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Former KARE 11 anchor Diana Pierce relishes being in charge of ‘What’s Next?’

October 6, 2018

Former KARE 11 anchor Diana Pierce likes all her former producers, but she prefers assigning herself.

Two years ago, Pierce left the station after 32 years. She keeps busy with a Facebook show for the 50-plus crowd, a livestreaming business and mentoring.

I get to line up all my guests. Im doing everything I did at Channel 11, but its the people Im most interested in putting on air, said Pierce.

She said a story about a woman who helps families find senior housing might not fit the 18-35 TV audience, but it fits hers. If we havent already placed our parents in some type of senior residence, its coming, she said. I have another guy who works with a nonprofit, flagsforfallenmilitary.org. Somebody like that might not get a KARE 11 spot, but its perfect for my group because they are looking for volunteers. Who has time to volunteer? People past the age of 50.

Pierce seems to think she is less recognizable, but itll take more than a hair barrette, jeans and cowboy boots to disguise her. She was recently in Bettles, Alaska, at a lodge, where Minnesotans from Northfield recognized her. Catch up on Whats Next? at facebook.com/whatsnextwithdianapierce.

Q: Tell me about your Facebook show.

A: On Thursday nights at 7 oclock I have Whats Next? With Diana Pierce. After I left Channel 11, I was looking for the whats next? in my life. I know that I have the baby boomer market, true-blue fans who follow me. Women 40 to 70 follow me. Thats 60 percent of my audience. I know that guys in that same age range follow me. Whats Next? With Diana Pierce is geared for the 50-plus crowd and things that interest them. [For example,] Medicare. There are a bunch of changes coming for 2019 400,000 Minnesotans will be affected by this. I am not a Medicare expert. I defer to the experts. Thats my role.

Q: There was a time you had to put on makeup five days a week. How many days now?

A: Most days I am not wearing it. And Im OK with it. Ive done several things for Blue Cross Blue Shield this year; we had a series on caretakers. I had my makeup done for that. Senior LinkAge Line, run by the state of Minnesota, Ive had my makeup done for that. Otherwise Im sans makeup and its OK. [People say] I recognize the voice but whats this? [circling the top of her head with her finger]. This is the natural hair. I dont have it straightened anymore.

Q: Were you financially ready to retire when you took the buyout and left KARE 11?

A: Im OK, but one of the reasons I have been looking for additional work, and now starting Diana Pierce Productions, is because I wanted additional streams of income. Im part of the Gig Generation. I did something with Rick Kupchella [another KARE alum] just the other day at UnitedHealthcare. I did a voice-over for them that included Rick and Don Shelby. I reconnected with a dear friend who used to work at KARE, Bob Timm. The two of us have put together a livestreaming business.

Q: What have you learned about yourself now that the grind of TV is not part of your life?

A: I like self-assignment. The things that Im doing now are the things I am interested in. Im curious about all kinds of things, not only in the Twin Cities but across the country and around the world. The things I am bringing to Whats Next fit the 50-plus crowd, but they also fit my interest.

Q: Did you notice [former co-anchor] Paul Magers struggling with an alcohol problem those years you worked next to him?

A: No, I did not. That was a shock to me as much as to other people. There are some people who said, Oh no, I could see it. Naw, I didnt see that part of him. Gosh, and I know how people struggle in recovery. God bless him and only take it one day at a time.

Q: What advice do you wish you had given your daughter [Chelsea Babcock], and whats she doing in L.A.?

A: Every so often I hear something, her doubting herself. And its like: Youve got a long way to go. The suns going to come up tomorrow. [Her kids short has been] accepted in the Twin Cities Film Festival her project The Cookie Job. She wrote it, she shot it, she edited it along with a couple other people.

C.J. can be reached at cj@startribune.com and seen on Fox 9s Buzz.

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