Faces of New Canaan: Wendy Lowy Sloane


Even without a nationally syndicated radio show that in about two weeks will reach a five-year milestone, Wendy Lowy Sloane is a great candidate for a “Faces of New Canaan” profile.

Wendy Lowy Sloan on Pine Street in New Canaan. Credit: Michael Dinan

Wendy Lowy Sloane on Pine Street in New Canaan. Credit: Michael Dinan

A resident of the town since 2002, Lowy Sloane is not only deeply involved in the community—she’s spent several years as parent coordinator at her kids’ schools and as team mom for youth sports, and whose own kids have been in the New Canaan YMCA program for years (her son made the freshman NCHS team)—she also carries a sincere and abiding love for New Canaan people.

Those people include small business owners who help make the town go—she specifically mentions Barbara Cleary who 13 years ago prophetically “sold” Lowy Sloane on a vision of herself in the town, as well as Caren Forbes and Chef Luis Lopez, whom she calls “Cheffy”—as well as elected officials who wear multiple hats (Rob Mallozzi, Nick Williams, Tucker Murphy) and perhaps most of all, close friends discovered here who have become, she says, “my family.”

Wendy Lowy Sloan and Phil Donahue. Lowy Sloan worked on Donahue's hugely popular daytime talk show for years. Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Wendy Lowy Sloane and Phil Donahue. Lowy Sloane worked on Donahue’s hugely popular daytime talk show for years. Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

We learned all of this, as well as how Lowy Sloane got into the field of journalism, spanning a celebrity-filled TV career in Manhattan—during an interview (transcribed in full below) in the window at CT Sandwich Company on a recent morning.

Many thanks to Wendy for her time and candor. One final note before our interview: Readers can find podcasts of the show, “What’s Up With Wendy,” here on the 1490 AM—WGCH website (the anniversary special airs Jan. 9), and connect with her here on Facebook and here on Twitter.

New Canaan: So you said you’re from Miami originally. When did you move up to New Canaan?

Wendy Lowy Sloane: I was in New York City and shortly after Sept. 11, my heart was a little sick from Sept. 11, I had two babies, a year apart, and I just felt that I needed to get out of the city.

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

How did you get to New York City from Miami?

Moved a month or two after I graduated college.

Where did you go to college?

Florida State.

And what was your degree in?

Communications/Journalism. My minor was Theater.

OK, yes because you told me you had considered doing soap operas instead of going into television, on the production side?


Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

So how did you end up with Phil Donahue?

When I first got New York City, I worked for a modeling agency, Elite. It was when Cindy Crawford, Paula Barbieri, Stephanie Seymour, all those girls were just starting out. I ran their ‘Look of the Year.’ I stayed there for like a year. It kind of gave me money, my groundings in the city, figuring out everything, it was a great job. Rande Gerber was one of my really dear friends—


Rande Gerber. Who is married to Cindy Crawford. So it was basically taking care of the girls, going out to lunch. It was a really nice job. But I really wanted to be on a soap opera or in television. So I sent out a picture, just a plain picture, got four call-backs for soap operas.

When are we talking about now, ballpark?

1989, 1990.

So you graduated from college when?


Got it.

So this was very soon. My first job was with a modeling agency, and then I left. I went to work for this little kids’ show. There are production shows—three months at a time or six months or pilots. So I worked for this show ‘Way Cool.’ I don’t even remember what I did. I probably swept the floors and cleaned up and greeted guests. And somebody on the show said that Phil Donahue is having a new show, an international news, current events show with Vladimir Pozner, international journalist. So I got an interview, and I got the job. It was at NBC, Rockefeller Plaza.

How long did you work there?

It was about eight months. And then the executive producer of the Donahue show came up and said the girl that is the coordinator, who does the warm-up for the show, travels with the show, greets the guests, is going away on maternity leave and would you like the job?

That was your in.

That was my in.

You stayed in New York for about 10 years then?

Longer than that.

You got to New York in around 1990 and then you were about to say that you left after 9/11. Soon after.


So when were you married?

I got married in—I knew you were going to ask me all of these dates—in 1999, I want to say.

