The Big Story

Interviewing a
journalist presents its own special challenges because, as Maurice
DuBois said to me at the start of our interview, “I know all your
tricks.” He was being playful of course, but fortunately for me I didn’t
need any. In the course of our interview, DuBois was open, friendly,
funny and reflective. You don’t really know a person after spending an
hour with them, but I did walk away from our interview feeling like I
understood why regular viewers of CBS 2 News This Morning—which airs
from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays—like starting their mornings with him. DuBois
is classy and substantial but also unpretentious and good-humored. I’m
not sure how much he has shared about his home life with his show’s
viewers but my sense is that his style is more professional than
personal, and therefore New York Family readers should consider
themselves the lucky ones. For DuBois is as proud and passionate about
his two-year-old son Brandon as a dad can be.

Please tell me that you’re a morning person, and that you’re not living a life of torture?

I wish I could, but I’m not. I do this because it’s a great gig. The work is fun. The hours are a bit difficult—I wake up at 3:30 am—but you make them work for you.

So what time are you going to bed?

I go to sleep around 9 o’clock every day. Sometimes I’ll beat Brandon to bed. I’m the only guy I know who actually goes to bed before his two-year-old. Him and mom will tuck me in.

Did you always want to be a journalist?

My dad suggested in high school that I take a journalism class. Here I was at Port Jefferson High School on Long Island. I never even considered journalism or heard the word to speak of—or maybe I had but I hadn’t absorbed it. But I took a class in 9th grade and loved it. I became enamored with the idea that you can take a notepad and pen and go ask people questions and learn things of any type, come back and put it to paper and go do it again tomorrow.

I went from this class to becoming sports editor for the high school newspaper to writing for a local newspaper in the community and then ultimately going to college for journalism.

What are some of the proudest moments in your career so far?

I’m not sure about proudest, but what I find the most exciting is being in the moment of live breaking events when news is happening and no one really knows what to make of it, and you’re on the air and you can talk your way through it and bring it home and make sense of something that’s disjointed or complicated or frightening. I really enjoy live TV. I love the challenge—it’s a bit of a high wire act.

How has being a dad impacted you as a journalist?

You always try to do as well as you could. But since becoming a parent, what I find is that when you come across stories that involve children, families, loss, and human tragedy, there’s a connection you instantly get, and it’s more visceral than
it used to be. That might have to do more with maturation but I think
it’s more to do with having a family. Anything happening to a child
anywhere on this earth, it gets your attention.

Can you tell me about
your son, Brandon?

Brandon is two years and one month. The thing that surprises me
most about him is how funny he is. How much we laugh. He’s basically a
very happy little guy. He loves to play, loves to read, loves cars,
loves to throw balls, and loves to go to the playground. And he’s very
curious. He doesn’t miss a trick. He listens to everything you say.
He’ll repeat new words he hasn’t heard yet, and it comes right back at
you. So you have to keep it clean, as every parent knows. The other day I
was getting ready to leave the house, got him all dressed up and
everything, and his mom was in the bathroom. So I said, “Tell Mommy it’s
time to leave the house.” So he runs to her—he runs everywhere—and goes
“Hey Babe, Daddy’s ready.” That’s typical Brandon.

Do you have a favorite
children’s book?

“Goodnight Gorilla.” I can’t get enough of that book. I think the
genius is in the minimalist style of writing. They let you tell the
story. And I think I’ve told it about 50 times.

Did you always know you
wanted to be a dad?

No question. It wasn’t an accident; it wasn’t a mistake. It’s
something I’ve always wanted, absolutely.

Has the power of being a parent caught you
off guard at all?

I don’t think anything prepares you for being a parent. It’s just
like a switch goes on. One minute he’s not here, the next minute he is
and all these instincts that you’ve heard about but never experienced
suddenly envelop you—this need to nurture and protect and do the best
for this little person. I don’t think anything prepares you for the
wonder of it, the joy. As far as frustration goes, I don’t know about
that just yet. He’s only two. To me, he lights up when I come home, and
there’s nothing like it. I’ve heard about it for years, but when it
finally happened to me, it’s been amazing.

No “terrible twos”?!

I’m not sure what
that means just yet. There are moments where he’s running wild, but it’s
not anything yet that’s overbearing or overwhelming.

Can you compare yourself
as a father to your father?

I do know that my dad did not change diapers.
That’s one thing I know. I’m in there! But I had a great dad. He worked
hard and did everything for us. He’s an amazing role model. I hope that I
can live up to that standard.

Do you feel like you have any specific challenges
right now as a parent?

This is really the first inning. He’s two years old,
so we’re rookies at this. But you can see where parenting is going to be
a challenge because children have minds of their own. What they’re
programmed to do is stretch out and test boundaries. And he’s gotta try
everything—he’s gotta see, he’s gotta play, he’s gotta pull, he’s gotta
check it out. If he wants to run around, he’s gonna run around, and
we’re not really at the time-out phase. He’s just starting to get the
concept of, “You need to calm down.”

How do you and your wife share parenting duties?

She works from
home and we’ve got some help three days a week. So it’s mostly Mom
during the week, with a little bit of Dad. But the weekends are all
about co-parenting. It’s important that we’re there. We both grew up in
twoparent households where family is a big deal and still is. Our
parents were home all the time, and it was all about the kids and all
about the family. Both sets of grandparents are still with us. My
parents are on Long Island; hers in Atlanta. Those are our role models.

New York City
parents can be endearingly and not so endearingly neurotic. How are you
handling the craze to get into the right nursery school?

My impression is that you
don’t want to be too crazy or too laid back about it. I think you want
to be thorough. Basically there’s the hype and the reality. If you
listen to the hype you think that everyone’s losing their mind and
pulling hair about the whole school thing. When in reality you have to
be educated about what’s out there and what options are available. So
we’re learning. We’re looking for the best match for our little guy, for
his disposition and his style of learning.

What’s an ideal family Saturday or Sunday
for your family? Do you like planning activities or just seeing how the
day goes?

do both ways. Let’s say it’s Saturday. I don’t get to wake up with him
during the week but he’s a little bit of a slow-to-wake-up kind of kid,
and on Saturday I’ll change him, get a bottle, and ease our way into the
day and play. I’ll make a big breakfast or something.

Are there any places in the city you love to take

Children’s Museum of Manhattan is an unbelievable institution. He takes
a class there, sort of like a preschool class. We did his second
birthday party there. Asphalt Green is also outstanding.

Does celebrity get in
the way of your ability to go out and about as a family?

No. People are
friendly. That’s part of the deal, that’s what you sign up for.

Do you find your son’s
childhood very different from your own?

I grew up on Long Island in
neighborhoods where people knew everybody’s name. We played out all day
and when the streetlight went out it was time to go home. People
watched each other’s kids, and there was a community there. In New York,
most of us don’t even know our own neighbors next door. But you’re
still social and you encounter so many different people.

You step out of your
apartment, and there’s routine, the relationship with the doorman, the
guys in the garage…Brandon’s exposed to a lot of things just living in
Manhattan that you just don’t get anywhere else. By the time he’s five
he’ll have had access to people, places and institutions that I never
would have. That’s just part of living in New York.

So you like raising your
son in the city?

I love it. You’ve got all this social life for a child, all the
culture, all the sports, all the parks, world class everything. If you
have the ability to provide that for your child, I say go for it. How
could you not?