It was the natural destination.
As a child, she found a pen and paper, and wrote about anything and everything. She’d record songs on the radio and then practice being a DJ introducing them on the radio.
One thing was clear: She was a storyteller.
Fate helped give Lori Lees Fisher an early nudge toward being in the right place at the right time. As years went by, she made sure she stayed there.
Now, the 1995 Blaine graduate helps deliver stories that are heartwarming, heartbreaking and everything in-between statewide for Fox 9. It’s a journey that has seen Fisher thrive for over two decades behind the scenes as a producer, and flourish the past six years on camera moderating a show alongside two of the leading voices in Minnesota sports.
Every step along the way has had one theme in common: Be ready for anything.
Starting at the beginning.
Fisher’s family moved from Chicago to Blaine when she was 5 years old. By then, she was telling as many stories as she could in whatever way possible.
“I know it sounds cliché, but as a little girl I loved to write short stories or pretend I was a columnist for popular magazines,” Fisher said. “I also played make-believe that I was a radio DJ and used my boom box to record songs and then tape myself introducing them. While I also went through the phase of wanting to be a teacher, a lawyer or even an accountant, all my real successes in school were always in my English and speech classes.”
The passion for storytelling never faded.
Fisher found herself going to college in St. Cloud due in part to its business program. But the pull of journalism drew her back like a magnet.
Fisher had landed at the right place. She was about to find the right path.
“In a roundabout way, my accounting teacher at the time, Mr. Case at Blaine High School, helped me get started down my career path,” Fisher said. “I enjoyed his class and looked at St. Cloud State University because he said it was a good business school. As I started taking math classes my freshman year of college, I realized that’s not what I wanted to do and needed to get back to my true calling: journalism. SCSU just so happened to have a fantastic communications program too.”
The idea started as imagination. In the summer of 1997, in her first TV class at St. Cloud State, the thought of being part of television took its first big step toward reality.
“It was intense and amazing,” Fisher said. “Our professor separated the class into two ‘TV stations’ and we competed every day against one another for best newscast. I was our team’s meteorologist and producer. I saved my first show rundown I ever produced. It’s timed out on paper and is fun to look at the news back then.”
Fisher’s early dreams had her being on-air, reading scripts and delivering the news herself.
Soon, though, she gained a new perspective of the work done on the other side of the camera.
“I always thought I would be in front of the camera, but that changed when I started interning at Fox 9, which was UPN at the time,” Fisher said. “I realized after going out with reporters and writing for newscasts my passion was creating a show and seeing it through from beginning to end.”
Fisher’s rise wasn’t a slow burn. It took off in a hurry, going from college student to working at one of the Twin Cities’ primary news stations in the blink of an eye.
“To this day, I believe I was at the right place at the right time,” Fisher said. “My internship turned into working the weekend assignment desk. My job was to make beat calls, listen to the police scanners and assign crews stories. My big break was the summer I graduated from SCSU. The station was in the early stages of launching ‘Good Day Minnesota,’ a weekday morning show. I was first hired as a part-time writer and teleprompter operator.”
It was a big break. And it was about to get better.
“One week before the show debuted, the assistant news director offered me a full-time producing job,” Fisher said. “I will never forget that call. Not many producers get to start in a major market, especially the one they are from. It was a dream come true.”
Fisher being in the right place at the right time may have begun with some fortunate timing. Her continued success was sustained by a dedication to making sure she continued being where she needed to be.
If there was a chance to keep climbing, Fisher raced to make sure her foot was the first to the ladder.
“Anytime a new show position would become available, I’d be the first one in the news director’s office asking for a shot at it,” Fisher said. “My morning show position turned into the weekend show and then into the nightly newscasts. I became an executive producer when we launched the 5 p.m. newscast and then, a few years later, was promoted to senior executive producer.”
Being a producer requires the utmost preparation in order to execute precise timing. Both strengths of Fisher’s, utilized to ensure all elements of a newscast are clicking in sync.
Still, the biggest stories often come without warning. By developing a strong staff chemistry and a mindset that expects the unexpected, the crew is prepared to handle tough and rapidly-evolving stories.
“Despite being a manager, I am so passionate about being in the control room for breaking news,” Fisher said. “I am always the one in the ears of anchors and reporters on Election Night. Some of my most key moments producing have been when the Jacob Wetterling case was solved, the day Prince died and the murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed. Most recently, I produced Fox 9’s on-air gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict.”
Those types of stories are often the most consequential, yet frequently are paired with tragedy. It’s a privilege to be trusted, but also a heavy responsibility.
“The most challenging part of my job is constantly being exposed to heartache,” Fisher said. “This last year has been tough witnessing and reporting the fallout from COVID-19 and the murder of George Floyd. As a journalist, you can feel compelled to always be ‘in the know,’ so it’s tough to take a break from the news cycle. I am also a perfectionist to a fault and am working on getting away from multi-tasking and instead focusing on one project at a time.”
