WISC–TV’s anchor opens up about her adopted hometown, personal style and surprising name change
"This is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere, and Madison is now considered my hometown,” says Susan Siman, sixteen-year veteran anchor at WISC–TV, who currently co-helms the Live at Five and six o’ clock newscasts. “Like everyone who comes here, I thought Madison was a stepping stone. But then you stay here, and you’re like a barnacle. This city and this station are hard to leave.”
And that’s what you get with Siman when you speak with her—witticisms thrown in here and there, along with a few self-deprecating comments that make you realize that she’s pretty normal—a working mom, news journalist and woman of substance.
Growing up, Siman’s dad was an Amoco exec (and interestingly, a former Navy SEAL) so her family moved every few years—including overseas to Geneva, Switzerland and Hong Kong, where she graduated from high school. She counts those experiences as ones that shaped her character.
“Moving around so much was hard. But it gave me more of a world view, I think.”
That includes tackling those snarky comments from viewers who are, she says, “almost always well intentioned.”
“When it comes to appearance comments, you have to take it with a grain of salt and realize it’s just human nature. Most people I think are honestly trying to help.” Addressing a common viewer question, Siman wants viewers to know that “yes, we do our own hair, our own makeup, we pick out our own clothing. We have no one to blame but ourselves!” she jokes.
On-camera Siman says she tends to be conservative in her outfit choices. “If I don’t wear a blazer, I hear about it. There is an assumption that the six p.m. newscast is serious.”
Off camera, a favorite buy was an LBD (little black dress) from Jan Byce a number of years ago. “I found THE dress. I’m going to wear it to death! It’s so versatile—I can wear it on-air and to events, too.” About her cover look Siman notes, “I loved the jacket instantly—I love bright colors. You would never see something like it in my wardrobe, but it’s a good starting point for me to being more adventurous!”
After work it’s casual: “I take my makeup off, throw on jeans and a sweatshirt and hop on my bike with my son [Matthew, age ten] and off we go,” she says.
Siman says that early in her career a news director advised her to shorten her last name of Simanaitis. “He thought it sounded like a disease,” says Siman, who joked about running a funny campaign that said “Simanaitis—catch it!” So, voila, Susan Siman was born.
“Siman is just my alias,” she laughs.
“I’ve never really had a really expensive pair of shoes or handbag. I watch Sex and the City and I fantasize about having a pair of Manolo Blahniks or Jimmy Choos. That would be fun.”
Ed’s pick: Because of her schedule, Siman needs a stylish, roomy and versatile handbag. Derek Lam’s timeless “Catia” hobo is just the answer. The antiqued gold hardware and tasseled front tie are fun additions. $1,350, shopbop.com.
“It is harder for a woman in this industry, I think. But the irony is that the older a woman gets, the more interesting she is!”
Ed’s pick: A woman of any age can sport a fun necklace to add that special something to her look—whether she’s in front of thousands of viewers or out to dinner. Faux pearl necklace, $34, Francesca’s Collections.
“I love bright colors. I felt good in the jacket [on the cover].”
Ed’s pick: Bright colors are the key for Siman’s fair hair and complexion. A yellow raincoat for fall is perfect to make her look pop. “SunShower” raincoat, $79.50, landsend.com.
Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.
Lead photo: Hair/makeup by Nicole Rounds, The Ultimate Spa Salon. Wardrobe styling by Shayna Miller. St. John knit polka-dot dress, $995, and R.J. Graziano faux pearl multistrand necklace, $85, both from Woldenberg’s.