So you were already in New York for quite a while.

I was in New York for a while.

And if your kids are 13 and 14 now—

—I moved here [to New Canaan] when my son, who is 14, was a year old. So it was 13 years ago.

Why New Canaan?

Good question. I knew Greenwich and I knew Westport because Phil Donahue was in Westport and I had been there a lot.

How did you know Greenwich?

Just through word of mouth, I knew Greenwich, and I had friends there so I had been there a lot. But I knew the area of Connecticut because I had been in Westport a lot, at Phil’s house. And I went to Long Island, looked a little bit but it didn’t really feel like me. Came here and Barbara Cleary was our Realtor. She’s very old school.

You are saying your Realtor was Barbara Cleary. That’s one of the local real estate firms.


And you found a house in the East School district.

She kind of sold us on the town. I mean, the town is so cute.

Oh so Barbara Cleary herself was your Realtor?

Barbara Cleary herself.

Not the Guild in general but her.

No it was Barbara.

So how did she sell you on the town?

Oh, she’s really good at that. Great schools, great people. She knew my whole background, told me, ‘Oh you will be so involved, you’ll probably run the town, run the newspaper.’ She kind of said, ‘You are going to have a life here besides your kids.’ And as it turned out, I did. We fell in love with it.

With what?

The town, the people, the quaintness. All the restaurants. Everyone was so friendly, everybody was so welcoming. Nothing like when I grew up in Miami. Everything was so beautiful.

Were you in Miami-Miami?

South Miami.

I mean that’s a big change for a Florida girl.

New York City is a big change for a Florida girl.


When I was in television in the city, I knew everything and everybody.

Where did you live in the city?

On the Upper West Side.


Couple of different places. 72nd and Broadway. 85th and West End. But when I had my kids it was 85th and Central Park West.

So you are up here in the East School district.

East School. My kids went to Toddlertime. Loved it. I still speak to the teachers to this day. I run into them, we keep in touch. That is the kind of town it is. That’s why you love the town. Because the people, they come back.

That’s one of the things about this town. I had this experience with New Canaan, too, where I got a heads-up that they were going to decorate the firehouse on Sunday, and I sort of take it for granted that they decorate the firehouse each year, but what I came to find when I went to take pictures of the guys doing it, is that they have been decorating the firehouse in the exact same way for the 80 years that the building was been there and it’s been passed down through this sort of informal oral tradition among the firefighters, and they do it a certain way, and they come out on the first Sunday of December, rain or shine, sleet, snow and they do it.

It’s old school, and I’m very old school. I am very old-fashioned. So I liked the feeling instantly when I was here. The quaintness.

So tell me about starting out here.

I was in Toddlertime, I was the class mom. For both my kids.
Your kids were still a few years away from elementary school when you got here.

I went to Newcomers. I had one friend up here when I moved here. We had met in the city and she moved up here. We knew them.

You knew basically one person here.


And you got involved in Newcomers. Anything else?

I did the Young Women’s League a little bit but not much. Because I was busy. I had babies. Two babies.

Did they do Rec soccer?

They did Rec soccer, both of them, of course. What’s greater than that? It’s the cutest thing in the whole world. I wish they still did soccer.

And you stayed here.

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

Of course. I don’t think I ever want to leave, because my kids are going to want to come back and see their friends.

I feel like there are a lot of new residents—every year, yes—but you have actually seen a lot of changes in the town, too. When I grew up here and went to high school, and when you got here, we still had not hit some of the changes. Like with the residential building, it hadn’t changed that much. You mentioned restaurants as a draw for you, though I think it’s only in the last 10 years that New Canaan has become this real restaurant hub of lower Fairfeld County. In what ways as the town changed since you moved here in about early 2002?

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

Well for me it’s so familiar now, because now I walk into Chef Luis and I see Cheffy, and I know and love him. Everywhere I go. I know Caren Forbes. I feel like when I go into town, I will run into someone I know, a friend I know. When I go to a restaurant in town, I know I’ll see somebody. It feels like home. It is safe and this is a place far from my home and what has kept me here is the friends that I have made. That is truth, because when I got divorced, my friends rallied around me and sort of wrapped me in a cocoon. And I’ve seen it when friends have become sick—any time you need something—for me, that is what has kept me here. We have traditions with our friends, we have done Christmas Eve together every year for seven years.

