Chris Farley & How to Avoid the Media Mistakes I Made

Most of the time, you don’t know when your media opportunity is coming. Here’s an inside look at the media mistakes I made, to help you prepare for your own moment in the spotlight.

Comedian and actor, Chris Farley, died 20-years ago. He was a superstar in the 90s at the time I was in college. He died after a long battle with addiction. He was only thirty-three and was already the greatest physical comedian of my generation. He didn’t survive — but he left behind many stories. This is mine.

“Kathryn! You’re on TV… call me!”

“Kathryn, I just saw you on E!”

“Kathryn! I didn’t know you dated….. Chris Farley?!?”

Ten messages on my answering machine.

It was 1999… and I was just months out of college and at my first full-time TV job.

I heard the messages right after walking in the door after producing the news all night at WCIA in Champaign, Illinois. I was so tired, I had to listen to them again to understand what was going on. Then I called someone to get the scoop.

The “E! True Hollywood Story” on Chris Farley premiered the night before. It described Chris’ time at Saturday Night Live, at Marquette University, his drug abuse…  and my picture came up in the show over and over. It was not flattering. Because of how I looked… and what the announcer track was saying while my pictures were coming up. Here’s a clip.

Chris Farley died during my senior year of college. The dean of my college called me over Christmas break and asked me to head back to school early so I could plan the memorial Mass at Marquette University. I was the president of my college and Chris went to Marquette.

The year prior, Chris came back to campus to accept an award.  This is also the last time I wore a dress this low-cut. THIS is the event where my pictures were taken along with dozens of other students with Chris. After Chris died, producers from E! went to Marquette to collect pictures. The dean handed them over… and the producers didn’t keep track — so editors used pictures of me in places that the track was not referring to me. I clearly did not date Chris, nor was I part of his downward spiral into drinking… as the E! story said.

On the day of the memorial Mass — I had Chris’ family there, bagpipers and Pat Finn to give the eulogy. (You’ve probably seen Pat in The Middle, Friends and Seinfeld… he’s great.) His eulogy was hilarious and loving. He told stories that illustrated Chris as a student… to us, a chapel full of students. I wish I had video of it in its entirety. He also told stories of how Chris would make regular trips to the Joan of Arc chapel on campus to pray… talk to God… and just be alone.

After the service, the local stations wanted to interview me.

I didn’t even think about this possibility.

I was unprepared. (I know much better now… I was 20 then.)

As a young broadcast journalism student who wanted to be a reporter (as I thought at the time)… I blew my chance. I gave the all-time lamest soundbite. It’s here if you want to see it:

Between the low-cut dress at the awards event the year before and the soundbite at the service — these are the first two mistakes I made when it comes to media and public speaking.

But I learned a lot.

  1. When the story on E! aired, I was a young TV producer. This taught me to be very careful when writing to pictures and video. Make sure the track matches the visuals. A mistake can hurt someone’s reputation.
  2. Be ready for anything.
  3. Watch the makeup. Don’t let it be a distraction.
  4. Dress how you would want to be portrayed in pictures or on video — especially if you’re going to a high-profile event. You never know who may see the picture.
  5. Have your elevator speech ready. What will you say if the media shows up? How will you answer if someone at that wedding asks you what you do, or why you’re “in between jobs,” or what you’re looking for in your next role? What will you say when they ask you what your company does? Remember — quick responses that stick with your audience.
I coach clients so they’re ready when their opportunity comes.
Most times – you don’t even know your opportunity’s coming.
You need to be ready now.

Kathryn Janicek | Media Coach, Producer, Public Speaking Trainer
Kathryn Janicek is a three-time Emmy Award-winning television producer with 20 years of experience working in newsrooms across the country. Kathryn coached talent, producers, and writers before switching her focus on helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives. Now, based in her home city of Chicago, she is a much sought-after media coach and public speaking trainer who will help you produce the best YOU. Click HERE now to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with Kathryn!

