she could sing every word to every song,” she said.
To and from school, the girls pick songs to play in the car, and right now, “Pet Sounds” and “Star Wars” are on the playlist — “Sail on Sailor” and the “Imperial Death March.”
Daughter Camryn takes piano lessons, and husband Brian is a classically trained pianist. Enjoying music is part of their family culture.
As with all working moms, there is a tug about what she might be missing.
“You always worry that you are not doing something that you should be,” she said. “I’m a mom, that’s who I am.”
And she has her tickets for Roger Waters (Pink Floyd).
Q: Do you have words to live by?
A: “Nothing is impossible if you’re determined enough to make it happen.”
Q: Whom do you most admire?
A: “My kids.”
Q: If you could spend time with a famous person, past or present, whom would it be?
A: “Richard Pryor.”
Q: What is the last book that you read?
A: “‘The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band,’ a book by Mick Mars, Neil Strauss, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee, and Vince Neil.”
Q: What do you do for fun and relaxation?
A: “There is nothing like watching a live rock show. While relaxing, I’m all about the vinyl. On my turntable right now: Pink Floyd, The Wall.”
Q: What did you want to do career wise when you were growing up?
A: “Music was my first love. I wanted to work in the music industry in some capacity.”
Q: What do you think is your most outstanding characteristic?
A: “Probably my knowledge of music, crossing (nearly) all genres.”
Q: What irritates you most?
Q: What type of music do you listen to?
A: “I don’t discriminate when it comes to music. It’s hard for me to distinguish a type since music is simply music. However, I have to say, if given one choice, it would be classic rock.”
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: “The creative aspects of production.”
Q: If you were independently wealthy, what would you be doing?
A: “Traveling the world.”
Q: When they make a movie of your life, who would play you?
A: “Sarah Silverman......Probably one of the few women that can pull off the blue sense of humor.”
Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what would you have with you?
A: “A house.”