It’s been 4-½ years since our last interview with Dennis House and Kara Sundlun, Connecticut’s favorite couple! Time flies and much has changed in our worlds. We popped over to hang with them on the patio of their Hartford home and bring to you, In the Garden with Dennis House + Kara Sundlun!
First off, Dennis, it was recently announced that you’ve left WFSB after 28 years as an anchor. Can you talk about what’s next??
My next adventure is a work in progress. I’m extremely grateful for the 28 years I had at WFSB, and now I’m open to doing something else! I want to see what’s out there. Do I do more TV or do I do something else? Business? Maybe run for office? Maybe down the road. I really love Connecticut. I want to continue to serve CT and have impact and meaning to the state.
Kara Sundlun: When nothing is certain, anything is possible!
Dennis House: Denise D’Ascenzo and I were the most-watched, longest-running anchor team in Connecticut. I’m very proud of that.
Kara, you’re a co-host of Better Connecticut with Scot Haney on WFSB. How has it been working during the pandemic?
So, Better Connecticut went off the air for some time when the world shut down on March 13th. But, because I also anchor the mid-day news, my job went full-on. Dennis and my team jokingly called me the “Corona Queen”! I was doing non-stop interviews with experts around the world on the Coronavirus. Some of them from here at Yale.
I’ll remember this interview for the rest of my life. I interviewed Dr. Akiko Iwasaki, head of the Immunology Department at Yale, right at the beginning of all of this happening. She said, “People are going to have to take this seriously. I think people are going to have to cancel their St. Patrick’s Day parades.” And at the time, we were like, “What?!”
Crazy time. And now, fast forward, we think people need some levity in their lives, so we’ve brought back Better Connecticut. It’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve already cried from laughing twice. Scot Haney is funny.
Dennis, tell us about an interview you’ll never forget, and why does it stand out?
Dennis: One was with Ronald Reagan. He had just left office and I was a cub reporter. They were reopening his boyhood home as a museum. We went there to try to interview him, but the museum people came out and said, “No questions for the President, sorry.” I thought, well if I was visiting my boyhood home I might want to see my backyard. So, my photographer and I went around to the backyard and hung out there for a while. Sure enough, out that back door came the President. He walked around and I shouted out a couple of questions.
Another one…we’ve covered all of these shootings in neighborhoods over the years and I wondered what’s it like to be a kid growing up here? So I did a profile called Growing Up on Garden. There were 2 friends that we profiled, Daryl and Tyrone, who were 10 years old. I asked them what it was like to hear gunshots. One of them said, “I’m afraid for my sister.” I’ll never forget that.
Kara, same question! An interview you’ll never forget?
Kara: I love doing Kara’s Cures and anything that talks about empowerment and potential. So, of course, it would have to be Deepak Chopra. I had the opportunity to go and interview him and do a podcast with him. At the end, I gave him my book, Finding Dad: From “Love Child” to Daughter. I told him he’d influenced my life, never thinking anything of it. Then, when I met him again, he said he loved it. He said it was a true story of the power of forgiveness and healing and was a book everyone should read. And that he often gives it to people who need to hear it. I was like, ahhhhhhh!!!
And I also loved talking to Arianna Huffington…I really respect her and love her wisdom.
One of the first interviews I did at Channel 3 wasn’t anyone famous, but it impacted me a lot. This little boy Lucas needed a Big Brother, he’d been on a waiting list for 2 years. So that night I did a story on him and it was such a wow moment for me and the power of television because half an hour after the show, he had a Big Brother.
Tell us about your newly painted front door…
Dennis: The loss of Denise D’Ascenzo was so awful, I still feel it today. She was a great friend to both of us. My co-anchor for 25 years and a friend for 28. She loved the color coral. We’ve had a black door since we moved in here and Kara suggested we paint it coral. It’s Coral Gables from Benjamin Moore.
We wanted to pay tribute to her. We haven’t been able to do as much as we’ve wanted to do this year fundraising for the Denise D’Ascenzo Foundation because of COVID.
What things do you love about living in Hartford and CT?
Kara: I used to watch Who’s the Boss, and I told my mom that one day I’m going to live in Connecticut. And here I am! We love the West End. We can walk to Tangiers International, our second kitchen, the best falafel in CT! And we walk to Elizabeth Park. It’s easy access to everything.
Dennis: We love this state. Where else can you go skiing, go to the beach, be in a city, in a small town, on a farm…there’s so much in this state!
Things you do as a family now that you didn’t before COVID? Life lessons from COVID?
Kara: I think there are lots of silver linings. When I look back I feel like so many; we were TOO busy, we were overscheduled. I think the collective slow down has helped us all look inward. I don’t want to go back to that franticness. It’s been so nice to just hang out as a family and watch a movie, or play games, or eat acai bowls [their daughter’s obsession]!
We had a very unscheduled summer and the kids say it was their best summer.
Dennis – what’s the best thing Kara cooks?
She makes an amazing everything…oh, Chimichurri sauce!! I like it as soup.
Kara – what’s the best thing Dennis makes?
He makes a really good steak chili.
Fave podcast of the moment?
Dennis: I like anything historical. Investigative stuff, too.
Instagram – who do you love to follow?
Both: We love Unlocking Connecticut!
Dennis: I also love to follow car things, I follow the Governor, UCONN…we both love Mika Brzezinski.
Kara: I love Gayle King, and Arianna Huffington, Gabby Bernstein, and Deepak Chopra.
Thanks for the visit guys! Dennis, we can’t wait to see what happens next for you!
Pics: Lora Karam / Words: Bev Canepari