The impact of Lori Stokes’ retirement means that, for the first time in more than 20 years, viewers in the tri-state area will arise Monday morning without seeing her familiar face on their TV screens.
Stokes has officially ended her New York City broadcasting career, which started at WABC/Ch. 7 in 2000 and ended Friday with her final broadcast on WNYW/Ch. 5 which she joined in 2017 — co-anchoring “Good Day New York” with Rosanna Scotto; starting in June 2021, she anchored the station’s 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.
Stokes, 60, talked about her distinguished career and her retirement plans in a wide-ranging interview with The Post.
What led to your decision to retire?
I don’t know if it’s one thing. I’ve been an open book my whole TV career, particularly when anchoring a morning show [where] you’re putting it out there. Everyone has known me raising my children, getting a divorce, taking care of my parents [and] seeing them through their journey to the other side. I think it’s been a combination of me being there for everyone and waking up and realizing I kind of needed to stop and take care of me. My [daughters] are 30 and 27, my parents are gone now, and I thought to myself, “I’ve worked hard, been successful and have been very blessed in this town. It’s now time to take a step back and take care of Lori.”
Do you have anything mapped out for the future?
Yes and no. I am going to disappear for one month on one of my favorite islands, and then I will go back to my roots in Ohio. I have a lot of projects I need to do. My dad [Louis Stokes] was a US congressman for years [representing Cleveland’s East Side] and when I was taking care of him when he was in hospice he said, “I guess I never thought I’d be in this situation because I was so busy living.” His legacy is secure — buildings named after him — and he also left a ton of memorabilia, papers and photos, at our house in Maryland. I’m the keeper of all this historical work of his and I have not only an obligation, but also the passion, to see that all his materials get to the right place in Cleveland. So that’s going to be a major project. I’m also on the board of trustees of the Cleveland Clinic [and several other organizations] so I want to dedicate my time to those projects. In the back of my mind, a documentary here, a book there … for the first time since I was 13, I’m not working and don’t have to be told what to do.
What are your most memorable moments as a news anchor in New York City?
Certainly 9/11, because we spoke to some of the individuals in the towers — Bill Ritter and I [on Ch. 7] spoke to James Gartenberg on the 86th floor [in the North Tower] and he always stands out in my mind because he was so calm and I remember him saying that the core [of the tower] was blown out and there was debris covering the door and I remember saying to him, “The NYPD and FDNY are on the way, Jim, you’re going to be OK,” and he kept saying, “I want to let my wife and other people know that everything is OK.” We just didn’t have any idea of what would ultimately happen; we were just so used to talking that when we saw the towers disintegrate it was just silence — we had no words. At the time I had little children and I was [in the city] all day long and I called home to talk to the girls and they both thought that everyone in New York had died. I remember about 3 or 4 o’clock walking out to Columbus Avenue and it was a ghost town; [fellow Ch. 7 anchor] Steve Bartelstein and I walked across the street to a bar and everyone was just staring at the television. No words were spoken. It was as if all of us were one that day.
What do you think is your legacy after so many years here?
I have been very fortunate. New Yorkers can scope out those who are not authentic and I think that’s the only thing they ask of you — just be real and tell me like it is. That has been a major secret to my success. I’ve always just been me; I don’t put on any airs, I try to be kind and I care about what I do every single day. I’ve been rewarded for that by New Yorkers and I will be forever grateful for it.