Inside Edition's Lisa Guerrero opens up about her time in broadcasting, and the times in between as a cheerleader for the Rams, actor, and model.
Lisa Guerrero has enough stories from her time at Fox and Monday Night Football to write a book. In fact, that is what she is doing right now. The award winning journalist for Inside Edition has a forthcoming book called Consider this interview to be a prelude to her forthcoming book about her life called Warrior: My Path to Being Brave. It will be released on January 24, 2023.
In this episode, Lisa shares the high and low points of her time working in broadcasting; everything from a toxic environment at Fox Sports, to the abusive media criticism as a sideline reporter from Monday Night Football in 2003, where they changed the job description mid-flight. This is a very special episode for me as I have been a fan of Lisa's work dating back to the Best Damn Sports Show Period in the 90's.
Today, many people encounter Lisa and her amazing Investigative journalism, whether it is on You Tube, Television or even Twitter where she doesn't hesitate to call out B.S. or remind us that leaving $10 or $20 behind for the house keeping staff after a hotel stay goes a long way to making lives better and being kind.
There's lots more Lisa on our episode page.
Thanks also to the people who make this show possible every week including:
Megatrax - Licensed Music for your radio station or podcast production company.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:00:01
The Sound Off Podcast. The podcast about broadcast with Matt Cundill starts now.Matt Cundill (Host) 00:00:11
Lisa Guerrero chases bad guys. The investigative journalist at Inside Edition is a YouTube sensation for her confrontational encounters with bad people doing bad things. I spent most of my 20s watching Lisa as a sports TV personality on the Fox show Best Damn Sports Show, period. Also in 2003 as a sideline reporter for Monday Night Football. Lisa tells her story of her broadcast career, the cheerleading and the theater in between, and the pivot in 2006 to Inside Edition. You know, even if you haven't watched the show, you know the theme. Lisa Guerrero joins me from her home in Los Angeles.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:00:53
Well, I think I was blessed that my dad, who got his master's from University of Chicago in Social Services, immediately knew enough to get me into grief therapy at eight, and I was a pretty active kid and very creative, so he got me into theater therapy. We lived in San Diego, and there was a program at the Old Globe Theatre, Junior Theatre. I immediately learned how to put my grief in a place that was creative and therapeutic and was a natural, organic extension of living life. There are good things, there are bad things. And I was able to use theatre as a tool to help me deal with my sadness.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:01:46
Did you know you wanted to be an actress at that point?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:01:49
Yes. I knew from the theater experience when I was eight that I really loved being on stage, and I could channel my emotions in a safe place through a scripted storytelling process, that I was good at it, and it was comfortable for me. I was very comfortable in front of people, expressing my opinions, expressing my feelings. So I really kind of thrived on stage. So I thought, yeah, I want to be an actor when I grow up. And as I got a little older, I was also really involved in sports, because the other component that my dad thought was important was to put me in team sports. So I was a softball player, ran on the track and field team, was on the dance team and competitive dance team and drill team. And so my dad thought it was important for me to both have that acting experience, but also to have a sports experience. And so when I was growing up, I kind of thought that some day I'd like to be a quarterback for the San Diego Chargers and a famous actress. So my dad never told me I couldn't do both. So that's kind of where I was going as a kid. And then when I got older, I thought, well, I'm probably not going to be able to be a professional quarterback, but maybe someday I'll be a sports reporter or a sports writer, but I still want to really pursue acting. So that was the thought process back then.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:03:22
Who is your favorite coach and what did they teach you?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:03:25
So I had an amazing softball coach. I played for Bobby Socks. Bobby Socks is a softball League for little girls. And I had this amazing coach on my team called Goldies, but Goodies. And Coach Philip was this amazing young man and he was very determined that we little girls play like boys, and that nobody should tell us that we couldn't be just as athletic or aggressive as the boys and that we should be able to slide into home, and we should be able to get sweaty and dirty and not worry about what we look like, but instead how we perform and playing to the best of our ability. So he was great when I was nine or ten. He was a great mentor. And again, my dad was a coach as well for me, taught me how to throw a perfect spiral, how to scoop a softball up as a first baseman, and he would take me to games. The first time I saw the Padres and the Chargers were at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, and my dad taught me how to score the baseball games in the back of the program. There's a place where you can score the games. So he taught me how to score and taught me the difference between man on man versus zone defense. And he taught me the language of sports really young.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:04:54
What were those years like just after high school?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:04:56
So after high school, I went to Junior College, was determined to be an actor, was modeling at the time. A friend of mine talked me into trying out for cheerleader at my College, Golden West College. And I had been on dance teams before. So I thought, yeah, that sounds like fun and good exercise and being part of a female team. So I auditioned and made it. And those girls, a few months later, said they were going to try out for the Rams cheerleaders, the professional NFL squad near where I live. And I never, ever thought I would want to be a professional cheerleader. Never dawned on me to even dream about it or think about it. But again, I had a dance background. So I thought, you know what? I think that would be fun. Why not? Why not go and audition? Meanwhile, over 1000 women auditioned that year and they only took seven new girls. So I was pretty surprised when I made it and became a Rams cheerleader at 19. So I was one of the youngest girls on the squad at the time, and it was a wonderful experience for me as a performer.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:06:04