What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas

I was in Vegas last weekend. My husband and I wanted to get away for some pool time before a busy June hit. (It was also my birthday weekend.)

I dumped a few hundred down some slots and he made a hefty deposit while playing the tables. Thank you, Steve Wynn.

We flew in Thursday and didn’t hear about the terror threat until we landed that afternoon. Law enforcement was already boosted by the time we hit the ground. Vegas was a target because an ISIS propaganda video called for lone wolf attacks showed several Las Vegas Strip properties.

No one was really talking about it inside the casinos. Possibly because they were on vacation and drinking too many of these tasty little watermelon and vodka punches. I do know security was ramped up. Kathy Griffin also talked about it during her show. (This was three days before the President Trump beheading video.)

In my head – I was prepared for anything.

I wore sandals at dinners and shows instead of the heels that remained in my luggage. I kept my bag packed and my phone charged. (Speaking of purses… take a look at the tiny little chair waiters bring you for your bag during dinner? They’re really looking out for the girl who doesn’t want to place her handbag on the floor.) 

It might be the news producer in me or because I spent three years in law enforcement… or was it all those years in Girl Scouts? I was ready.

My husband? He thought I was being a little ridiculous. But – you never can be too ready.

It’s a little like the bag I bring along on shoots for my clients. I have makeup for men and women. Deodorant, tape, body tape, things to stick in your bra to make your clothing look better, hair ties, blotters, eye cream, my favorite all-natural throat lozenges (ask me about them, they’re amazing)… you name it. You never know what your client will need. My job is to be ready and make them look and sound as best as possible.

Are you ready for your next emergency?

Ready for when the media calls?

Ready to perform?

Ready for your next boardroom pitch/interview/meeting/public speaking event/Facebook Live?

Here are some quick tips on how to prepare that I recently shared live on Facebook (please don’t mind the random thoughts and special appearance by my dog Mariel – when we’re live on Facebook, anything goes!):


I have an entire summer of ways you can get in the media or improve your public speaking — so make sure I’m making it into your inbox and not your spam! Not signed up for my free tips yet? Head on over to this page to start learning how you can get yourself noticed (and make more money).

PS: If you’re going to be in Vegas anytime soon… make sure to catch the Fogerty show. Worth every cent and more. Here’s just a taste of him performing with his sons. What a moment.

Speaking of NCAA Basketball Schools… Go Marquette!

Is your college in the big dance?

Mine is!

The Marquette Golden Eagles play University of South Carolina Friday, March 17.

While we’re talking about college… I just stumbled upon this on my Mac today.

Tim Cigelske is a Marquette University graduate and teacher. He teaches in the College of Communication.

Here’s a beautiful piece Tim wrote about me in Marquette Magazine a few years ago. Thank you, Tim.

The article was written when I was an executive producer at NBC. Since then, I created my own company. I am now a media coach and a public speaking trainer.

Tim also freelances on the side for some blogs and websites… so if you’re looking for a good writer with an awesome sense of humor… it’s him.