A unique opportunity
Already an established producer at the network, a unique, unintended opportunity presented itself six years ago.
A pitch was brought forth by the late Ron Rosenbaum and Dan Barreiro about a possible show on Fox 9. Rosenbaum was a well-known attorney, a radio and podcast host in the Twin Cities and a frequent guest on Barreiro’s drive-time KFAN radio show “Bumper to Bumper.” The idea was to take the pair’s popular segments and bring them to a television audience.
In May 2015, after talking to then-news director and now Fox 9 SVP/General Manager Mim Davey, Rosenbaum and Barreiro got their chance at a pilot run.
The duo offered stellar rapport and two of the strongest voices in the state, yet one thing was missing. Fisher, who had originally been assigned to produce the show, was tapped to fill the void.
“During rehearsals, we realized it was a little awkward getting from topic to topic and that we needed someone to help move the guys along,” Fisher said. “That became me and I’ve been saying ‘Enough said!’ ever since. Sadly, Ron passed away a little more than a year later. It was a natural fit to bring KFAN’s Justin Gaard in to replace him, since Justin and Dan already worked so closely together on the ‘Bumper to Bumper’ radio show.”
What might stretch into a 15-minute segment or more on the radio is condensed into a couple of key points. When Fisher feels that it’s time to move on, she calls out “Enough said!” and introduces the next discussion point. All part of the fun, fast-paced nature of the show.
“It was tough timing the show early on,” Fisher said. “We really wanted the topics to breathe, but then we would get tight on time and not be able to get to all of our segments. We ended up developing a new system and told ourselves, let’s limit the time on each talker. We would rather have the audience wanting more instead of yelling ‘Enough said!’ at the TV screen. When Dan gets going though, I still let him have extra time. It’s just too good.”
The show has evolved some over time, becoming progressively more about mainstream topics. From the start, however, there have been elements of sports, politics and pop culture — and no issue too tough to tackle.
“At first, ‘Enough Said’ touched topics that may have been a little more off the beaten path, but it slowly morphed into the biggest talkers of the week, mainly sports-related,” Fisher said. “But we don’t shy away from hard news or tough stories to explain. When I am producing the show I make it a priority to have a good mix of topics, so there’s a little something for sports and non-sports fans. I also strive to make Dan and Justin laugh during the show, so that goes into my topic selection as well. That usually happens in the lightning round!”
The show has held close to that formula, yet remains willing to deviate and explore creative new ways to engage audiences.
“Dan and Justin are easy to work with and are always up for making any tweaks to the show,” Fisher said. “We’ve talked about exploring the idea of adding guests to the show to add more expertise on a particular subject. But the show is really about their opinions, so we haven’t tried it quite yet. Lindsay Whalen co-hosted the show with Dan a few years ago and that was really fun. We also have tapped KFAN contributors Ron Johnson, Jon Krawczynski and Lavelle E. Neal III to co-host when Dan or Justin are on vacation.”
On the radio, there’s no one to tell Barreiro and Gaard to stop, except for commercial breaks.
On “Enough Said,” they have to listen to Fisher. Well, at least they’re supposed to.
“You would think it would be intimidating to tell two of the most popular sports radio talk show hosts in the country to stop talking, but honestly we’ve been together for so long, we have a good rhythm,” Fisher said. “Dan and Justin joke that they don’t listen to me, but they do — most of the time. When they do go off the rails every now and then, I call them out for it. All in good fun though!”
KFAN’s “Bumper to Bumper” show runs the gamut of sports and political news throughout the week, so many of the topics have been discussed by Barreiro and Gaard prior to taping. However, “Enough Said” provides a different medium for the audience to take it all in, placed in a Friday night time slot in which there’s usually a reason for sports fans to be watching TV.
“I think it’s fair to say it’s nearly impossible to save a topic for ‘Enough Said’ when Dan and Justin are on the radio six days a week,” Fisher said. “The main difference is you see Dan and Justin’s reactions to stories, not just hear them. We can also show really good video, something radio can’t do. Since I am not involved in their radio show, (unless I am reporting on the latest Jennifer Lopez news), I also bring a different perspective to ‘Enough Said.’ I am still learning the world of sports. I think of that with our viewers — we aren’t breaking down plays of a game, we are picking apart the storyline, reaction and repercussions of it. The show is usually up against some sporting event on a Friday night, so it has a wide appeal.”
Whereas many sports debate shows rely on a brash, adversarial style, “Enough Said” thrives on nuance. It’s a passionate yet civil discussion among friends. The feel is not manufactured. It’s real.
“You can’t beat Dan’s knowledge,” Fisher said. “He has an educated take on everything and isn’t afraid to say it. Justin is ingrained in the community. He is the sideline reporter for Gopher Football and knows so much about sports in general. Nothing is scripted for this show. I have a basic plan, but the guys just ad-lib it all. If you could only see us — I’m sitting next to the director of the show in the control room and calling out when to mic me. I time the show on my phone. Who else does that?”
