Zinni, Zidi, Zici: Fox 8's Mark Zinni on Working for TV News, Gossip, Black Bears, his Coworkers and More 

Mark Zinni: I'm off today, so it doesn't matter how long we talk.

Vince Grzegorek: When do you sleep? Weird schedules because of your early morning hours on the weekend morning show?

My schedule is pretty basic. I work Saturday and Sunday mornings, so I get up at 3:30 a.m. on the weekends. But during the week, it's normal. I report for the 4, 5, 6 and 7 o'clock newscasts.

Does anyone really need four straight hours of you guys squawking about the local news? Let alone, stuff that's not really news?

You know, even some of us at work wonder about that. But just based on the ratings, people do enjoy watching it. There is an audience for everything we do, otherwise we wouldn't be doing it. We do a very good job of bringing people in. Do I watch that much news? No, and I'm a news guy. But my mom, who's home at 4 p.m., watches.

Are you the guy behind @ClevelandTMZ?

No. [Laughs.] I am not. But I get a real kick out of the guy, whoever he or she is. There are theories at work about who it is. I've heard a name thrown around. I don't know the person, though. I don't have enough time to be doing that account, what with my own Twitter and everything else. No time to negotiate that at all. I'd mess up and tweet something from my own account and give myself away.

What's the name that you've heard?

I don't want to call anyone out.

Come on.

A former radio guy has a theory, but it's his theory not mine. He happens to know some of my coworkers, so that's how I heard it, but I didn't make the guess that I've heard.

Give us a hint. Radio? TV? Print?

Radio. I don't want to say! He's been so nice to me, if it's the guy.

Is it Anthony Lima?

I haven't heard that before.

What about Chad Zumock? People think it's him, and since it's generally not funny, they may be right.

I get a kick out of some of them! I've heard Chad's name mentioned.

Are TV news people inherently goofy and weird and that's why they go into this, or do most of them shtick it up for the camera?

Well, I can tell you from my own experience, I was drawn to it because I'm a personality. Even before I was on TV, I was a personality. I don't take things seriously. I loved what TV had to offer, which is a chance to go into the community and tell stories and meet people. You have to be a little crazy to do this. You have to not take yourself seriously. The emails are too nasty, and you hear from people with mean things to say. You can't take it seriously, otherwise you won't be able to close your eyes at night.

Is Fox 8 ever going to live down the bear video?

That happened before my time. Todd Meany is a very, very creative guy, and I think that if something lives on, then mission accomplished to him. It's about web hits these days and all that, so it got that and continues to get that.

What's your most embarrassing moment on air?

Honestly, it's hard to think of one. I'm trying to go through all the places I've worked at.

Where have you worked?

I started in Erie, Pa.; then Wheeling, W.V.; then Providence; then Salt Lake; then here.

Here's a chance to throw some dirt on your competitors while you think. What do you think of the other stations in town?

I would say this, and I'm being real: There are great people working all around town. I am not the kind of person who goes out on a scene and doesn't talk to the other reporters. I'm not in this to make enemies. I truly believe, however, that I work at the best station in Cleveland. It just has the best people. We aren't putting on a fake show. We aren't a consultant-driven show. We aren't doing things someone from out of town is telling us to do. The viewers relate to that. My friends at the other stations are always wondering, "What is Fox 8 doing?" Well, we're just doing our thing.

Since you won't bust on your competitors, you want to dish some dirt on a coworker?

I'm trying to think of which coworker wouldn't come after me.

You're a nice guy, I'm sure they'll understand.

Well, people love Kristi Capel. She has a tendency to take off her shoes in the studio. I think it's because she's on air for so long and it's just comfortable.

That's some lame dirt. No one's taking off their pants?

Well, when I worked in West Virginia I used to do the news in shorts since I was constantly running around the newsroom.

Anyone ask for your autograph when you're out? Surely not, right?

Sometimes. But not a lot. If it's an event they ask for pictures. I will say this: I would rather someone come say hello to me rather than stare at me at dinner. That's what I would say: Just come say hello and then go eat your dinner. The staring on my part is weird because I'm afraid they're not really looking, you know? Then it all backfires.

TV news should have long ago prepared you for looking like an idiot in that case.

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