JoAnne Purtan: Detroit Original.
By Jackie Headapohl, Photography: Jerry Zolynsky
Casting and Production: Constantina for Talent Media Services, Creative Director: Deborah Schultz, Wardrobe Stylist: Michelle Hutchins, Hair Stylist: Raimonda Gjekaj-Pepaj for Fiaz Salon & Spa, Make-Up Stylist: Sigal Levine, Camera Assistant: Ron Shelton, Special thanks to Scott Shuptrine, Royal Oak
When JoAnne Purtan’s dad, radio personality Dick Purtan, worked at WXYZ Radio, she would go to work with him on Saturday mornings and run downstairs to the newsroom where she would pretend she was doing the news.
“I just knew from the time I was a little girl this is what I wanted to do,” JoAnne says. “I love telling people’s stories and bringing viewers important information.”
JoAnne, who’s received four Emmy Awards for her work, anchors WXYZ-TV’s Action News at Noon and co-anchors the 4 p.m. newscast called The Now Detroit. She’s also the “Don’t Waste Your Money” consumer reporter and each week she profiles “mompreneurs” in her “Mom’s a Genius” segments.
She says today’s TV news business is a whole new world from when she graduated from Michigan State University in the 1990s.
“Broadcast journalists have more responsibilities than ever. Putting together a good TV story is only part of what we do. One of the most difficult parts of my job is taking a story I’ve done that depends so heavily on video and translating it into a story for the website that people will read instead of watch.
“We all do it all these days … there’s no such thing as just anchoring the news.”
She and her husband, Eric, have two teenage children, Lauren, who loves to dive, and Adam, who plays travel hockey. “Their activities keep us busy,” says JoAnne, who works hard to maintain a balance between career and family.
“I’m blessed with a husband who does so much. We’re a great team. We’ve worked at it to make sure we could both have careers and still be there for our kids,” she says. “I have the best schedule in TV news, 9-5:30, which allows me to be home for family dinners.”
She says she gets a lot of satisfaction from her “Mom’s A Genius” segments. Over the last two years, she’s profiled more than 100 women. “They are so gutsy to follow their dreams and passions by starting a business.”
Her deep Detroit roots make her passionate about this community. She is on the advisory board of the Midnight Golf program, a program that teaches Detroit teens financial literacy and life skills along with the game of golf.
JoAnne is also on the board of directors for New Day Foundation for Families, a nonprofit that provides financial stability and hope to cancer patients and their families.
She knows firsthand how devastating cancer can be, having lost her mother-in-law to ovarian cancer, the same disease her mom has battled five times since 1997. “It’s a miracle she’s still here with us today,” she says.
Her parents’ Purtan Family Foundation supports research to develop more effective screening and better treatment for ovarian cancer.
From a fashion perspective, JoAnne tends to concentrate on classic pieces, mainly dresses, and viewers aren’t shy about letting her know whether they agree with her fashion choices.
“I have one dress with a really bold pattern. I often get emails from viewers when I wear it. Some love it. Others not so much. One email said, ‘No, no, no. Never wear that again.’ I had to laugh. I hope people are paying more attention to what I’m saying than what I’m wearing, but, hey, it goes with the territory.”
Still, she loves her job and can’t imagine doing anything else. “I go to work every day loving what I do. It doesn’t really feel like work!” NS
JoAnne’s Fashion Musts
“I love the way Tahari ASL and Ralph Lauren dresses fit me. The fit is critical because viewers can see me from head to toe during some newscasts.
“That’s why one of my wardrobe must-haves for the spring is a great nude high-heel.
“I also tend to gravitate toward color block dresses. They’re simple but add a little more pizazz than just solid colors. Patterns definitely need to be bigger than smaller because the camera struggles with smaller patterns.”