Go Marquette!Screenshot 2016-09-14 16.14.05

By: Tim Cigelske
Kathryn Janicek does more by 4 a.m. than many people accomplish all day.
As executive producer for NBC Chicago’s morning TV show, her workday starts shortly after midnight, when she opens her email and begins planning the news for more than 200,000 daily viewers.
No longer does breaking news start on the air. Now, she has to make sure stories are tweeted, posted on Facebook, and followed up on and updated on the website. That’s in addition to deciding where her reporters will travel and what items her writers will craft.
She doesn’t mind the relentless pace. In fact, she thrives on it.
“This really is a lifestyle,”she says. “Not just a job.”
Few in the news media have adapted faster to this rapidly changing landscape than Janicek, Comm ’98. She received an Emmy for outstanding achievement for interactivity and the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Silver Dome Award for best use of new media.
Taking risks and blazing trails is nothing new for Janicek, who displayed these same characteristics at Marquette. She wanted to be hands-on from the beginning, which is why she chose Marquette’s broadcasting program and Milwaukee’s internship potential after being accepted into prestigious journalism programs at schools such as the University of Missouri.
“The moment I met her, I could see her exhibition of curiosity,” says Dr. Michael Havice, professor of broadcast and electronic communication in the Diederich College. “She wanted to achieve everything at once.”
Havice noticed that Janicek sought out new or challenging ways to tell stories, as well as opportunities for personal and professional development. This included interning at WISN Channel 12 during her freshman year and working as an overnight associate producer at WITI Channel 6 during her junior year. She also was the College of Communication’s president and responsible for organizing a memorial for Chris Farley when he died during Christmas break in 1997.
Ï really wanted to be in charge,: Janicek says. “I definitely went toward the producing and management role.”
Her experience paid off immediately after graduation, when she landed a job as a morning producer for the CBS affiliate in Champaign, Ill. Janicek was destined for bigger markets and arrived in Chicago 3 1/2 years ago as a producer at WGN, which led to her current role at NBC as executive producer of the morning show.
Today, Janicek relishes the responsibility of preparing her viewers for the day. She admits she has little downtime, but that’s just fine with her.
“The newsroom is an incredible place,” she said. “I can’t wait for Mondays.”

New Writer & Column in the Chicago Sun Times

Have you heard Shia Kapos (of Crain’s Chicago Business fame) is now with The Chicago Sun-Times?

Check out her new column “Taking Names.” It launched this month. Shia featured my story of finding Mr. (Ted) Wright in Chicago (on a dating site) & our Florida wedding. As a media coach – my job is to help people look and perform the BEST when they’re in the media… so it’s a little weird to be asked for MY story.

Here’s the wedding story:

Nice mentions for Chicago’s Nuts on Clark, The Franklin Room, Mike Potts, Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos, Emily Henderson, Robert Deason, Alan James & The British Photographer – Photography (oh, and the OkCupid dating site). Thanks Shia!

Here’s what I’m using to keep my Florida beach wedding glow. Who wants one? I’m placing a bulk order TODAY! $25, no tax, no shipping, no commitment. Get 2 for $45!♨️ Message me ASAP!

People love this self-tanner, including the beauty editors over at Marie Claire who rave that it “gives you more than a glow.” It also treats your skin with vitamins A, C, and E for antioxidant protection. This is a must before you take any professional pictures, go on TV – hit the stage… or hit up a family reunion. 37f191090a852f9185195e069d77b73c

Do you have a media appearance soon? Getting on stage or have an important interview? Click here to learn how to improve body language, increase engagement, perfect your pitch and make sure your audience retains your message.

Producing the Best You


You’re an expert in your industry.

You’re smart and you worked hard to get where you are right now.

You’ve seen other people in your industry used as an expert in the media.

You’ve seen the interviews on TV. You know, with the right training – you could be on TV or quoted in a magazine article.

Portrait Session

You have a story to tell – but you don’t know how to get the attention from the media.

You want to learn how to present better in public – how to tell your company’s story – and keep the interest of your audience.

You need someone to show you what to wear, how to speak more passionately and how to deliver your message in a way that will stay with your audience. Maybe even call a few TV stations to land you appearances.

That’s exactly what I do.

Kathryn interviewing World War II veteran, Delton “Wally” Walling, at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii (2015)

Kathryn interviewing a World War II veteran at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii (2015)

I’m Kathryn Janicek. I’m the media coach and public speaking trainer people reach out to when they want help presenting at a higher level, telling their story to attract dream clients – or to gain media attention.


I spent 18 years in media across the United States, coaching talent, producers and writers before switching my focus to helping entrepreneurs and corporate executives move up in their careers – and how to sound and look like the expert that’s inside of them.



63ddb859-0af7-4a51-98d0-ceb078536384I use my experience in media, coaching talent and writing stories that make people take action — and use it all to produce the best YOU.

I interview you to dig up your story, find out what about you will turn on the media – and give you a strategy on how to achieve your media and public speaking goals.

Email me, tweet me, Facebook me… let’s start working together.