‘Enough Said’ family
Having spent years steering newscasts from behind the cameras, the reaction has been strong since Fisher stepped into the spotlight on camera. As the years have gone by, the audience built up has taken on the feel of a family.
“I never expected to be on camera at Fox 9, but we are so open to trying new things here in addition to our newscasts,” Fisher said. “I was nervous at first, but the show is really about Dan and Justin, so the pressure is more on them! We record ‘Enough Said’ on Friday afternoons, so we can start over if one of us majorly messes up, but that hardly ever happens. We have done the show live from the Minnesota State Fair, and that was a little more intimidating. The guys were on stage and I was in our Fox 9 stands. The crowd helped yell, ‘Enough Said!’
“Thankfully, viewers have been kind to me. I do a lot tweeting on Friday nights promoting the show. I share outtakes or funny things that happen in-between the segments, giving viewers a ‘behind the scenes’ look. It’s also a running joke that I tweet out a weekly ‘group photo.’ Fans of the show know that Dan, Justin and I always say ‘Enough Said Family’ when talking about us on-air and the hardworking crew behind the cameras. The show’s editor and directors take so much pride in the show. We even started an ‘Enough Said Family’ hashtag!”
“Enough Said” is one of the more recent innovative ventures of Fox 9. Fisher has been a part of another journey into the local sports world as well, producing the current Fox 9 Town Ball Tour. All part of finding the proper mix between hard news and uplifting features, personally and professionally.
“The most enjoyable part of my job is seeing our staff smile,” Fisher said. “Our Fox 9 Town Ball Tour is example of this. Everyone involved in these events have a blast planning the shows and broadcasting the games live.”
While “Enough Said” may gain the most attention, Fisher’s main job responsibilities continue to be in her producing work, helping oversee the news Fox 9 is able to provide to viewers at home.
“People are surprised to hear that producing ‘Enough Said’ isn’t my only job,” Fisher said. “In fact it’s a sliver of what I do. My day-to-day work involves helping manage the newsroom. I mainly oversee the 11 a.m. show and some of the early evening newscasts. I help with editorial decisions, producing newscasts and overall quality control.”
Minnesotan, through and through
The roots of home remain strong and have kept Fisher around the Twin Cities since her early move at age 5. She went to Epiphany Catholic School in Coon Rapids from first through ninth grade, then graduated from Blaine High School in 1995, playing volleyball in 10th and 11th grade and being part of Snow Daze Royalty her senior year.
“I am still good friends with my high school circle of girls,” Fisher said. “I have amazing high school memories.”
Fisher married her husband Sean in 2003 and lives in Maple Grove with their two kids George and Thomas, finding adventures wherever they can.
“Our kids keep us extremely busy with school and activities,” Fisher said. “We work hard to take them on memorable adventures. We recently climbed to the top of Pikes Peak as a family — it was extremely tough, but we did it! I am also a spin instructor at Surge Cycling in Maple Grove. It’s a great workout that keeps me physically and mentally healthy. I am also a part of the Fox 9 Running Team. A bunch of us take on the Twin Cities 10 Mile together every fall! We compete against other media outlets. We hope to get first place this year!”
While she long dreamed of being on the camera, doing so in a largely sports-centered show may not have been quite how she imagined it. Like anything else she has encountered, though, Fisher has taken the role with good humor and in stride ... and run with it.
“I am the most uncoordinated person you will ever meet,” Fisher said. “I grew up playing basketball, softball and volleyball, but only to be with my friends. I went to Epiphany in Coon Rapids until ninth grade where everyone made the team. It was a whole new world when I got to Blaine High School. I made the volleyball team, but I joke that I blacked out during dance line and cheerleading tryouts. I was so nervous I don’t remember trying out — needless to say, I didn’t make either squad! Recently my family has become big Wild fans. My youngest son plays hockey, so we enjoy watching the games together.”
Fisher has become ingrained in Minnesota news and with “Enough Said,” the state’s sport community.
Two decades strong of local journalism, and counting.
“I can’t believe I have been at Fox 9 for more than 20 years! I stay because my career continues to evolve here and we have an amazing staff,” Fisher said. “I feel like our employees can come to me about anything and I will support them. My family is the main reason for staying in the Twin Cities. I am very close with my mom (a big ‘Enough Said’ fan) and my husband’s family here in Minnesota. My younger brothers (who got all of the athletic genes) moved out of state, so I have to jump on FaceTime to see them! I really love the weather in Minnesota. I am willing to put up with the winters to enjoy the beautiful summer and fall seasons.”
What’s next for Fisher? Whatever it is, she aims to be ready, for both the scripted and the unpredictable.
“You never know what the future holds,” Fisher said. “I am always up for a challenge or to grow in my current role at Fox 9. I really have the best of both worlds. I get to be a manager, producer and TV show moderator!”
Dream job, adventures near and far, a home down the road from where she grew up.