At NBC10, Lu Ann Cahn has done it all—and in her new book she takes that literally.
“You can’t talk and bake,” says a laughing Lu Ann Cahn as she adds a few more teaspoons of water to a bowl of homemade chocolate frosting. Dressed in jeans and a logo T-shirt (“My daughter has a clothing line,” she says proudly), the petite newscaster is bouncing around the open kitchen of her suburban home as she prepares to put the finishing touches on a two-layer chocolate cake. “My friend who is a baker would be so disappointed with how I’m icing this.”
The veteran NBC10 reporter has confounded many friends over the years, but never quite like she did when she began a blog on January 1, 2010. For one year, she committed to do something completely new every day. That first day, she went big: Not one to swim in the ocean—“even in the summer,” she says—Cahn nevertheless did the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day, and from then on there was no looking back. Baking was one challenge, but there was also square dancing, skydiving, attending the opera, walking the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, even eating dessert for an entire day. From that blog, her first book was born, the newly releasedI Dare Me: How I Rebooted and Recharged My Life by Doing Something New Every Day (Perigee Trade).
A breast cancer survivor, Cahn hosts BreastCancer.org’s annual Rock the Ribbon event.
Cahn says it was her daughter who urged her to start the blog: “I was just feeling stuck in my life. I needed a creative outlet. But the great thing was that my firsts would lead to other firsts, so I was having all of these new experiences propelled by my blog.” On the last day of 2010, Cahn, who also videotaped the project, created a montage of her favorite firsts. She says taking risks ultimately helped her get “unstuck” in life: “When you keep growing and learning and facing challenges, you’re just a happier person.”
Back in the kitchen, she steps back to survey her homemade masterpiece, now fully iced, and reaches for a knife. “Now who wants some cake?”
9:25 am – Aquatic Fitness Center
Cahn’s mornings typically begin with cardio and weightlifting at the Aquatic Fitness Center before 8 am, but anytime is a good time to Hula-Hoop. Like baking, it’s one of the activities she has stuck with since completing her yearlong project. She crosses the room to grab the hoop sitting in a corner, and with one great spin she falls into a steady rhythm with ease. “The trick is to rock back and forth, not side to side.”
Hula-Hooping is one of the activities Cahn has continued since writing I Dare Me.
10:43 am – Milkboy Studios
It’s her third and final day of recording the audiobook version of I Dare Me. Cahn is standing at a microphone in a tiny room inside Milkboy Studios (“This is where Miley Cyrus recorded,” she says), reading another few chapters from her iPad. Producer Joel Metzler, who is sitting on the other side of the studio’s lone window, occasionally has her start a sentence over, but for the most part Cahn is alone with her words. “I’ve recorded scripts and all sorts of things for TV,” she says, “but this is like reading your journal out loud. It’s really interesting to bring your own words to life from a book.”
12:05 pm – Milkboy Studios
While on a break from recording, Cahn steps outside the booth to check e-mails and take a few phone calls. She receives an e-mail from her publisher about her upcoming appearance on the Today show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb in conjunction with the book’s release on November 5. “Kathie Lee and Hoda will totally get this book,” she says as she taps out a response. “They’re two women who are already living that I Dare Me life.”
Cahn signs a copy of the book for guests at the local launch party.
3:48 pm – NBC10 Studios
Back at NBC10 studios, Cahn is huddled in one of the station’s vans going over the day’s stories with cameraman Brian Iacone. She has been with NBC10 since 1987 and has served in just about every capacity possible. These days she’s focusing on investigative pieces. As Cahn reviews footage for an upcoming segment, talk turns to a heated exchange—seen in a clip that’s gaining attention on YouTube—that she had recently with a visibly uncomfortable Governor Tom Corbett about his support of the voter ID law. “You can Google it,” she says. “I like to dig into things.”
8:16 pm – Rock the Ribbon
Cahn takes the stage to emcee BreastCancer.org’s fourth annual Rock the Ribbon event. As a 22-year survivor of breast cancer and a formidable presence spreading awareness about the disease throughout the region, she understands the struggles of the three women being honored this evening. She also accepts an award for her work in the community. As Cahn darts offstage to gather her coat and head home, she seems upbeat if not a little fatigued. “Do you believe I still haven’t eaten yet today?”