Marcus Jackson/About Town: Adjusting to a time change

Marcus Jackson/About Town: Adjusting to a time change

CHAMPAIGN — In the first few days after she removed anchoring the 10 p.m. newscast on WCIA from her duties, Jennifer Roscoe sat at the dinner table with her husband, Toney, and their two teen daughters — dressed in her pajamas.

"My husband was like, 'So, the pajamas, huh? Is that what this is going to be like?'" Roscoe said.

"I didn't think anything was wrong with it, and he said, 'You're the only one at the dinner table wearing pajamas; you might want to work on a tweener outfit.'"

Now a month into the new arrangement, the longtime WCIA staple has reached a sort of compromise.

"I'm not immediately in pajamas anymore. I can go grocery shopping after dinner, I can do other things," she said. "I don't have to unclog the toilet in a dress and heels; I can do it in sweatpants."

Forgive Roscoe if she was unfamiliar with the dinner-table dress code.

She had been working the night shift at East Central Illinois' CBS affiliate for the last 21 years, and dinners with the family weren't a common occurrence. That's what prompted her and Toney to have a long discussion at the beginning of the year about scaling back her schedule to spend more time at home with daughters Sophia and Tessa.

"As a family, we were done not having Mom and Wife around at nighttime," Roscoe said. "My kids had never known a mom who was at home at night."

So when her contract was up in April, Roscoe and the brass at Channel 3 were able to work out a deal where she would continue to anchor the 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. newscasts, leaving Jessica Kunz to work alongside Aaron Bennett at 10.

Roscoe is still able to work at the station she has been at since graduating from the University of Illinois in 1993, and she's able to be home with her family where she and her girls are binge-watching television shows online. "The Office" is in heavy rotation right now.

"Thankfully, Channel 3 wanted to keep me here, and we were able to work it out," she said.

* * * * *

Roscoe, a native of suburban Elk Grove Village, never imagined she would still be in Champaign and at WCIA 25 years after interning at the station as a UI student. The plan was to work here for a couple of years, bounce to a bigger market, work there for a couple of years, and then end up back home in the Chicago market, like so many others in the business do.

"Life just kind of gets in the way," she said.

Promotions, marriage, then kids, and all of a sudden, you look up, and a quarter century has passed.

"Then you think to yourself, 'Why would I ever leave here?'" she said. "This is a great place to raise your kids. We've got a great support system. All of our friends are here; family's still close by in the Chicago area."

The need for having millions of eyeballs watching a newscast was replaced by having a close-knit group of friends and co-workers in the Champaign area as well as being able to have meaningful interactions with the folks who tune in each night to watch the newscasts.

* * * * *

Community involvement has been another hallmark of Roscoe's time in C-U, whether she's emceeing a charity event, participating in one like last year's "Dancing with the Stars" fundraiser for the Don Moyer Boys' and Girls' Club, or simply attending and contributing to the causes.

"If I had to leave, that would be one of the saddest things, not being a part of that stuff. That's when you get out," she said. "When you're sitting here at the studio, you don't get a chance to talk to people. But when you're out, you're working the crowd, and you're raising money for a good cause. That's just the cherry on top, helping these organizations raise money."

With a little bit of extra time, Roscoe might extend her list of hobbies that currently includes working out, hanging out with friends, catching movies and binge-watching TV with her daughter.

"When you're a mom, you don't have a lot of time for many things," she said.

For now, being a mom and a wife are tops on her list, and she has enjoyed the heck out of this past month.

"It's been heavenly," she said. "For now.

"It's not all going to be rainbows and unicorns forever because someone eventually is going to make me mad," she said.

Marcus Jackson is The News-Gazette's community reporter. Follow him on Twitter (@MarcusJ_NG) or contact him by email (mjackson@news-gazette.com) or phone (217-351-5604).

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (2):People, Television

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