So you and I have tweeted back and forth a little bit about a documentary that is out right now. But what was your experience like cheerleading? And did it reflect anything that is in that documentary?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:06:16
So the documentary is called A Woman's Work: The NFL's Cheerleading Problem. And it's a really excellent documentary that explores whether or not NFL cheerleaders are being taken advantage of financially, primarily because back when I cheered, we weren't paid for hours and hours and hours of work. It was a part time job. You'd have to go to rehearsals, promotional events, shoots, charity events for the team, season ticket events, and of course, the games. And we got two free tickets a game to give to our parents or a friend or boyfriend or something. And that was it. And we were told that a thousand women would take your place, which was true. And what they didn't do was value our individual time and effort. And so I was really happy to see this documentary come out because it's about time these women made a living wage and they are ambassadors for these billionaires. The NFL is one of the most successful companies in the world. And the cheerleaders are young women from that community, unlike the football players who aren't from that community. They're drafted from College and they play for that team in that community for a couple of years, and then they go back home. Well, the women that are cheerleaders are from that community and end up staying in that community because that's where they live. And so I think there's been a decades long funnel of these young women that have been working for practically free for billionaires in order to enhance their status, in order to enhance their community relations in that city. And those women really should be paid for their time and for their work.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:08:04
What was your first broadcast opportunity?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:08:07
After I cheered for four years for the Rams, I became the cheerleader director for the Atlanta Falcons for three years and then went to the New England Patriots as the cheerleader director and entertainment director in Boston. And when I was in Boston, I was discovered by WEEI's radio icon Eddie Endelman, and he brought me onto his show as a guest to talk about the cheerleaders. But what we ended up talking about was the Celtics, the Bruins, the Patriots, Boston College. And little did he know I loved sports, and knew sports, and was a sports fanatic. And so that was supposed to be a ten minute conversation about the cheerleaders ended up being 2 hours of talking sports live on AM radio. And after that conversation, he said, you need to be on TV. I've never seen anybody that looks like you, that knows sports like you do. And again, this is in the 80s. And he said, I have a contract with Sports Channel New England, and I would like to produce a show for you on Sports Channel New England. So it was the first ever all female sports show is called Sports Gals of all terrible names. And it was me, Janet Prinsky and Barbara Boren. Janet and Barbara were older than I was. One was a radio personality and one was a print personality for a print journalist. And together, the three of us were kind of different generations and different specialties. I was TV, one was radio, one was print. But we loved sports. And so that show had a little cult following. And an agent in Los Angeles back home where I'm from, saw a tape of Sports Gals, called me and said, you need to come home. You need to be on television doing sports on a network. So eventually, within a year, I did end up going back home and signed with Ken Lindner and Associates, which is still to this day, my agent. And he really helped me choreograph my sports career.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:10:15
I was completely unaware of that Sports channel affiliation that you had. And it was practically in my backyard being that I was in Nova Scotia, in Montreal, and we would get a lot of New England. I would also spend time in Maine. I'm sorry that I missed this show.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:10:31
It only lasted- I would say, we probably taped maybe 10 to 15 episodes before I got the call from an agent to go back. And at first I was really reluctant because I didn't go to College to study broadcasting. And I was a performer as an actor. But I didn't know the basics of journalism. I didn't know how to use an IFB or what a stand up was. I knew how to interview people, but I didn't know a lot of the basics that most young reporters know coming out of school. So I was a little hesitant to sign with him. And he said, look, you are a personality, you're a performer, and you know sports. You should be on camera talking about sports.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:11:16
And is this when you wound up at Fox shortly after?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:11:20
No. My first job with him, believe it or not, was a game show by the producers of American Gladiators called Wild West Showdown. And it was a Western style sports competition show that I co hosted as an old-timey Annie Oakley type. They had me in a- it looked like it was something out of A Little House on the Prairie, because this show was set in the Wild West and all the athletes were cowboys and fighters and shooters, and they were like Cowboys and Indians. And so I was the intrepid reporter that worked for the little local newspaper with a wooden stick behind my ear as a pencil and a notepad. And I would interview these characters after each event. And again, crazy thing. I remember being in this costume, this ridiculous, I can only describe it as something you would see on Little House on the Prairie. So I'm wearing this ridiculous costume and I'm calling my agent, going, you promised me I would be a sportscaster. What am I doing on this crazy game show? And he said, Be patient, be patient. So I made it through that first season. He set my second interview was with KCBS in Los Angeles, and they were looking for a weekend sports guy to replace Brett Lewis. And I would be working with Jim Hill, who is a legend here in Los Angeles. He's been a sportscaster for a long time at CBS Two. And so they were