NBC4's Doug Kammerer and Jim Vance talk over lunch at BLT Steak.
The popular 28-day dry-aged, bone-in NY strip.
The Cocchi Monster cocktail features Cocchi Americano with bourbon, Cointreau, and lemon.
NBC4 fans enjoy Doug Kammerer and Jim Vance's natural chemistry.
BLT Steak's menu informs guests about different cuts of meat.
The restaurant draws crowds in downtown DC.
by leslie quander wooldridge | October 29, 2013 | People
Freshly baked popovers arrive at our BLT Steak table, and Jim Vance claims one quickly. “You’re not polite when you have a big family—you just go for it,” he laughs, leaning back in the booth. He’s not shy about food, and not shy about anything, really. That’s part of what has made him media royalty in this town. A fixture on NBC4 since 1969, Vance moved from general assignment reporter to news anchor in 1972—and he’s won nearly 20 Emmys over the years. Known as the affable anchor who gets real on the air—and laughs at himself and others—he’s been working with chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer for about three years. The two have several things in common: Vance was raised in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and Kammerer worked in Philly for several years after growing up in Herndon, Virginia. The two also share a love of sports and a straight-up good time. Here, in their first interview together, over loaded potatoes and 20-ounce bone-in NY strips (a hit), they talk media, good meals, and staying authentic on TV.
Vance, you’ve been doing the news at NBC4 for more than 40 years. How do you keep things fresh?
JIM VANCE: It’s not hard. The nature of the business allows that. One of the things that I love about this business is that every day is a bit different than the day before. Also, it’s almost a noble pursuit to find out what’s going on, on an everyday basis, then tell people about it. And the third thing is when you work with people you respect and really like, it makes such a difference. I love seeing where the knife is coming from in [co-anchor] Doreen [Gentzler]. She has the sharpest wit.
DOUG KAMMERER: That, to me, was one of the big reasons I came here, and it’s one of the best reasons to go to work. When we’re on the set, we’re having such a great time even during commercials. And most of the time it’s right after weather; it’s never before weather. I don’t know if it’s at my expense or what.
JV: [Laughs] It usually is. On the downside, we don’t get to talk now like Bob [Ryan, former chief meteorologist] and I did… because we need to move along right after the weather’s done.
DK: I think what you miss are the little gems that show the viewer that we like to have fun. I grew up here. I grew up watching these guys; I felt like I knew them. Some days I realize I’m fulfilling my lifelong dream.
So how did you get used to working together?
JV: I worked with Bob for 30 years and got to know him very well. Doug came in, and it became apparent immediately that there were similarities. This dude loves meteorology. He is passionate about weather in the same way that Bob was. Also, I kind of live vicariously through Doug because he’s an athlete. He loves himself some baseball; he used to play ball in college. I hate him for that. [Laughs] Doug has joie de vivre. I can’t help but admire that.
You’re both on the air at night. When do you have dinner?
DK: Once we’re done at 7, we do our promos and then we can go. I go home and eat with my family most nights. We have a good dinner break: one and a half to two hours.
JV: Every now and again we go to trivia night. We’ll go in there; we eat bad food. Doreen, Doug, [former sports anchor Dan] Hellie, and I would go as a foursome. We did pretty good.
DK: The only thing we’re not good at is music.
We’re enjoying BLT Steak, but where else do you like to go?
DK: I love sushi. A good buddy of mine loves to go to Ping Pong [for dim sum]. I love a good steak: I would go to Ruth’s Chris every day of the week if I could. I like the butter sauce on the steak, and I always get the T-bone.
JV: In the past 10 years or so, I go home [more]. For the past 20 years, I’ve had an extended dining room—I’m reluctant to tell you where because I don’t want a whole bunch of people going there and messing up my groove. [Laughs] My second favorite would probably be Acadiana or Oya. I’m a fan of consistency. Every time I’ve been in Oya I get a good meal, good service, lovely ambience.
What do you like to drink, if you’re sipping?
DK: Crown Royal. But I really like Seagram’s VO.
JV: That’s old school. [Laughs]
JV: Sometimes I get to the bar, and they have no idea what I’m ordering. I went on a cruise 13 years ago with my buddies, and I started drinking Crown Royal. But when that was too expensive for me, VO seemed to work.
Back to news. You have fun on the air. What’s the key to a good team?
DK: We can all give each other crap and we enjoy it—and nobody ever takes it personally.
JV: In my experience, a couple of things have become clear. You cannot, on any broadcast medium, get away with [BS-ing] people. People appreciate and reward honesty. I’ve always been in awe of the fact that people allow us into their homes. If you do television on a consistent basis, people feel comfortable getting into your life and telling you what they think. Sometimes people get bothered or offended by that; I love it. A lot of times, they’re right.
photography by greg powers
August 29, 2018