At Home With Kathleen Bade & Family
Fox 5 news anchor Kathleen Bade is showing us around the comfortable Scripps Ranch home she shares with husband, Jeff, and teenagers, Jackson and Campbell. The house was a “big fixer upper” when they bought it years ago, what Jeff calls “a classic 1980s style with funny halls and funny rooms.” Adds Kathleen, “It’s not necessarily the floor plan you would dream of or design, but we made the best of it. And it has our fingerprints all over it. It definitely is a reflection of us.”
The result is a lovely, livable home filled with meaning and memories: gifts from friends and artwork acquired on vacations, including Kathleen’s prized paintings purchased from a Parisian artist who displayed his wares along the Seine. Framed family photographs are everywhere, so many, in fact, that Bade quips she might need a “frame intervention.” “They are my works of art,” she explains. “I like to be surrounded by the things that make me happy.”
The family especially loves being outdoors in their big, two-level backyard. The upper level has a swimming pool, bocce ball court, and a fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs; the lower level includes a basketball court, with a pitching machine soon to come. It is a popular spot for this athletic family: Jackson plays baseball, Campbell, basketball (the whole family skis). Weeks are filled with practices and games, as well as sporting events at San Diego State, where Jeff is general manager of Aztec Sports Properties, the multimedia rights holder and sports marketing arm for SDSU athletics.
It was sports, in fact, that brought Kathleen and Jeff together more than two decades ago, while both were working for the Phoenix Suns. He was in marketing; she was in community relations. It was her first day on the job when Jeff told a colleague, “I’m going to marry that girl.”
“Dude,” the co-worker responded. “She is way out of your league.”
Five months later, they were engaged — the announcement publically made on the jumbotron at America West Arena. They married in 1994 on New Year’s Eve, with a festive reception at the Arizona Biltmore.
In 2001, Kathleen, who was then anchoring at Fox in Phoenix, got an offer from San Diego’s KFMB-TV. Jeff, who had been “looking for opportunities to get us out of the heat,” was all for the move. She worked nights while he stayed home with new baby Jackson. Jeff later started a company in the sponsorship consulting business.
Eight years ago, Kathleen helped launch Fox 5 San Diego, helming the nightly anchor desk while also covering major news stories and special events.“It’s been such a great ride,” she says. “When you are launching a station, and you bring in all these new people all at once, it’s almost like that college dorm experience. You form these incredible bonds as you’re building something together. To be able to be on the ground floor and to see how far we’ve come, it’s just been the best part of my career, hands-down. I feel really, really fortunate. I have made lifelong friends there. It’s been such a welcome and wonderful surprise.”
Kathleen credits her husband with helping her juggle a family and a high profile news job.
“The fact that I have this life, I really owe it to Jeff because of the kind of partner and father he is. He rolls up his sleeves,” says Kathleen. “I couldn’t do this career if it weren’t for him. I wouldn’t be able, as they say, to have it all, have a family. It just wouldn’t work.”
he also compliments Fox 5 for its family-friendly policy. “If they weren’t that way, I would have to make different decisions because I don’t want to miss [the kids’] games. I don’t want to miss any part of their lives. To me, that just wouldn’t be worth it. I don’t want them to ever feel, when they look back on their childhood, that Mom wasn’t there, or that I put them second. The station really understands that and they work with me. I tell people all the time I work for this management ‘dream team.’ I love who I work with and who I work for. I know how lucky I am.”
Kathleen also considers herself fortunate to have co-anchored with Loren Nancarrow, the veteran newsman who lost his battle with brain cancer in late 2013. When first told she would be working with Nancarrow, long a fixture in the San Diego news market, Bade told management, “I trust your judgment — I’m willing to ride on an icon’s coattails.” The two formed a unique friendship. “He would hate me saying this — he would much prefer I call him a ‘sexy uncle,’” she laughs, “but he almost became a father figure to me. I relied on him for advice with the kids and just life because he was such a down-to-earth, authentic guy, didn’t put on airs — and he was a lot of fun on top of that.” As she fights back tears, she adds, “I truly enjoyed him and I deeply missed him when he left. Watching his illness was really difficult. And then his not being there and going into work without him was really tough.”
Through Nancarrow, Kathleen’s family became involved with the San Diego Brain Tumor Foundation, which provides comfort and support to patients and their families through a variety of services. They are also passionate about the Eric Paredes Save a Life Foundation, named after the 15-year-old who died from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). Paredes’ parents founded the organization to prevent other teenage fatalities from SCA through simple heart screenings and education. Jeff also served for many years on the board of the Huntington’s Disease Society San Diego as the result of his friendship with Chargers PR Director Bill Johnston, whose wife, Ramona, has the disease. He also helps out with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s annual MS Golf Invitational (friend and former colleague Rich Israel is president of the local chapter).
Still, their children remain the center of their loves. “It’s funny — you have children and they become a part of your life and then there is this transition that seems to happen overnight where all of a sudden, you’re part of theirs,” Kathleen reflects. “They’re sort of steering the ship of what we do for weekends and travel and trips. It’s a real privilege and pleasure to just watch them grow.” Andrea Naversen