looking for his weekend sports guy. My agent talked them into letting them interview me. And I walked in and I didn't have a resume at all. And I hadn't gone to broadcast school and I didn't have a journalism background, but I knew sports and they started grilling me about sports and I basically demanded the job. I said, more and more women are sports fans. There are no women in Los Angeles that are sports reporters. I'm Latina. The Latino culture here is growing and they're passionate sports fans. And you don't have anybody like me covering sports, certainly not at your station. But there was nobody like me at all in sports anywhere. And I said, you'd be smart if you hired- the audacity, really. I look back and I can't believe I kind of said that, but they, believe it or not, hired me. And the ratings were really strong for Sports Central, which was the name of the show I was on. And quickly another station here locally, Fox Eleven, that was their direct competition on the weekends. They hired me away from CBS, too. And then their ratings went up, and that caught the eye of David Hill, who ran Fox Sports, big Fox Sports. And he saw me at the local affiliate and he hired me and gave me an overall deal at Fox Sports. So I was there for a few years and I did shows like Tough Man, Sports Geniuses, Southern California Sports Report and The Best Damn Sports Show, Period.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:14:26
At what age did you decide to take on your mom's name of Guerrero?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:14:30
So this was an ongoing conversation I had with both my acting agent and my broadcast agent. I wanted to be Guerrero when I started acting, and my old manager, who is a very famous actor's manager who represented a lot of very famous actresses at the time in the 80s, he said, if you take your mother's name, you're going to kill your career because there are no parts for Latinas other than maids or the girlfriend of the drug dealer. And you're going to limit yourself if your last name is Guerrero. I was adamant about doing it, though, because I wanted little girls to see that last name and to know that they could be an actor or a broadcaster and that they could have these possibilities that I didn't know I could have when I was little. And I wanted to honor my mother because I look like her. I'm connected to her culture. She used to say to me when I was little, your last name, Guerrero, means warrior. And don't forget that you are a Guerrero. You are a warrior. And so that just resonated within me for years. So when I had the opportunity to finally change my name, when I went on camera, I took it. So I was in my late twentys. I ended up changing my name and I also changed that manager, got rid of that manager and found a female manager that said, yes, I support you being Guerrero and taking your mother's last name.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:16:02
So in you go. The first time I noticed and connected with you, it was on The Best Damn Sports Show, Period. The only reason I got to see that show is because I pirated the TV in Edmonton with a satellite dish and had all these Fox Sports channels. And I thought, look at this show. It's got an amazing cast. Check this out. It was mayhem on that set. Just to paint the picture. Michael Irvin and John Sally and John Cruick and Tom Arnold. These are characters and there you are playing with them. What was that experience like?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:16:39
It was an amazing time because for the first time, I think anywhere you see a real connection between entertainment and sports. We would do comedy sketches and we had Ben Affleck and Barry Bonds and Shaquille O'Neill and Charlize Theron. I mean, we had superstar actors and superstar athletes on the show talking about sports and their movies or their TV series. And it was really groundbreaking at the time. But yes, you're right. The characters, the guys. It was like being in a locker room. And I had covered a lot of locker rooms in the ten years that I had done sports in LA. But working with these guys day in and day out on a two hour show was incredible. It was a lot of male energy. I was the only woman on the show. I was the original woman on the show. I would be on the first segment where we would talk about the hot topic of the day, whatever the big sports controversy was. And then I would go to the update desk where every twelve minutes I would do a three minute sports update. And then on the weekends I would fly to do sit down interviews all over the country with superstar athletes. So Shaq or Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Mia Ham, Jerry- We would go everywhere, my producer and I, to get these sit down interviews on the weekends and then bring them back so they can plug them into Best Damn Sports Show during the week. So I would get to the set at noon. We would have a production meeting. I would go straight to the desk and then I would go back down to the set when they were ready to bring in the audience and do the live show for the audience. And every twelve minutes I'm going back up to my desk and the guys would all leave because their two hour block was done. But those inserts throughout the night all the way through Pacific time, the end of baseball games. I would stay until every last game was over. Even including extra innings so often I wouldn't get home back to my house until one or two in the morning and then get as much rest as I could and back to Fox Sports PECO lot at noon. So I was working twelve or 13 hours a day every day and working on the weekends. It was an amazing time for me as a journalist. I loved it, but I had no social life, and I was exhausted all the time.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:19:03
I completely forgot that you did the inserts and because that show was on all the time. And so the show, the 2 hours, was really static, but there you were, updating it all the time. I think I had enough wherewithal to determine that you were doing that. And then eventually, as you mentioned it's, twelve hour days. At what point do you decide to move on from that?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:19:23
