For Channel 2's Sachse, success is in the details

Lisa M. Chmiola

Staff Writer

Every day at 4 and 5 p.m., Channel 2 news anchor Dominique Sachse appears on thousands of Houstonians' television screens immaculately dressed in a professional, yet colorful outfit.

Co-anchor Rob Johnson also manages to look dashing in his suits, making it seem as if the two have special powers of clothing coordination.

How do they avoid showing up wearing clashing colors - yellow and brown, or wildly different shades of blue?

Their secret: morning phone calls from Dominique to set the day's clothing parameters.

"She's got the details down," Johnson said.

Hammering down details is one quality that helped Sachse rise from a radio traffic reporter holding several outside jobs to pay the bills to one of Houston's most successful and well-known television personalities.

Sachse, 30, realized sometime during her junior or senior year at Memorial High School that she wanted to pursue a career in the broadcast industry.

"I was fascinated by the television industry," Sachse said, poised at her desk in the Channel 2 newsroom abuzz with activity about an hour before the day's 4 p.m. newscast.

Following graduation in 1985, Sachse jetted off to study at Richmond College in London. A semester later, she returned to the States and enrolled at the University of Houston, where she majored in radio and television and minored in journalism.

Much of her training before graduating in 1990 focused on the behind-the-scenes of the radio and television industries.

Sachse's proudest moment at UH came upon completion of a project for her television producing and directing class - a 30-minute show detailing Houston style that aired on KUHT in 1989.

"It was like a one-woman show - I hosted it; I wrote it; I did the interviews; I spent the night in the editing room," she said.

During Sachse's last semester at UH, she interned for CNN's Style with Elsa Klensch. But the internship was not as glamorous as she thought it would be.

"I was clipping articles a lot. I was getting coffee for Elsa Klensch a lot. I would say the highlight of that (experience) was being able to go to the fashion shows," she said.

At the end of the internship, Sachse returned to Houston. She called Robert Musburger, director of the UH School of Communication and a former professor of hers, to obtain assistance in her job search.

"All I did was tell her how to get her first job," Musburger said. The advice given: Take whatever job she could get to break into the industry and the more glamorous and higher-paid positions would follow.

So she took her first broadcasting position as a weekend traffic anchor for Metro Traffic Control, monitoring traffic situations to compile reports for several stations.

During the week, Sachse temped at a law firm and modeled and acted for additional money. "It was enough to keep me busy and put some money in the bank," she said.

Meanwhile, she began forging her on-air personality by working split shifts for radio station KHMX. By January 1991, she signed on as a part-time weekend disc jockey.

Two years later, Sachse received a call from Channel 2 for a morning traffic reporter position. A year after taking that job, she earned her first anchor position on the early morning newscast.

"I was getting up at 2:30 in the morning. I was here at 4; we went on at 5," Sachse said. As for her after-work schedule in those days, "I was in bed at 6:30, 7 at night - it's the anti-life."

In August, she began anchoring the noon, 4 and 5 p.m. newscasts, giving her time to exercise, read and "try not to do too much. Otherwise it takes a toll."

At this point, Sachse is more than halfway through her 10-to-6 workday. She turns to her computer and quickly scans her script for the 4 p.m. newscast just 15 minutes before airtime.

She then rises from her desk, glances over her makeup and climbs the ladder to the upper level of the newsroom to start the newscast. Evening anchor Bill Balleza stands in place of Johnson, who took the day off.

Sachse breezes through her segments, quickly glancing at her script as Balleza completes his. Her delivery is clear, concise and accented by her mocha-colored eyes, widening in wonder as she tells viewers about teenagers in Dallas involved in a vampire group in which they sucked each other's blood.

During the first commercial break, Dominique snatches a compact so she can carefully rearrange the blond highlighted pieces of her hair. "Ten seconds," a crew member warns. "OK," she retorts sarcastically, almost as if she's telling the crew not to doubt that she'll clean up shop in time.

"Off camera, on commercial breaks, we're cutting up," Johnson said of Sachse's anchor-desk demeanor. He explains that keeping a loose, low-stress atmosphere makes delivering news fun.

Now that she is a celebrity around town, what's the next detail on Dominique's list?

"Just to continue to improve," she said. "I'm really happy doing what I'm doing." That includes making promotional appearances and taking a seat on the board of the UH Communication Alumni Association.

But there are network aspirations, perhaps fueled by a trip a few summers back to NBC Studios in New York, where she met Today anchors Katie Couric and Al Roker.

"She's network quality," Musburger said, citing her experience in various aspects of production. "She's going to make it because people love her."

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