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Diana Pierce celebrates 30 years at KARE 11

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Longtime Twin Cities television news anchor Diana Pierce is celebrating 30 years on the air at KARE 11 News Friday.

A graduate of Boston University with a degree in broadcast journalism, Pierce got her start in the industry as a reporter at WKRT in Norfolk, Va., and KSEE in Fresno, Calif., before accepting an anchor job at WTCN, now KARE 11, in 1983.

Her career highlights include covering the 1984 GOP National Convention in Dallas and traveling to Japan to report on the 40th anniversary of the end of World War II. In 2009, Pierce was inducted into the Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

Pierce currently anchors "KARE 11 News at 11" and "KARE 11 News at 4."

Here's a clip from a newscast featuring Pierce, circa 1986.

Among Pierce's frequent guests on "KARE 11 News at 11" is Bring Me The News movie critic Tim Lammers, who talked with the longtime news anchor after the 11 a.m. newscast Friday.

In the interview, Pierce largely attributed her longevity at the station to her colleagues.

"I've just been so fortunate to work with so many quality people day-in and day-out, year-to-year-to-year," Pierce said. "Not everybody still works here. Some have gone on to different markets. I'm still so fortunate to be here. Thirty years in one job is an amazing thing. It's the same thing for Randy Shaver."

Pierce said both she and Shaver had the same epiphany about their long tenures when meeting viewers and signing autographs during KARE's broadcasts recently at the Minnesota State Fair.

"I just looked at Randy and said, 'Could you have even imagined 30 years ago that you and I would still be here at this station doing what we're doing now?' He said, 'Never in a million years,'" Pierce said. "It's a credit to management, the talent and the people that I work with. It's very unusual to have a woman sit in that same spot for 30 years."

Despite the arrivals and departures of talent over the the past 30 years -- including her 10 p.m. co-anchor Paul Magers, whom she worked with for 20 of them -- Pierce said she's thrilled that one thing that hasn't changed is the station's commitment to the viewers.

"The mission of the station is still the same. The mission is to keep reaching out to the community in the way we do best, and that's by telling human interest stories that people do care about," Pierce said. "When the call letters were changed to KARE, it really did represent what we want to be in this community."

People and places

A movie aficionado, Pierce says she's thrilled to have had opportunities over the years at KARE to talk with many major film stars, and even cover the Oscars in Los Angeles at one point.

"I went out to cover the Oscars in 1999 when the Minnesota-made 'A Simple Plan' was nominated and that was awesome," Pierce enthused. "Since we're an NBC affiliate and not an ABC affiliate -- which telecasts the Oscars -- we had to pull strings to make it happen."

Accompanied by a producer and photographer, Pierce said only she was credentialed to go inside the event, which made things tricky; but fortunately they were all in the right place at the right time to get the shot that mattered with "A Simple Plan" star, Billy Bob Thornton, who was making his way into the ceremony.

"When Billy Bob walked through, I shouted to him and he walked over and gave this great interview," Pierce recalled. "He said, 'Hey, I'd like to give a shout-out to Minnesota, it was great! I really had a great time shooting there and I'd love to come back.' He was really a very nice guy."

Pierce has done celebrity interviews ever since before KARE, and she counts one she did with screen legend Jack Lemmon while she was in Norfolk as one of her "absolute favorites."

"I was the very last person to interview him day after a long day of interviews, and let's just put it this way, he had already gotten into the scotch by the time I was there," Pierce recalled with a laugh. "My interview was about 5 or 6 in the evening and he'd been doing interviews since 10 o'clock that morning, so he was feeling no pain by the time I saw him -- but he was one of my favorite interviews."

While at KARE, Pierce said she loved interviewing Martin Sheen for his 2010 drama "The Way." Sheen and his son, Emilio Estevez (who wrote, directed and starred with his dad in the film), stopped at the station to talk with Pierce about the film.

"The two of them walked in, and for all the stuff he's done, he was such a humble man," Pierce recalled. "He has such a wonderful father-son relationship with Emilio and it showed in the interview. They related so well with one-another. That was, for me, such a warm, genuine moment to see both of them together."

Of course, there can't be a best interview without a worst, and actor Topher Grace takes the latter honor with Pierce after he went into shutdown mode during a 2011 interview at KARE for the romantic comedy "Take Me Home Tonight."

"He was one of my worst ones ever. Everyone in the Twin Cities thinks of Topher as being just a dweeb," Pierce cracked. "He completely curled up in a chair and I only got one- or two-word answers out of him."

If Grace or anybody else stressed Pierce out over the years at KARE, she certainly doesn't show it; and the picture atop the article is testament to the fact that she just does not age.

And no, it's not because she's secretly drinking from a Fountain of Youth at home.

"I credit my Mom's good bone structure -- and people laugh, but it's true, I've used sunscreen ever since I walked through the door here," Pierce said. "I'm a red-haired, fair-skinned, freckle-faced kid from California. Sometimes I walk in and look as white as a sheet with sunscreen on, and when people look at me funny, I say, 'Let me go put some makeup so I can look human again.'

"Plus, hopefully it's because I eat right and exercise right -- and have a lot of laughter in my life," Pierce added. "There's a lot of good people that I work with here and they make me laugh. And I like to laugh."

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