Part of my experience with Fox Sports was rocky because I had a boss, one of the executives, hit on me and was inappropriate with me. There was some language that I wasn't comfortable with on the show itself. It was very clear that this is a boys club. I was hired because I knew sports, but also because of what I looked like. And they asked me to wear a short skirt on the set, and I was originally in the center of the set, but they moved me to the far right so that people could see my legs because there was a coffee table in the middle so you couldn't see my legs. So there was a constant balance in negotiation for me. I knew that I had a huge platform and a huge audience, and I was one of the few women, I think I was the first woman, some writer wrote. I was the first woman on sports television that was able to argue and have my own opinion about sports with these professional athletes. I wasn't just doing sports reports or reading a shot sheet or interviewing an athlete. I was getting in nightly arguments with them, having my own opinion about a player's strike or a quarterback controversy, and holding my own with the set of guys. So I wanted to keep that job because I thought it was important to have that job and to have my voice heard. But at the same time, I was having to negotiate my wardrobe and trying to avoid this one executive in the hallway, and it just became too much. And I thought, if I want to be the Barbara Walters of sports, I want my own show where I do sit down interviews, long form journalism with hard to get athletes, difficult athletes. That's what I wanted. They promised me eventually I would get that. And then when my contract came up, they didn't give me that show. They wanted me to remain on Best Damn. So I didn't sign my last contract with them.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:21:12
So you have an idea about what you want to do, which is to have some long form sports conversations with athletes. Was that available at the time? Could you find that?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:21:21
I was doing that on Best? Damn if they would have taken all of those weekend sit down interviews that I did with all of these athletes. A lot of them belligerent and a lot of them ended up with pretty tough questions. And I made Barry Bonds cry. There was a lot of good substance there. A really smart executive would have said, oh my gosh, she's the Barbara Walters of sports. Let's do a special with her or figure out how to make it work. But they wanted me to be the sexy pretty girl. And they would always say, don't argue so much, smile more. So I just knew there wasn't a future for me there. I didn't sign that contract. And I thought, well, I'm going to move on and try to see if maybe I can produce my own show or work with an outside production company. Maybe, or maybe I should write a book about sport. I wasn't really sure at that point where I should go. And then my agent got a phone call from Monday Night Football. They were going to replace their sideline reporter and they wanted to interview me to be a sideline reporter. And that is something I had never done. That is a very specific type of a job. You're doing seven second injury updates and a couple of questions after the game and a couple of little bullet points throughout the game here and there about some backstory on a player. And it wasn't what I did. I had never done it before. Fox Sports had offered me two opportunities to do sideline reporting before for College, and I turned them both down. I just didn't feel like that was my strength and it didn't play to what I do best at first. I said to my agent, I don't want to do Monday Night Football. I don't want to be a sideline reporter. And the thought was, are you nuts? It's Monday Night Football on ABC. There wasn't a bigger job for a woman in sports at that time than being the sideline reporter for Monday Night Football. 40 million viewers every Monday night watch Monday Night Football. And what they told me, Fred Goddelli, who was the executive producer at the time, said, I agreed to go and interview with him in New York. And he said, I want to do something different with the sidelines. I want it to be more like sports meets entertainment. So we would take what you do at Best Damn Sports Show, and you would go up in the stands or in the owner's box or in the end zone, if somebody's getting married, or if there's a celebrity in the stands, or you'll interview the person that sings national anthem. And yes, you'll do some sports, but it will be more of a pop culture entertainment meet sports role. And that made sense to me because Monday Night Football was unlike Sunday football games. It is an event and you have more women viewers, you have more casual sports fans. And I thought that was kind of a cool idea, so I accepted that job. At the same time, I told Fred Goddelli, I'm here in New York because I'm also shooting for FHM. I'm doing a feature for FHM and he's like, okay, he didn't bat an eye. It didn't seem to bother him. Before this, I had posed for Maxim and I was a swimsuit model and an ex cheerleader. And I grew up on the beaches of San Diego and Huntington Beach. I was very comfortable in my skin as a model back then. And he didn't seem to be bothered by FHM coming out. Well, Disney was bothered by it. So as soon as Disney got wind that I was going to be in FHM, their new sideline reporter, they got very upset. And they said, we want her to just go back to regular. We want her to be X's and O's. We want this sideline role to be a traditional role. And I was stuck because I'd already signed the deal. They already announced me as a sideline reporter. We were already prepping for the season. And so I just thought, well, I better learn how to be a sideline reporter right fast because they're not going to go back to what I was promised. So it was kind of a bait and switch to me. But immediately when the rest of the press found out that I had done FHM and that they had hired a former cheerleader, my goose was cooked because they immediately started to just bury me in the media. Before my first game, they called me what you would call now slutshaming. They said they've hired a cheerleader to be the sideline reporter. And she's not a journalist, she's a model. So I think right away I was a big target.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:25:52
I always had the feeling with Monday Night Football, that in the off season, we're going to be creative and do some fun things and you get all sorts of great ideas, and then they do the ideas and then there's just a little bit of pushback. And it always seems to be the heritage brands that do this, just a little pushback, and then they just completely retreat.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:26:11
