I met Dominique Sachse, yikes, about 30 years ago. Both of us were new to Houston media — I came here from Phoenix, she’s from here. She was dubbed the “traffic girl” at KHMX-FM radio — The Mix 96.5.
I was writing for the Houston Post and the “The Mix” station general manager had asked me to write some material for the morning show because “my hosts don’t have a funny bone in their bodies."
Dominique, just her first name is necessary — everybody knows who you’re talking about — was charming from the start, an unstoppable personality, smart, eager, instantly likeable and easy to root for. I thought, “poor girl will never make it, this business will eat her up.”
I once thought about writing a book about Houston media people called “What they’re really like,” but was concerned that I might have to include a chapter about myself.
The chapter on Dominique would be one sentence: “same as what you see on TV.” I used to think she’ll never survive in media, now I wonder how she did.
I’m happy for her success and impressed that she still pretends to know me.
A former TV news boss once told me, “When you talk about charisma in Houston TV, the conversation starts and ends with Dominique.”
As CultureMap reported, Dominique will leave Channel 2 at the end of this month, at the end of 28 years with the station, the longest-running prime time female news anchor ever in Houston. As you’ll see later in this Q&A, I don’t believe she’s done in television, although she’s become wildly successful as a social media influencer, motivational speaker and has a book coming out next spring.
More about the book as we get closer to the pre-sale on October 29, same day as her final newscast on Channel 2.
But for now, 15 questions for the most beloved news anchor on TV:
CultureMap: When you were a little girl at Frostwood Elementary, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Dominique Sachse: I had no clue what I wanted to be, but I loved art and creative writing, so it seems I fell into the right line of work.
CM: What was your first pro job in broadcasting and how did you get it?
DS: My first broadcasting job was at Metro Traffic Control. It was a few weeks after graduation in the summer of 1990.
One of my professors at UH, Dr. Bob Musburger, contacted me saying there was an open position at Metro for a part-time weekend traffic reporter for KTRH and KLOL. I auditioned and got the job, while still doing temp work during the week and some acting and voiceover jobs to help pay the bills.
CM: What was the moment or event in your early career that made you think, this is for me, I'm hooked?
DS: I was one year into my traffic position at KPRC, and I was asked to fill in for a vacationing anchor. It was during that week the San Jacinto River fire happened, and I had to cover the breaking news. As they say, the bug bit.
I loved being unscripted and telling the story as it was happening. It was a rush and allowed my radio training to kick in. That’s when I knew news would become my work.
CM: Early on, did any instructor, station boss, or friend suggest that you adopt a professional name and drop Sachse for something easier to remember and spell. Did that happen and why did you stick with Sachse?
DS: Ironically, that never happened. I started in this business when it became cool to have an original name instead of a stage one. Funny though, people will come up to me and say, ‘Aren’t you Dominique Sanchez?’
5. CM: Tell me about the first autograph you signed. Were you like every kid who dreamed of being well known one day and practiced signing your autograph?
DS: I always practiced my signature as a child. My dad had a really cool one. He was a naval architect, so his signature had a linear, design-like look to it. So I had two.
One that was like his for signing checks and business documents quickly and one that was a little more decorative and flowing for photo cards, although I never knew or believed I’d be signing them. Can’t remember the first one, but it was most certainly at a Channel 2 event in the community.
CM: Twenty-eight years later, you’re a top anchor in a Top 10 market in America. You've gone from being the new kid in town to the voice of experience. Can you believe this has happened?
DS: The word surreal is used often, but I feel it best describes it. Twenty-eight years at one place is practically my entire adult life, let alone working at a major market TV station from beginning to end. I believe it and yet I don’t, knowing how things work in this business.
CM: I don't remember ever seeing you cry on the air. Have you? How do you control your emotions when you're reporting on something heartbreaking or tragic, particularly since you're a parent? Or have you cried on the air and what story did it to you?
DS: I’ve welled up twice. Not tears flowing, but close, only to keep it together so I could do my job. Once when the Andrea Yates story broke, and the other was just the other night when they aired Bill Balleza’s farewell message to me on the 10 pm newscast. He was so sweet and emotional, so it was the combination of that and the realization that I’m now entering the woodshop era of my life.
CM: TV can be a cruel business. Many anchors guard their private life like it's Fort Knox. You've been open about everything. How did you reach the decision to do that?
DS: Yes, I am a bit of an open book. Being guarded doesn’t help you in this business because then you’re not relatable. However, my YouTube channel was truly my entré into authenticity. I felt that by being open and vulnerable better connected me to the viewer and to myself. As with anything, there’s good and bad. The good is that connection. The bad is that it opens you up to the critics.
I’ll take that connection over the criticism any day.
CM: I don't believe for one second that you're leaving TV news forever. Am I right or wrong — and why?
DS: Yes, I’m done with TV news. Television itself, no. I love being the author of my own message, and so the YouTube work will continue, and who knows where it will all lead.
CM: You seem to have the perfect life. How have you dealt with mean, petty or jealous things left by readers in the comments section? And don't tell me that you don't read them because everybody does.
DS: Read and delete. It’s that simple. I truly feel sad and sorry for people who feel the need to put out such mean and salacious comments. It just speaks to their internal feelings about themselves or their lives. I just choose to take a big picture outlook on it, pray for people’s hearts and not take it personally.
CM: We live in a world of celebrity gossip. What was the craziest rumor you heard about yourself, not counting the false rumors that I started?
DS: Yours are the best. Anything else pales in comparison.
CM: It's always a big deal when a female news anchor changes her hairstyle or hair color. Long time ago, you joked to me that you can't remember what your actual hair color is. Take a minute and think, what is it?
DS: COVID showed me what it is, since I, like everyone else, couldn’t get to a hair salon for months. It’s a medium to dark ash brown with a few gray stragglers around my face. I speed dialed when the salon opened.
CM: We all have our role models when we're 15 or 16 in high school. Who was your hero and why? And don't say your mother — this is not the Miss America Pageant.
DS: When I was a sophomore in high school, MTV debuted. It was the first time I saw young people as broadcasters talking about content that interested me, so that’s when I knew I wanted to get into broadcast television.
They were the impetus, although I wouldn’t quite say role models. Katie Couric when she co-anchored on the Today Show was one. She was the trifecta then of intelligence, quick wit, and versatility.
CM: Let's put 60 seconds on the clock. Give me the names of all of your co-anchors even if it was just one newscast.
DS: Regulars — Bob Nicholas, Khambrel Marshall, Rob Johnson, Linda Lorelle, Bill Balleza, Kris Gutierrez.
Occasional — Keith Garvin, Andy Cerota, Jonathan Martinez, Jacob Rascon, Owen Conflenti, Christine Noel, Lauren Freeman, Sara Donchey, Rachel McNeil, Janet Shamlian, Jerome Gray, Wendy Corona, Don Armstrong, Gasia Mikaelian, Dan O’Rourke.
I’m sure there are more, but you said 60 seconds.
CM: Do you have a Washington's farewell speech to the troops ready for your final newscast?
DS: I’m sure I’ll get a minute-thirty to get it all in, so it shouldn’t take too long to prepare. Remember, this is TV news.