Leslie @ Lunch
With Premier Guest Jerome Ritchey
The birthday boy showed up in a black herringbone button-down, crisp camel-colored slacks and cuff links. I wore a smile plastered across my face—as I often do in Jerome Ritchey’s presence.
I’ve known Jerome for a little bit over two years now. He’s the co-host of Studio 10 TV, the local show on 10 News WTSP-TV that I’m proud to be associated with (appearing on air once a month with VERTICAL).
I first realized I wanted to get to know him better hot off the heels of a WANDERLUST segment we did on air together, where I arranged for a fleet of very rare, exotic vintage cars to be delivered to the station. Jerome came flying out the doors, aiming for those cars with the thrilled enthusiasm of a child on a roller coaster. As I am myself a car freak, it was immediately clear, Jerome and I shared this in common.
So over lunch at Mad Dogs and Englishmen (a spot he chose in part because he’s a fan of 50s and 60s culture, and where he appreciates the availability of Boddingtons on tap) we discussed cars that get our heartbeats racing. If he could own any exotic auto in the world, Jerome picks the Ferrari Daytona. NICE. My first choice? The Aston Martin Vanquish.
From his phone, he showed me a picture of a 1959 Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday SceniCoupe he is restoring. It’s been in his family since his great uncle purchased it in 1959 and in Polaris White over SilverMist paint, the car looks pretty mint.
His first car was a somewhat trashed diesel Mercedes. “Everyone thought it was so cool because it was a Mercedes,” he says. “But the floors were rotted and to time its 0-60 performance you needed a calendar, not a stopwatch.”
So our delicious salads came—a chicken curry for him, mine had spinach, avocado and bacon—and in between leafy green bites, we visited some more.
I learned that before his TV career, Jerome was a radio DJ for 10 years on pop music stations, starting at WCIL-FM in Carbondale, Illinois where he was the market’s top rated radio personality. Pop is not his thing. He prefers alternative rock and standards like those loveable gems from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. It was during this portion of the discussion that it became clear that hearing “Red Red Wine” by UB40 or Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll” would likely make Jerome’s ears bleed.
“But it’s a great song,” he says in defense of the latter, perhaps realizing that his opinion on the matter is a bit snarky and that it could be alienating to others. I sense this because I can be the same way. Did I mention we are both Capricorns?
Back to why I’m wearing a smile to lunch (along with black jeans, a black and gold blouse, a gold branch necklace given to me by designer Dolly Donshey, gold shades, rad shoes and an arrowhead ring): It’s because Jerome is funny. And entertaining.
I almost always see Jerome in his zone—on set at Studio 10. He hosts the show alongside, Co-host and Producer Holley Sinn (who I’ve made no secret of thinking is one of the most fab gals in town) with super cool Executive Producer Mark Thorn and a team of good people.
Jerome’s style, which combines engaged interaction, humor and an element of surprise makes for entertaining television. Viewers are often treated to revelations of random knowledge he seems to have stored up, leading many to wonder, “what will he say next?”
It’s fun watching Holley navigate Jerome’s terrain, with her own keen sense of humor, intelligence and effortless wit.
“She is a genuinely good person,” Jerome insists of Holley in his list of the best things about her. “And she’s very good at what she does."
What he doesn’t like about his professional existence is, “Having to wear makeup. Other than that, I have no complaints.”
“Everyone’s got a great story to tell,” Jerome says. “And nothing is more entertaining than the truth.” He was describing the special occurrence when a story unfolds organically in the moment. Like when he got Jane Seymour to shed light on air about a time she and Christopher Reeve stole a plane and flew around together.
On the topic of romance, Jerome first discovered Mad Dogs and Englishmen while traversing MacDill Boulevard with the love of his life, wife Wendy Ryan (the cute-as-a-button ABC Action News Anchor). “She is a dream,” Jerome says.
He recalls that they thought it looked great so they popped in one afternoon. “We sat outside. Love their burgers.” His idea of a great date night with Wendy involves a jazz club with some good wine for her and a great martini for him.
So that was filling.
2 words 2 describe him according 2 him
Curious & Lucky
Favorite James Bond
Favorite TV Show
North by Northwest
Is it wrong that I didn't ask him about a favorite sports team?
Favorite thing about VERTICAL
The concept worked. It's well done. Legitimate.It's like something out of New York.
Editor’s Note: Thanks to Mad Dogs and Englishmen for treating us to lunch.
Meet LESLIE JOY ICKOWITZ
Leslie Joy Ickowitz possesses a passionate spirit devoted to exploring possibilities and her unique perspectives have earned her the reputation as an authority on the lifestyle experience. An avid world traveler, Leslie understands that the meaning of life lies in the journey. With appreciation for the beauty that surrounds her, she seeks opportunities to make a difference in her community, inspires others to achieve their potential, to get VERTICAL…and to be part of something fabulous!