I get it. People grew up with Monday Night Football. I grew up with Monday Night Football. And obviously, first and foremost, it's a sporting event, and I think there was room for it to grow into this other direction. But I think because of FHM and Disney now merged with ABC, they got nervous. And then that set me up for failure from the beginning. So I had never done that job before. I was being marginalized by the media. The first three preseason games went great, but the first regular season game at the end of the game, I flipped, corrected myself, but it was too late. At that point, the media said she doesn't know sports, see? She's just a Bimbo. And literally Bimbo. The most derogatory language you can possibly imagine. Those were headlines and the commentary back then was so derisive. These are things that you would never say about a woman today because you would get fired if you wrote that today. But 17 years ago, they wrote about my breasts, my fingernail polish color. They called me incredible names because I made a mistake. And from there it was downhill, because besides the fact that I was being publicly humiliated by the media, my boss was also verbally abusive to me and screaming at me at every game. So I became more and more nervous. This anxiety that I've never felt in my life was bubbling up before every game. I was throwing up before every game, lost 8lbs during the season and I was a different person. I look back at those tapes and I don't recognize myself. The confident woman I was on Best Damn Sports Show six months before did not exist on Monday Night Football that fall.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:28:11
So I'm trying to imagine your life. And for context, everyone, this is 2003, so this predates social media, I'm guessing you have newspapers that are going to say something negative. You have sports radio so you can't escape it in the car, you're going to hear something bad about it, and then you have to get to work into the stadium. And did you have to dodge any heckling while you were doing your job?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:28:34
Yeah, I did. It really wasn't the fans that were so bad. There's always knuckleheads, but it was really the media and it was my colleagues. And there were people that I respected and admired that I read their columns in the newspaper and listened to them on sports radio. And I think there was this glee in taking me down that most people had never seen that level of cruelty towards a young woman basically covering a sporting event. And just the coverage was really beyond what should have been appropriate for somebody that was in that position. Again, because I was reading it and I was listening to it. It affected me in a way that- I can't really express how difficult it was going to work every day that year. And then once I was fired at the end of that season, the negativity continued for the next year and a half after that. And it just seemed to be something that became more and more cruel and more and more personal as time went by. And I couldn't believe it.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:29:56
You opened up about those days recently in the New York Post. And there's a link, by the way, in the show notes of this episode for anybody who would like to connect with it, because I think it's a really important read about that time after Monday Night Football and you felt suicidal and you didn't really feel you had a place to go?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:30:13
Yeah. I mean, my identity had been wrapped up in sports. When my mom died at eight, my dad taught me the language of sports. And this was something we shared together, the love of sports. And then I became a sports caster and has spent all of these years kind of honing my craft and getting to a point where people around me said, you're going to have this career for forever. This was going to be my forever occupation. And when the Monday Night thing happened, I was depressed and felt this enormous amount of pain and humiliation. And I just thought, if I can't do this, what else is there for me? I was so wrapped up in my career, and that was my identity, that I couldn't look past this career humiliation. And at one point I was driving down PCH here in Southern California and I turned on sports radio, as was my habit. And they were reading this incredibly cruel column written by somebody in Pittsburgh, and it was eviscerating me. And they were cackling over it. And I just thought, I want to kill myself. I pulled over, sat there for probably a half an hour, and finally called my dad and he said, you are not a sports reporter. You're going to go on to do more important work than covering a pulled hamstring on a sideline. Right now, you think of yourself as somebody that's reporting on male athletic achievement, but you have a greater destiny than doing that. You're a storyteller, you're an actor, you're an artist. Think about news, think about features, think about entertainment reporting. We didn't at the time consider investigations. That was beyond what I would have even imagined back then. But he did say to me, you should think about maybe working for a news magazine. And I hadn't thought of that. I had just thought of myself as a sports person. So after that conversation and after my dad encouraged me to talk to a licensed therapist about how I felt my depression. So I find out from this therapist that I was clinically depressed and I had been for this whole two year experience. So I went to see her on a regular basis, and I'm so thankful that I did. And once the cloud started to clear, I decided, well, I am going to pursue journalism again and I'm going to find what makes me good at what I do. And at this point now, I have had this horrible catastrophe happen to me in sports, and I felt really empathetic towards people that have had something like this happen to them that are much worse. And I think the feelings that I had of empathy started to grow and grow. And I think that's what makes me today a good reporter. I don't think you can cover investigations where you're dealing with victims of serious crimes or cold cases or scams if you can't connect with them. And what happened to me made me very vulnerable, but also made me really understand in a very personal way what pain is and how you want somebody to hear your pain and to help you with that pain.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:33:56
In just a second, Lisa makes that transition out of sports. By the way, there's going to be a lot more to what you just heard here as Lisa is going to be releasing a book shortly called between a Jock and a Hard Place. Coming up, Lisa talks about the trials and tribulations, about the investigative work she's been doing since 2006 on Inside Edition. And, you know, there's a whole lot more we didn't cover that you can find at soundoffpodcast.com. For instance, did you know that Lisa is a singer/songwriter? Here she is singing and performing alongside Keith Burns and Presley and Taylor in the song you hear now, Everybody Loves The Comeback.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:34:46
