A morning news anchor on NY1 for almost 20 years now, Pat Kiernan says he gets recognized roughly ten times an hour when he's walking the streets of New York in his on-air suit.
"Only 2 or 3 of those people will actually greet me," said the Canadian-born newsman, who gives his witty takes on the day's print headlines in his weekday segment "In the Papers" and who has played himself in everything from "30 Rock" to the recent "Ghostbusters" reboot.
"The others just whisper to their friend or take what they think is a stealth picture."
Like the photo — snapped by a viewer and aired by Kiernan's producers — that captured him snoozing on the L train last year?
"I wasn't asleep!" he insisted when asked about the incident. "I was resting my eyes."
After rising at 3:08 a.m. in the morning and finishing a day's work, Kiernan confessed that his L train ride home from the NY1 studios in Chelsea does "occasionally" lull him to sleep.
"Never to the point that I've overshot my stop at Bedford Avenue," added the anchor, who lives in Williamsburg.
With the release of his new children's book, "Good Morning, City," this week, Kiernan chatted with us about the changing character of his neighborhood, the imminent L train apocalypse, and his potentially burgeoning singing career:
The cover of Kiernan's new book, "Good Morning, City" (Credit: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group)
Your new picture book is all about the things that happen as the city awakens every morning. When you look out your car window on the way to work, what’s the most captivating thing you usually see?
The drive across the Williamsburg Bridge at 4 a.m. is my favorite part of the commute. The Manhattan skyline greets me on both sides. It's been 20 years since I moved here from Canada, and, sometimes, it still seems like it can't be real that I'm anchoring a newscast in the biggest media market in the country.
You moved to Williamsburg from the Upper West Side in 2012. What drew your family to the neighborhood?
People in other parts of the city would laugh at this, but Williamsburg was more affordable than the Upper West Side. And switching from a co-op in Manhattan to a single-family house in Brooklyn cuts your tax bill a lot, so there's an ongoing benefit.
What do you make of the Whole Foods that opened in Williamsburg this summer? Was it a turning point for the neighborhood?
I think the turning point was long ago. But Whole Foods on one side of the street and the Apple store on the other leaves no doubt for anyone who was clinging to the idea of the "old" Williamsburg.
Now, we're indistinguishable from many Manhattan neighborhoods, glass condos and high-end retail everywhere. The L train is what facilitates that because it makes the neighborhood so accessible to someone who was thinking of living in Manhattan.
How do you plan on navigating the impending “L train apocalypse”?
I'm sort of in denial. It's going to be a huge problem and I think every week that goes by without detailed planning for alternatives is a week wasted. The East River Skyway cable car proposal, for example, doesn't seem to have been fully evaluated. They could have that running by 2019, but that's a decision to make now — not in 2018.
Williamsburg is a popular spot for TV and film shoots. Does that add or detract from its charm?
Movie and TV production is great for the city and it's mostly fun to have them buzzing around. But the location mangers could branch out more than they do. The city's film office keeps a "hot list" and will reject shoots if a neighborhood has really been feeling a pinch. But I think there's room for a middle ground where the various productions self regulate and try to spread the pain (and excitement) around.
What’s your favorite local business, the kind where you’re on a first-name basis with the staff?
When we left Manhattan we gave up the luxury of a doorman. So the staff at Office 11211 have stepped in to that role. They ship and receive a lot of packages for me.
You've been on the record saying the donuts at Peter Pan in Greenpoint are your favorite in the city. In your opinion, who sells the best bagels?
There's one bagel place in Greenpoint that's called Baker's Dozen that we go to. I don't get a chance to get them very often because it's not on my way to anything, but Black Seed bagels, the Montreal-style ones, are probably my favorite — I'm hardly a New Yorker for saying that.
Where do Canadian expats like to hang out in the city when they’re homesick for their native land?
Good question. Probably a Rangers game?
Fans loved your rendition of the Daily News headline playing on the Pink Floyd song “We don’t need no education.” Should we expect you to sing with co-worker Roger Clark’s band any time soon?
I've attended Roger's performances. We've never taken it to the next level. But if we found the right moment I'd be up for it.