Since becoming CBS-3 anchor in October 2018, Jessica Kartalija has been spotlighting Main Line area businesses and nonprofits in her broadcasts. A veteran journalist with a master’s degree in communications from Johns Hopkins University and 12 years of prior experience at Baltimore’s CBS affiliate, Kartalija concedes that 2020 was a year unlike any other in her career.
MLT: What’s it been like reporting on the pandemic while living through it?
JK: For months, we didn’t have the in-person camaraderie with our colleagues that helps us cope with tough news days—and lately, all days are tough news days. We can’t just turn off the news and take a break. The silver lining is that people realize local news has a place. Now, it’s more important than ever.
MLT: Your “A Chat With” series started in 2019. How did you alter it for pandemic life?
JK: In the original series, I interviewed notable Philadelphians at locations of their choosing. During the pandemic, I started interviewing local business owners and others who needed a spotlight on Facebook Live and Instagram Live—usually broadcast from home and often with my husband and son in the background making noise. Now, we’re doing them through CBS-3 and via Zoom, so we prerecord them.
MLT: What are the three most memorable interviews of your career?
JK: Oprah is number one. Early in her career, she worked at the CBS Baltimore station, so she was generous with me. She gave me a huge hug and did the interview with her arm around me. President Biden was interesting for many reasons. I interviewed him during the campaign and the pandemic, so there were a lot of COVID protections. One unforgettable story was of a 7-year-old heart transplant recipient. I was in the operating room when the donated heart arrived and it was lifted out of its container. It was the most phenomenal thing I’ve witnessed—and tragic, because it meant the donor, another child, had died.
MLT: What are a few of your favorite spots on the Main Line?
JK: We have great food in this area. My favorites include Cornerstone, Paola’s Pizzeria, Tredici Italian Market, Nectar, Casey’s Pour House, Azie on Main, Aux Petit Delices and Gryphon Café. I love exploring Velvet Shoestring. And my family loves Radnor Trail and the Willows.