The Sound Off Podcast.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:34:48
And so it's 2006. You're far removed from Monday Night Football at this point. And you're on Inside Edition. But there's still three years in there for the reinvention to take place. So what happened inside those two years really, where you are in the process of reinventing yourself? You mentioned some therapy. You probably have to negotiate with your agent to say, this is really what I'm looking for. What do you have? What's going on there?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:35:13
So one of the things I did because I couldn't watch sports for a year, and I just thought maybe I should go back to acting. A producer was doing a play in San Francisco called Extremities. And if you remember, Farrah Fawcett played this woman in Extremities where somebody breaks into her house and she fights back and she captures him in this cage in her fireplace. So it's this real physical drama. And so every night in San Francisco, I played the lead character where I'm having these fight scenes and that fight choreography and being battered and bruised every day helped me so much. Just the physical part of getting that anger and rage out of my body was so therapeutic. And of course, I was talking to my therapist at that time. And also, believe it or not, Playboy. So the Playboy magazine had been for 20 years trying to get me to pose in their magazine, first as a Playboy playmate early in my career when I was an actress and a model. And then I kept turning them down. And then later, when my career began to flourish, they kept offering me the celebrity cover. And of course, I turned it down every year. So it became kind of a running joke. Here we go. I got my yearly file from that it would send me this beautiful package with all of these covers of all these celebrities. Lisa, we'd love you to post for Playboy. And I always threw it away. Well, that year I decided not to throw it away. And the very thing that the media had kind of held against me was what I looked like. That's part of every single criticism back then. It had something to do with what I looked like. So I thought, what if I use my looks? That's a tool in my toolkit. It's not the only tool I have. But what if I use that and negotiated a cover and negotiated, I'm not going to be nude inside, but maybe I can negotiate who the photographer is. I can pick the photos they use and have some kind of control over this and then use the platform of doing a cover because they do like a big satellite tour and a PR tour when you do a cover. So I thought, what if I use that to get the word out that I wanted to work for an entertainment magazine, one of the new shows, Entertainment Tonight or Access Hollywood or Inside Edition. And so I did it. And I used that platform to get the word out that I wanted to stay in journalism. I didn't want to do sports anymore, but I do want to do news and possibly entertainment news. And I remember going on one show, I think it was Neil Cavuto. And he said, your broadcasting career is over. You will never work as a journalist again. And the next day, Inside Edition called. The next day wasn't even 24 hours later. It was like 13 hours later, we get a phone call from Inside Edition saying, hey, we want to do a story about you at 39, posing for the cover of Playboy. You're Latina. You're not the 18 year old blonde kind of Hugh Hefner type that's usually on the cover. And you were just on Monday Night Football, and we want to do a story about you. So they did a feature on me. Their viewers loved it. They connected with me. I was immediately offered a two year contract as the West Coast correspondent for Inside Edition. So I signed that contract. I sent Neil Cavuto some flowers. Ha ha ha, I've got a contract, kind of thing. And I took a little glee in that. I don't know if you ever got them, but it was fun sending them. And that two year contract has turned into 16 years on camera with Inside Edition. In 2010, I was promoted to chief investigative correspondent. And for the last ten years, I've been chasing bad guys.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:39:02
Well, it's an incredible story. And if you just look at the chronology of the whole thing, you'll see that in the beginning of 2006, you do pose in Playboy, and then six months later you're chasing bad guys on Inside Edition. So anybody who looks at this goes, I'll join you on Inside Edition. But first I have to pose for Playboy and then I'll join you shortly. Did you have to do that?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:39:21
Don't do that. Young journalists, journalism students, do not do this. Do not do what I did. It was a huge risk. It was a calculated risk, but it was almost an F*** You, honestly, to the people that had been so abusive to me about having been a model or a cheerleader. And I just thought, you know what? I'm comfortable with my sexuality. It's okay. You can be a sexy person, be articulate, be a good reporter. No sports. I'm not much of a cook, but you can be a lot more than just a pretty girl. And in 2003, I was labeled as just that pretty girl. And I thought at 39, I thought, I'm more than that. But I'm going to use that. I will use that platform. And it was a risk. I'm glad I did it. I would never do it again. But there you go. It worked out well for me.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:40:18
This doesn't have to apply necessarily to people who work in the broadcast industry. It could be also the people that you go after every day. But why do so many people underestimate you?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:40:29
I think in general, I think a lot of people underestimate women. I think there's kind of this conception that we're soft or we're not as tough. Maybe we wouldn't be as willing to run down the street after somebody, chasing a criminal, or somebody that's been accused of a scam or a crime. That maybe as a woman, they just kind of underestimate women in news in general. And then when you get to the kind of niche that I've been known for in the last few years, investigations, that's a dangerous job. We do surveillance for hours, waiting for somebody to come out of their house or apartment to do an unscheduled interview in a public place. And they don't want me to be there. They don't want to answer my questions. Sometimes they run away. I've been hit by cars. I've been physically assaulted. I get death threats and rape threats. It is a tough job for a woman. But I think being a woman helps me because I do feel like they do underestimate me sometimes. And I think that helps.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:41:36
