Profile: He Covered Major News for Big Networks – But Calls Sandy His Biggest Story

John Mooney | April 9, 2014 | Profiles
NJ Public Television host lists Chris Christie – along with Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton -- among most impressive politicians he has encountered

Mike Schneider
Who: Michael Schneider

Job: Managing editor and anchor of New Jersey Public Television’s “NJTV News” show since 2011.

Resume: His news stints have included reporting and anchor duties with local television news stations in New York City, Miami and elsewhere. In addition, he has worked for the broadcast Big Four of NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox, as well as Bloomberg TV. He was a news host of Fox’s “Schneider Report” and ABC’s “Good Morning America,” co-anchored ABC’s coverage of the Persian Gulf War, and moderated a 1988 presidential debate.

Style: He plays anchorman well, with a well-practiced and deep-voiced seriousness.

Anchorman’s anchorman: He views the Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” not just as a must-see movie. “It was all based around Philadelphia, they derived it from that. It’s like a documentary to me, I lived it.”

Still living it? “In my mind. With no acceptance of the gender bias or the tailoring choices.”

Early highlights: “I started as a kid writing television news in Philadelphia, and that was gratifying, and went to Pittsburgh and covered the death of the steel industry. That was fascinating.”

New highlight: Schneider has interviewed six U.S. presidents and has covered national conventions and elections, but he calls NJTV’s coverage of Hurricane Sandy maybe the high point. “That was this operation’s finest hour. We were there when people didn’t think anybody could be on the air, and we kept it going. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.”

Reagan, Clinton and …. : “There are three politicians I’ve covered in my life who changed the atmosphere in the room when they walked in, and that’s Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Chris Christie. There is just some magic they carry with them in terms of people’s fascination with them and their persona . . . Christie has a unique quality of being able to interact with individuals precisely the way he chooses.”

His own politics: He ran in 1998 as the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 5th District, losing to former U.S. Rep. Marge Roukema.

The state of TV news: “The promise of cable, to be quite honest, has been largely corrupted by the commercial considerations. The quest for ratings, which is understandable in some ways, has overwhelmed the sense of journalistic purpose they had in the beginning. CNN now is not the CNN envisioned by Ted Turner.”

The state of New Jersey TV news: “Maybe we can help to be the last stand. In three years, we have created something unique in what we are doing. I don’t think there is another operation in the country that does a true newscast and covers the state in the process. We have grown considerably, the audience numbers continue to grow, (and) that is very gratifying.”

The numbers: The show has about 40,000 viewers, with some nights when it has topped 100,000. The audience has grown by about 25 percent in the last quarter, he said.

Age: 61.

Hobbies: Hiking with his wife, Michele, a pediatrician, in parks near their home.

Family: Grew up in Long Island and Philadelphia, attending Temple University. Raised two children in Alpine, and now lives on the border of Ringwood, NJ and Tuxedo, NY. Their children are now grown: a 30-year-old son who is an Army veteran of the Afghan war, and a 26-year-old daughter. Schneider and his wife also have one granddaughter.