How I Get It Done: Jamie Stelter

Illustration: Lauren Tamaki

Jamie Stelter’s workdays start while the rest of the city’s still asleep. As NY1’s longtime traffic reporter, she often has to break unfortunate news to New Yorkers about their commutes. She’s also part of the main morning team for “Mornings on 1,” NY1’s new, live three-hour morning show. Stelter lives in Manhattan with her baby daughter, Sunny, and her husband, CNN correspondent Brian Stelter. Here, she shares how she gets it all done.

On a typical morning
I’m going from the second my alarm goes off. This morning, my alarm went off at 2:54 a.m. — it was a hair-wash day. On non-hair-wash days I wake up at 3:04. While I’m still in bed, I check my email and my Slacks. I don’t respond to anything, but I quickly glance through to see what’s on the radar and what’s super-pressing. At some point I scroll through Twitter, but again, it’s just super-fast to see anything major that’s going on. And then I shower, get ready, and I’m out the door pretty quickly because I have to be at work to start hair and makeup by 3:30 a.m. on hair-wash days.

When I’m in the hair and makeup chair at work, that’s when I’ll scroll through Instagram and see what I missed overnight. I’ll scroll through Twitter again, a little more seriously. That’s when I’ll also read my husband’s newsletter from the night before that he sends out after I go to bed. At 4:15 a.m. is when our two head producers for the show and Pat [Kiernan] will come into the makeup room and we’ll go over everything that we’re gonna be talking about. From there, it’s running in and out of the studio, making sure that my traffic maps are loaded up and ready.

On coffee
I’m a brand-new coffee drinker. When I was pregnant, I had never been that tired before in my life. I started drinking not even a half a cup — I would make one of those four-ounce Keurig things at work and dump out half of it. Now I’m a full-on caffeine-head, and I have my cup of coffee, and then I sit there and I think: “Should I have another cup of coffee?” “Do I need another cup of coffee?” “Is this gonna mess me up when I try and take a nap later?”

On winding down
I put my daughter, Sunny, to sleep at 5:30 p.m. every night. I’ll make dinner for Brian and I, pick out my clothes for the next day if they’re not already picked out — I try and pick out my clothes on Sunday for the week, but that doesn’t always happen. Then usually what happens is we’ll get in bed and try and watch a show together, then I’ll go to sleep. I’m asleep by 7–7:30 p.m. — 8 p.m. at the latest — most nights.

On non-news TV
Right now we’re watching This Is Us. We’re watching Scandal. The Americans, we’re still watching; we’re finishing last season, I don’t even know when in the year that was actually on. We used to simultaneously be in the middle of like 12 different shows, and now we can only manage two or three.

On balancing being a new mom with her schedule
I think I have great mom hours. I leave when she’s asleep, and I’m done for the day… usually at 10 — but there’s always been some kind of meeting or something that keeps me at work until close to noon, and then I try to work out. We have our nanny here until around three o’clock so then I relieve her and then I’m with Sunny for the rest of the day until she goes to sleep. I think it’s just moms in general, no matter what hours you work you just you don’t get a minute, you don’t have a chance to rest or take a nap or run all the errands you want to do. I’ve had the same to-do list for the last like 17 weeks; seriously, I think I’ll probably stay that way forever.

On napping
I used to take a nap almost every single day. Brian says I can’t nap anymore because I’m a mom and I’m on high alert at all times. I hope that that’s not the case because I find that to be really depressing.

On unplugging when you and your partner both work in the same industry … and it’s media
It’s easier for me to turn things off because I work on a shift schedule; for the most part, when I’m home from work, I’m not working. For him, he’s sort of always on. It’s really hard. I think we probably talk about work and have the TV on and are sort of going, going, going more than is healthy. I’ll have my moments and I’ll just say to him like, “It’s enough. Put down your phone or close the laptop or, I cannot have CNN on for one more second today.” I think Sunny helps with it because you want to be present for her and you want to give her your attention without holding her in one hand and scrolling through Twitter with the other hand — which we are super guilty of and I’m not going to pretend like we’re amazing parents in that way. I don’t know if there is such a thing as balance, I think you just you do the best you can and the nature of the news cycle and the nature of our jobs — and his job especially — is that in order to be successful and in order to stay on top of all the news, you sort of have to always be dialed in.

On people complaining about the subway delays
A lot of people say all sorts of things to me like “Why can’t you get my A train running?” or “Can’t you fix Penn Station?” A lot of people — I think because I sit in front of the green screen — think I do the weather or they think I have control over the weather. So they complain about the weather to me also. I get more of it on social media than I get in real life. People on Twitter never hold back complaining to me. But I think that they also know from my tweets and what I say on TV that I’m on their side.

On dealing with subway delays herself
Well, I always say that the best thing about my job is that I don’t commute at regular hours. [Laughs.]  It’s one of the big, big, big perks of waking up at the crack of dawn.

How I Get It Done: Jamie Stelter