Is the scariest part of your job, is it when you get out of the car, announce who you are, and then start asking questions in that first 10 seconds?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:41:46
It's not scary to me. Weirdly. I am very aggressive, and I don't feel any form of nervousness or fear. It's not until after that I start to get nervous because I was like, oh, man, I hope they use that interview. I hope they use all the questions. I want to make sure that people know the whole story. I want to make sure that the victim that I spoke to is proud of me and that I'm able to express what happened to them and demand answers on their behalf. I start to get nervous that maybe I didn't do enough or ask as much as I could have, or you start to go down, man, did I do it right? How does it look? Because when I'm in the moment, I don't think about how I look or where the camera is. I obviously work with my photo journalist, but we're so used to working together that I don't have to pay attention to him. He knows where to go and what to do. I'm just so focused on that person and asking them questions and listening to answers. Hopefully, if they answer me back, asking follow up questions and really getting to the meat of the situation. So, yeah, I'm never scared in the moment, ever.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:43:01
What's the one story that you did where you said, I'm doing the right thing? Man, am I so glad I took up this job of chasing down the bad guys. What's that one moment, you know, you've made the right choice. And this is for you.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:43:14
I was in the courtroom in a case that was a cold case. The story was called Justice for Juliet. And a two year old girl was beaten to death in her home. And three adults were there. The mother, the boyfriend, and a friend of the boyfriend. One of them killed her, beat her to death. And this was in Nebraska. And local law enforcement bungled the case. All three of those suspects were allowed to leave the state. They never locked down the home as a crime scene. Several years later, that little girl's aunt contacted me on Facebook and said, I watch you on Inside Edition. Nobody will cover this. I can't get the D.A. to take a look at this. And somebody killed my niece and nobody cares. Will you please care? And I looked at the link she sent me and the information, and I pitched it as a story. And my executive producer said, yes, go do this. And so we went to that D.A. and went to the Sheriff. And they said, oh, well, we don't know where the suspects are now. They're in the wind. They've all left the state. Within two weeks we found all three of the suspects. We got the woman to roll over on her boyfriend, and she said on camera to me, Dustin Chauncey did it. We tracked him down. Meanwhile, the aunt, Monica Hall, was gathering signatures to force the grand jury, which you can do in Nebraska to get the right amount of signatures. So between us airing our story on Inside Edition and her gathering the signatures, that case went to a grand jury and he was arrested. And we followed the story. It was several parts as we saw the whole process kind of unfold. And I was in the courtroom next to Monica Hall when Dustin Chauncey was found guilty. And now he's serving 80 years to life in prison. And I thought to myself, this is much more important than covering sports.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:45:09
How did you handle the moment with Kenneth Copeland when he starts to pull his finger out and he's pointing at you. What is the superpower that you have, that prevented you from taking your microphone and hitting them across the head?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:45:22
That interview is one of the most amazing reveals of somebody's personality that you would ever see on television, right? One of the things that you want to do if you want to ask questions, but you want the person to reveal themselves, hopefully in the process of your interview. And he definitely revealed himself. We were there to ask some questions about- he made some comments that he didn't want to fly commercial because he didn't want to get into a tube full of demons, meaning that people that fly commercial are demons. So that's why he was justifying flying in private jets. And we wanted to ask him about his lifestyle of luxury because of the money that his donors had given him. And we had an unscheduled interview. And we interviewed him outside of a seminar he was giving in Branson, Missouri. And he comes out wasn't expecting us. And I ran up to him and asked him if he would talk to me. And he was really interesting. He went from flirting with me to screaming at me to pointing in my face. And I just kept going back to my questions. And I knew as I was watching it that he was revealing himself. And I had been prepared with a lot of questions and follow up questions. But if you watch the raw tape, because the tape is out there, the entire interview, it's just fascinating. So the reason I didn't want to hit him over the head with my microphone is I knew that people would see him for what he was. If I could remain calm and composed and just continue to go back to my questions, I just trusted that the viewer, in the end, would see the truth about this person.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:47:11
Tell me a little bit about Peter Nygard because that's one that hits home here in Canada. But really, it's also an international story. You pursued Peter Nygard right outside of his place in the Bahamas.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:47:27
