We all remember exactly where we were when we went into labor with our kids. WNBC News co-anchor Natalie Pasquarella’s labor story, almost fittingly, played out on the air. She was anchoring the 11 pm news when her water broke toward the end of the newscast. Co-anchor David Ushery finished reading a story and they ended the show as usual before the studio was quickly cleared and security walked Pasquarella out of 30 Rockefeller Plaza to a car headed to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. Twelve hours later, she and husband Jamin welcomed their first child, Jamin, born five weeks early.
As the co-anchor of the 4, 6, 7 and 11 pm daily newscasts, a reporter and mom of two (daughter Jada was born in 2019), Pasquarella’s birth story illustrates how she juggles the demands of a high-profile journalism career with parenting young kids. A four-time Emmy award-winner who has interviewed former President Barack Obama and covered countless breaking news stories and everything from food insecurity to the toll COVID has taken on mothers, Pasquarella relishes the title of mom most of all. We chatted with the Steubenville, Ohio native about the news, motherhood and what drew her to settle down in Bergen County’s Northern Valley.
New Jersey Family: There’s no such thing as a typical day in news but what does a weekday tend to look like for you?
Natalie Pasquarella: Because I work the night shift, mornings are when I soak up all the time I can with my kids. Post-coffee, we usually play in the yard, head to the park or stop at our local library. We have lunch together and I always make a big deal out of my kids’ nap time routine because I’m not home at bedtime. Once it’s lights out, I get ready for work and I get into 30 Rock by 2:30 pm. It’s full speed ahead to prepare for News 4 at 4 pm with my co-anchor David Ushery and then News 4 at 6 pm with my co-anchor Chuck Scarborough. We launched News 4 at 7 pm in June. We record pre-show promos, read through scripts and talk with producers about any breaking news. After the early evening newscasts, I shift my focus to any stories I may be working on that week and prepping for our 11 pm newscast. I Facetime the kiddos at bedtime and then I see you all on TV on News 4 at 11 pm. Weekdays are nonstop but my husband and I try to squeeze in workouts together or coffee runs during the week when we can. The majority of our family time is spent on the weekends—and as you can imagine, we cherish it.
NJF: At the height of lockdown, you were co-anchoring the news from home. What was that like?
NP: My kids are so young that we were fortunate to not have many of the same challenges that parents with school-aged children did. Like many parents working from home, we had to create our own workspace while the kids were taking over, too. My ‘studio’ consisted of a camera and blue backdrop in our guest room. I had a tablet that acted as a small teleprompter. I always made it a point to lock the door before I went on air— just in case my son made a run for it from the kitchen! Luckily, that never happened but I did hear his voice from afar during the newscasts. Honestly, I was so grateful for the extra time at home because, as I said, I miss dinner and bedtime when working nights. It was awesome to be able to kiss my kids good night during the week and tuck them in. I loved that time with my husband and children.
NJF: Which stories most deeply impacted you over the past year?
NP: I cannot remember a more intense year of news in my 16-year career—covering the pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, the fight for racial equality and an election like no other. The stories that deeply impacted me were the healthcare heroes who sacrificed so much to keep everyone else safe. I remember being in awe of the frontline workers who had to leave their own families every day to fight this unrelenting virus. I’m so grateful for them. I covered stories of the mothers who were disproportionately affected in the pandemic and forced to leave the workforce this past year. I interviewed moms in Bergen County who were working hard to navigate the pandemic with their own families. I also reported on the racial disparities in healthcare for pregnant Black mothers. In that story, I interviewed a Brooklyn mother who was pregnant with twins during the pandemic and sadly, one baby didn’t make it. She opened up about how she believes race played a part in her pregnancy journey—and we looked into the numbers and the data was stunning. Her courage and resiliency moved me. Her story will make a difference.
NJF: After Jamin’s birth, you became a champion of the March of Dimes. Tell us about your work with them and other causes that are near and dear to you.
NP: I’ve always been a supporter of the work that March of Dimes does, hosting events throughout my career for them even before I was a mother. But when my son came early and we had a relatively brief stay in the NICU, I felt the importance of their work even more. There are so many great nonprofits in New Jersey. The March of Dimes is definitely one of them. I’ve enjoyed working with the Boys & Girls Club and the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, too. Fighting homelessness is another cause close to my heart. I recently hosted an event for Jericho Project in New York City which works to provide housing, employment and mental health services to the homeless.
NJF: How do you manage to carve out time for self-care?
NP: For me, it’s as simple as taking a solo drive for a bit while turning up my favorite music. I love R&B and hip hop and it always puts a smile on my face. The drives clear my head. Workouts, even if only 30 minutes, always feel good. When I carve out that time, I feel great. On the weekends, I try really hard to get the kids in bed on time so I get some quiet time to myself. I also just got my first manicure in a year-and-a-half for your photoshoot so I’m looking forward to more of those, too!
NJF: You grew up in an Italian/Lebanese family as the oldest of four kids. What are your favorite childhood memories?
NP: Big family dinners, playing outside all hours of the day and summer swims at our local community pool. We grew up right down the street from my grandparents so we were always running back and forth from their house. My mom is the oldest of 11 children so we were always around a lot of family. While we didn’t ever go on big family vacations there was always a lot going on locally in the Ohio Valley area. My parents would drive us to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games and local arts festivals.
NJF: Tell us something viewers don’t know about you.
NP: I’m a Disney fanatic. I never went to Walt Disney World as a child but I ended up interning there in college. I worked in the Magic Kingdom and have been hooked ever since!
NJF: What was it like to interview President Obama?
NP: I had a total of seven minutes for the interview. We discussed the economic benefits of U.S. trade with Latin America. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous beforehand but I stayed focused—and I brought the discussion back to the viewers in Charlotte—and the impact on their lives. It was a good discussion. And before you knew it, it was over. We shook hands and I headed to the airport.
NJF: What attracted you to New Jersey and Bergen County?
NP: My husband and I loved the proximity to the city of course. We also knew we wanted a yard and we just really like the people. When we moved here, everyone was so welcoming. There is so much to do with the kids, too. It’s just a great place to raise a family.
NJF: What do you love to do in New Jersey with your family?
NP: We love Van Saun Park in Paramus where we can ride the carousel and the train. We also enjoy Abma’s Farm in Wyckoff. I took my mother there when she came to visit and we went pumpkin picking with the kiddos. The playgrounds in New Jersey are just fantastic. Now that the pandemic restrictions are loosening, we look forward to heading to South Jersey and trying out Diggerland. My son has been talking about that place for a year!
- FAVORITE WORKOUT: HIIT (High-intensity Interval Training) because it doesn’t take too long.
- BREAKFAST: Avocado & scrambled eggs
- FAMILY MEAL: We love Carmine & Ray’s Pizza in Closter & Blue Moon Mexican Cafe in Englewood. At home, I make a pretty good zucchini lasagna.
- SHOW TO BINGE WATCH: I love Dateline and all things Bravo. Anything hosted by Andy Cohen is a guilty pleasure that I never feel guilty about.Follow Natalie on Instagram @natalienews