She’s been a mainstay on WNBC for a dozen years. But Ida Siegal is now finding a different audience. Siegal just penned her first children’s book series, Emma Is on the Air, which chronicles an eight-year-old with dreams of becoming a TV reporter.
Siegal’s idea came directly from her own experiences covering stories.
“When I’m out in the field and I’m in the NBC News truck, we get approached by children all the time,” Siegal tells Tuned In.
She says those inquisitive kids usually ask if Siegal is famous and how can they get on TV.
“There’s a real, genuine enthusiasm with these children, and it doesn’t matter who the child is, what the economic background is, what neighborhood we’re in; it’s pretty much across the board everywhere we go,” Siegal says.
She fills a void by teaching curious children about journalism, thanks to Emma’s make-believe reporter experiences. Siegal takes it step further, putting the lead character in the first person.
After a couple of years of countless rejections, attending conferences and paying to have her manuscript analyzed, she was welcomed at Scholastic.
The Channel 4 reporter says the book is not autobiographical, but she would have enjoyed reading it as a kid. Growing up, Siegal was planning to be an actress, like her mom.
“I ultimately switched paths after I met Peter Jennings,” Siegal says.
The career change took place thanks to participating in the first Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work in 1993. The organization came to her Manhattan high school seeking volunteers where she was smitten by the ABC News anchor.
“I thought he was phenomenal. I told my parents, ‘I thought I’d met the smartest man in the world.'”
While Siegal isn’t basing the characters on her own life, she doesn’t go far for inspiration.
“Emma’s look and her curly hair is all my daughter, and her kooky, spunky personality is all my son.”
They also were the perfect test audience as her book came to life.
“Once it was put together I would read it to them and see what they thought of it,” Siegal admits. “They thought it was hilarious.”