Dana Perino currently serves as co-host of FOX News Channel’s (FNC) The Five (airing weekdays 5-6PM/ET). She joined the network in 2009 as a contributor. Former White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush, she is the president of Dana Perino and Company, a frequent public speaker on political trends, founder of Minute Mentoring and active in global maternal health and child development through the One Campaign and Mercy Ships. She also helps America’s veterans through Companions for Heroes, which matches rescue animals with vets suffering from PTSD.
BizPac Review is honored to have FOX News Channel’s co-host of The Five Dana Perino participate in our Buzzworthy Interview series.
Q. When Fox News Channel’s “The Five” debuted on July 11, 2011, it was an instant hit. Now according to Nielsen Research, “The Five” is the #1 rated show in all of cable TV in the 5 p.m. (ET) time slot. The show also ranks as cable’s third highest viewed news show, nipping at the heels of ratings leaders like Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor” and “The Kelly File.”
What is the secret behind the show’s continued success?
A. Jasper. Kidding!
The show has surprised a lot of people — it was a new concept to try at 5 p.m. on cable news, and it has continued to draw a big audience. I don’t know if there’s a single secret to our success, but if I had to choose one thing I would say it is the mix of personalities. We each have different backgrounds and experiences which adds to the content we deliver, and we all have a sense of humor and a comfort with ourselves that we don’t have to pretend to be anything else. Our authenticity comes through, and the viewers have come to know us. They think of us as their friends.
For example, this year I had a chance to spend a weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. My husband and I were with another couple and we were shopping on King Street. We came out of a store and a couple of guys were standing there waiting for their wives, and when they saw me they said, “Hey, Dana.” And I said, “Oh, hi, how are you?”, and kept walking. My friend said, “Did you know them?” And I said, “No, but I think people just think of us as people that they know personally.” And that is the part of The Five’s success that I love. We have people that watch us in their offices, while they’re making dinner with their kids around the breakfast bar doing their homework, or at the gym. Others meet up with their neighbors and watch it together. Some watch us when they get home from work or catch up on shows the missed over the weekend. I even met an inter-generational family of fans — the high school student lives on the East Coast and her grandmother lives in California. They Skype each other when the show starts and watch us together, commenting along the way. We also interact with our fans on Facebook and Twitter, so we’ve got a good idea of what works. And now that we’re heading into a presidential election cycle, I think our banter will be something people tune it to see. Because you never know what’s going to happen (and that includes us!).
Q. How challenging is it for you and your four co-hosts to keep a one-hour show fresh and entertaining five days a week?
A. I’ve wondered about this, because The Five is really my first extended, full-time job in television. There are days I think, “there’s no news,” and then sure enough something happens that day and we have more to talk about. One thing that surprises people is that we don’t script any of our discussions, nor do we talk about the show before we are live at 5 p.m. We all suggest topics for the show, and we get our rundown around 10:30 a.m. Then we all start preparing individually. Sometimes we will email back and forth, asking for clarification, and once in a while we share information we got from our own research or sources, and that helps keep everyone more informed. I often send articles around asking people to read them “for background,” which is a throwback to my press secretary days where I wanted to be the most prepared person in the room. And when we meet in the greenroom around 4:30 p.m., we just shoot the breeze, catch up with each other on personal things, and when the show starts, we are in good moods and I think that comes through to the viewers.
Q. Can you share your favorite “Five” moment or the one that makes you the proudest?
A. We’ve had a lot of “moments” on the show – some funny, some heated, and some personal, such as when Greg’s mother passed away and he bravely got through his monologue that was a tribute to her. But our proudest moment came recently on March 30, 2015 when Sen. Marco Rubio chose our show to be the on which he revealed that he would be making a formal announcement about his likelihood of running for President of the United States. We had a good time asking him questions in a format that fit his style.
Q. Your first book, “And the Good News Is…Lessons and Advice from the Bright Side,” will be released on April 21. On your website, you describe the book this way:
I peel back the curtain of the White House and give readers a peek behind the scene set of The Five, sharing lessons along the way that helped me overcome challenges, self doubt, and second guessing to be successful and become what I call ‘joyously content.’
Do people often fail to live their lives “joyously content”? If so, how do you hope your book will help readers improve their outlook and attitude in life?
A. I can’t say what other people feel, but I know that I am most happy and comfortable when I can find a balance that includes hard work, gratitude, and love. I try to remove any drama from my life – I like to be even. But I don’t like to be bored. So over the past several years, I’ve found just the right mix that works for me, and I feel more productive, secure, and confident than in years past. I learned at the White House that most of the little things that can bug a person throughout the day aren’t that important. I remember the day I left the administration I said, “Nothing I do for the rest of my life will ever be that hard.” And that’s been true – but I never thought I’d have as much fun as I’m having now. I feel like The Five is the perfect show for me to be a part of at this point in my life, and that’s contributed to my ability to be joyously content.
Q. As former President George W. Bush’s last press secretary, do you feel any empathy while watching today’s White House press secretary Josh Earnest take heat from the media? Have you ever reached out to him to offer advice or to commiserate? How would you rate him as a press secretary?
A. I always empathize with the communicators and I try to remind people that if they’re unhappy with the public relations of any White House they need to remember that it’s usually not a communications problem, but what I call “a fact problem.” The nice thing about all of the press secretaries is that we share an experience that is very hard to describe – it’s the most nerve-racking, frustrating, exhilarating, and fulfilling job you can imagine, and we have a nice fraternity and we keep in touch now and then.
Dana, on behalf of our readers, thank you for participating in this Buzzworthy interview.
BizPac Review readers are encouraged to watch Dana on “The Five,” pre-order her new book or meet Dana on her national book tour. Now there is an extra incentive to pre-order since Dana has recently announced that she will donate $2 from early sales of each copy to Mercy Ships.
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