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane


Yes, every Christmas Eve we spend it with the same group of friends.

Do you go to the same place or swap around?
Same house.

That’s really nice.


How many people are we talking about?

Four families, including me.

Your kids around the same age?

Mostly. There’s a little one who is in East School. It’s those traditions, and it has become a thing where I have my family here. A couple of my best friends and it’s my kids’ friends that have become my greatest friends. My best friends, one is in New York, one is in Long Island, two are in Miami still, but I have a family here.

Do you ever go back to Miami? You have family there?

Yes, my parents, and they visit here too. And that’s the thing, I would take my dad to Dunkin Donuts and there would be a bunch of men—you know, the men who always sit there?—they would hang out with my dad.

Oh yes.

Some of them have passed since.

Yes, Tommy Sirico passed. But you’ve got Lenny and John Buzzeo and all those guys.

But I will never forget Barbara Cleary saying to me, ‘You are going to run this town one day,’ and she just painted the picture so perfectly, and it’s kind of what I followed. I was the mom at Toddlertime, and then at East School I became the parent coordinator for the room moms. I ran the Fall Fair. When my son was in third grade and started playing football, I was the team mom, third through seventh grade.

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloan

Courtesy of Wendy Lowy Sloane

So in the third grade, your son started learning the Marinelli System. That’s what they do.

Third grade was the best year. It was the best year because they were so cute, so little. And for us parents, we might have gotten more joy out of it, because we had such a great group of parents. We did the tailgates and the parties.

That practice where they first learn how to tackle, that is a moment worth capturing. I remember the practice where my nephew learned that and filmed it.

And the best part about being the team mom was being there on the sidelines, so I felt a little safer being there, even though, what was I going to do, run out and protect him?
It’s happened.

It was an amazing year. We didn’t win many football games, our grade wasn’t great athetic-wise. But the freshman team this year, my son’s grade, they won a million games. They’re so good.

What about right now, what are you involved in locally?

Well I just was the manager for my son’s eighth-grade travel team, basketball. And I was lacrosse manager for my daughter’s team.

You had mentioned Chef Luis and Caren Forbes. Any other favorite spots?

I love Solé. Chef Luis is my favorite, though. They are so nice. I’ve never gone in there by myself but I feel like I could go in there by myself and hang out with all of them. And cheffy is always there and he’s so warm and wonderful.

He’s very involved, he tends to support causes.

He’s great. And I love Rob Mallozzi and Nick Williams, friends forever. We talked about doing something local with my show here, I had run into Tucker [Murphy], but it hasn’t worked out yet.

Talk about local people, they tend to do a lot of different things. Rob, longtime volunteer firefighter, was helping with the decorations on Sunday. Nick has been deeply involved in soccer with his kids doing it and his son Chase will graduate this year, I see him on the soccer sidelines, and Tucker you see everywhere, and a lot of these people wear these different hats.

We love Chicken Joe’s for the kids. We love Tony’s Deli, a favorite hotspot, we’d go there before each basketball game.

How did you get into radio from TV?

Toward the end of my career at ‘Geraldo.’ I was producing two shows a week. I was doing his celebrity news show, which is the hallmark of his shows—it was A.J. Benza, Cindy Adams, Richard Johnson, Mike Walker, I don’t know if you know them, New York Post—

—I know those names.

And then it was a celebrity and a news story. And that was every Thursday taped, out live on Fridays, religiously the highest-rated show. And I had just come off the JonBenét Ramsey story. So I had spent a year in Colorado, that was my baby. I was actually going in—it was maybe five o’clock in the morning, got my coffee, got my New York Post, took a taxi, go into CBS to my show, because I hadn’t written the open yet for celebrity news, and JonBenét was on the cover, and I went after that story immediately. So by the morning meeting, I had already booked it. I booked the mom’s best friends, I got the babysitter, the DA, so I owned the story and everybody wanted it. And I was promoted shortly after that. I had started as associate producer and I was in Colorado almost the whole year and doing two shows. I was doing my celebrity show and I was doing that, and I was burnt out. So Mike Walker—the National Enquirer, he’s on Howard Stern a lot, I don’t know if you know him—he said to me, and ‘Geraldo’ was almost going off the air. You don’t do things like that, normally people stay to the end to get the bonus and big party and send-off, but everybody else was going to be looking for jobs too, and I was exhausted. When you are a producer, it’s around the clock 24-7.