Obviously, on the heels of the Epstein story, we saw parallels to this. Right? Billionaire, has a private island, inviting young girls to these wild orgies, allegedly. Of course, Nygard was in the fashion business, so he had access to these young women, but he also would invite women from the island, from the Bahamas, these really poor women and offer them, I can make you a model. I can make you a star. So there were a lot of parallels to the Jeffrey Epstein and the Peter Nygard story, including the fact that they both had these islands where they would have these wild parties. I think I was the first journalist to set foot on Epstein's Island, which they used to call what was it, sex offender island or something crazy like that. So we rented a boat and we went down there and I got off the boat and had some questions for some of the workers in that story. And this was just a very similar story. But he at the time, Nygard was in a big battle for years about a lot of the parties that he had with the neighbor. His neighbor was upset about all of the crazy kind of construction that was going on and the wild parties at night. We had a source that was part of the neighbors group, that network that let us have access to go and get a close up look at Nygaard's property. But again, these are the kinds of stories that resonate with Inside Edition viewers because we're always looking for stories that our audience will connect to the victims. And both of these men are powerful men taking advantage of young, vulnerable women. And that's what connected me to both these stories is these women and especially the local women in both these stories because both these men took advantage of girls from the island village that did not have much money and thought that these men were the key to having a career or getting off this island. So it was kind of chilling, actually, that these stories back to back happened in pretty rapid succession.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:49:38
Do you ever get any pushback from the people you work with about being so vocal on Twitter and being opinionated?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:49:45
Yeah, I have been told in the past to be careful about I was posting a lot about Trump back in the day, and. Rightly. So they said pull back on that, which I did. But I still was able to without using the T word, was still able to talk about the issues that were really important to me, the migrants, the children that were being ripped away from their parents at the border. I'm Latina, and so I have a lot of thoughts about social justice and the dreamers here in the United States and the lack of compassion for our farming and migrant community and the racism that I see. So I certainly have been allowed to post my views about all of that. And I think in the end, most journalists that I have seen and that I follow have had strong opinions about politics and Trump, and there really isn't. I think there used to be this thought that you can't take aside, you've got to be in the middle, but when there's right and wrong and science and science deniers fascism and democracy, you've got to take a stand. And so I was pleased to see in the last couple of years, more and more journalists have come forward and have said this is not right. What I'm saying is not appropriate. And whether it comes to the vaccine and COVID and so many people say it's not real. It's not real. I lost two of my coworkers, two Inside Edition colleagues have died of Cobid. One of my cameraman and my senior producer. I can't tell you how disgusting it is to me when I hear these COVID deniers or antimaskers. So I do take things like that personally. And I think that's what makes me a good reporter. Maybe I'm not everybody's cup of tea, and that's okay. I'm going to stay true to the things I believe in.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:51:45
Well, I saw you wandered in against the Nt Masters at one point, then you just left.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:51:51
Well, I did this story pretty recently, and you should see the Uncut version because it's pretty wild. This woman is she heads up the anti maskers group here in Los Angeles, one of the leaders for it. And I interviewed her with a boom. Like, of course, I was wearing masks. She wasn't. And it was bananas. I mean, the types of things these people say, their excuses for not wearing masks or not believing in science is pretty remarkable. But I think that went viral, too. People like when I give people the business a little bit.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:52:26
I love that you're on Twitter and one of your best ideas, and I'd never thought about this before. And this is what makes you an excellent Twitter follow. And that's when you go to a hotel to leave a tip behind for housekeeping. I don't think a lot of people ever thought about how smart that is. You've started a bit of a movement to get people to leave some money behind for housekeeping.
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:52:49
Thank you. That's been a really big part of my message for years because I travel so much, or at least I did before COVID. I was on the road at least 100 days a year. And the housekeeping staff is so hardworking. And can you imagine that job having to clean up people's mess and having to do that kind of work, be paid minimum wage and just feel like your work isn't being valued and you're dehumanized in many situations. So I just thought, I'm just going to start posting myself, tipping, leaving tips at every place I go and encouraging people to leave tips. And that really caught on. And I'm so happy when people say to me like you did. I never thought about that. I'm going to start leaving a tip now. That makes a huge difference in these people's lives. That is the difference between paying your electric bill or not. They're not paid a living wage. And that's not to say that we're letting the hotels off the hook. I still believe they need to pay people a living wage. But in the meantime, we as consumers, we have the responsibility, I believe in taking care of other people and especially the people that are taking care of us.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:54:04
Well, you're right. It seems ridiculous. And I'm running around with my five s and my ten s and my 20s, and I'm passing it out to the bellhop, the Concierge, the Matrix, the Somalia and all the people who I can clearly live without. But I can't live without housekeeping. So why am I not tipping housekeeping, right?
Lisa Guerrero (Guest) 00:54:21
Exactly. And a lot of these people are single women, they're immigrants. These are difficult jobs to do and they are some of the least paid of the travel industry. And so I just think if you can spare five or $10, please do it because it just makes a world of difference in their lives. I also leave a thank you note as well. I leave a tip with a thank you note.
Matt Cundill (Host) 00:54:46
Lisa, thanks so much for being on the Sound Off podcast. I appreciate it, Matt thank you for having me.
Tara Sands (Voiceover) 00:54:51
The Sound Off podcast is written and hosted by Matt Cundill produced by Evan Surminsky social media by Courtney Krebsbach Another great creation from the Sound Off Media company. Imaging Courtesy Corps Image Studios There's always email@example.com.