It’s very demanding.

Very demanding hours. I was getting tired.

What year are we now?

It must have been ’97 or ’98, around that timeframe. Maybe ’97 or early ’98, because I got engaged during that time, when I left. Because I had just met my future husband. So he [Mike Walker] said that Danny Bonaduce from ‘The Partridge Family’ is doing a radio show on Big 105. And I thought I was not going to go do radio. You don’t go from doing a television career as successful as I did, to going to do radio. There’s no way.

That’s not the trajectory.

I just couldn’t see it. But I was exhausted, I was burnt out. I was just so tired. And I was getting up there, I was in my early-30s, I was in that age range, so I went to meet them. I still pinch myself, when I think back about this amazing time, it seems like yesterday but seems like 100 years ago when I think about that life, which I couldn’t do now because I’m a different person, I’m a mom now and that is what I really always wanted to be is a mom. So anyway, they said you get there at five in the morning, the show is from six to ten, you are on the air with Danny in the beginning, you’re the executive producer. It is so easy to produce a radio show, you get a guest and every celebrity wants to do radio. Every celebrity you couldn’t get in television. Because they come, there’s no makeup, as it is, so they offered me a three-year deal, and I said yes. So I left ‘Geraldo,’ which wasn’t easy. There was a little bit of hurt, but I did what I needed to do. This was a great job for me. It was wonderful at the beginning, so easy. And it was different from WGCH, it was a very big radio station. And unfortunately after eight months, it was taken—I got bought out.

So how did you get your own show?

Well I got married, had my kids. Gave up everything, my whole career, to plan my wedding. My wedding was in Miami, had the kids and was really just going to focus on kids and staying home. Five-and-a-half years ago I was in Greenwich, out to dinner with some girlfriends at this restaurant called Polpo—

—I know it, off of Route 1 out toward Byram.

Yes, and the person that owned the station at the time was talking about the station, and I said that I wanted my own show. He said OK. I said, ‘No, I’m serious. I had a radio show, I can produce it. I think I can do this. Can I please have my own show?’ And he said, ‘OK come in for a meeting.’ And I did, we went back and forth for a few months, and I finally said, ‘You are going to give me a show or I’m going somewhere else.’ I had already come up with a theme, I knew it was good, I knew I could do this. They said, ‘Can you go on the air in two weeks?’ And that was Jan. 13, 2010.

I want to back up a minute. You had a focus in college where you realized you were going to do something like this. Where you were going to be in front of people in some way, whether it was on a stage or on a screen or behind the scenes producing people doing that. So I’m curious to know where that comes from in you. Did you do theater as a kid? Were you a musician? Were you on stage, one of these kids who was hamming it up?

Never. I remember that I loved to write.

As a kid?

As a kid. I remember sitting in my bedroom in a lounge chair and writing.

Did you love to read?


So you loved to write but not to read.


You liked to write what as a kid?

Poetry. And I always wanted to write a book as a kid, some kind of story. That was in my mind a little bit too. And then I don’t know, I can’t tell you where it came from. I was probably going to be an actress.

Were you acting in high school?

No. I was in the Dance Club in high school. I minored in theater in college, but it was always journalism, it was writing.

Did you write for a high school paper?

I didn’t. I wish I did.

You knew inside you, though.
I did.

And something in college turned you to this. So what did you find in Florida State in your coursework that solidified this in your mind?

I found a little bit of freedom because I was a little bit sheltered, not because of my parents but by my own choice. Middle-class family, close-knit family. I found that, ‘Wow this is exciting, college life.’ I found a sorority and a fraternity. School and studying wasn’t my main thing.

You were in a sorority.

I was in a sorority and I was a little sister for a fraternity.

I don’t know what that means.

They just have little sisters for fraternities.

What was your sorority?

Delta Gamma.

You came out of your shell in college, maybe?

I was always outgoing, had a lot of friends. Always outgoing, and school wasn’t my main priority, to be honest with you, until I got into my major, and I loved journalism. I loved telling a story. I loved being around people and I’m good with people, and I just said, ‘I’m going to be on television or I’m going to be on a soap opera.’ I lived in a bubble.

And when you graduated, you went to the Number One market.

I would have moved to L.A., but it was too far for my parents.

But you just up and went. How long after graduation did you end up in New York City?

Couple of months later, but I was lucky and fortunate. I had an apartment waiting for me.

On the Upper West Side?

On the Upper West Side.

How’s that?

My uncle owned a couple of apartments. So I was fortunate. My sister was there, I had a couple of relatives that were there, my girlfriend was living there at the same time.

You had some people there.

I had a little cushion. A pouch to get me going. I didn’t just pick up and go blind, so I was fortunate in that sense at the start. And I was able to take my time, I wasn’t panicked about money, I had help from my dad. And I could have followed the journey toward a soap opera, but after four call-backs I didn’t get the part, and this just happened.

How does the radio show work for you now, with you life? It sounds like the TV part of it was all-consuming and then you were able to step back. Around the time ‘Geraldo’ winds down, you’re getting married and you had your kids, and it sounds like this radio show out of Greenwich kind of came in behind that. Your kids were already in school.

Yes, and I was looking to do something for myself, for my head, and it was important for me to show my children that yes, I clean my own house, I don’t have a housekeeper, I make dinner every night, I take care of my kids, drive them everywhere, there’s no nanny. It’s important for my kids to know I can do it all. And sometimes I get tired and I have to sit down, but this was so easy for me to do because they gave me the choice to do it whenever I wanted to, and at first it was Thursdays, and then it became nationally syndicated so it was Fridays. It’s an hour. I leave my house at nine. I pre-record a lot during the week. So my kids get on the bus, I start recording at seven o’clock in the morning.

You are pre-recording what?

Interviews. Everything is not live.

At home?

Yes, I have an ISDN line at home.

And then you’re editing.

Ten, 12 interviews a day. But then they get old and they get stale so I can’t hold them. So I only take what I know I can fit. Because it’s syndicated, it’s only four segments a week, and I have to take a lot of breaks, because whatever I do local, it feeds out live syndicated that night on the other network. So I will do interviews—in other words, I will get 10, 15, 16 emails a day, having requests from people to interview someone—and I’m picky.

How far do you work ahead when you plan out your show?

My anniversary show is booked. It’s going to be Jan. 9.

So you’re a month out.

Sometimes I’m a month out. I have bookings in February and March. Certain people I took, but I’ll start my day at seven o’clock in the morning right when they are on the bus, I will start recording, and then I’m done. But I do my research. I read the books. If there’s an author on, I read the book. For the most part, I read 95 percent of the books.

You give them the respect of actually doing that work. I know not everybody does in your field.

And I think that’s why I get a lot of people back. And I don’t ask those questions that they ask me not to ask. Like when I had Stacy Keibler on and she was dating George Clooney and they said, ‘Please’—I said that’s OK, I had her on when she was dating him and I don’t really care to do that kind of trashy story. And this fits into my lifestyle, because if I go out and I try to solicit a sponsor, I set up my meetings and I’m thinking about picking up my daughter or going to basketball, my kids are always first in my mind, whatever I do. And there are other things happening next year possibly. The network may be expanding my national show and there’s talk of possibly a couple of TV shows.

So you’d be on camera?

Possibly. I’m scratching the surface to see. There is one that’s semi-local that might work out.

You have the background.

My dream is to have WGCH on the ground floor like this—[points outside the floor-to-ceiling windows at CT Sandwich Co.]—so that people can walk by. People love that, and we have a new owner who is definitely taking it to another place. I almost dropped national this year to make it full-time local. I would have been able to do more hour interviews, like this.

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