Whether you aspire to reach Carnegie Hall in New York City, as the old jokes goes, or NBC studios in Burbank, Calif., the directions are the same: “Practice, practice, practice.”
Weathercaster Elita Loresca, who lives in La Verne and now can be seen Monday through Friday mornings on NBC4’s “Today in LA” and the “Midday Report,” had to follow that path. Her NBC4 bosses didn’t just put her on television when she was fresh out of Cal State Fullerton’s broadcast journalism program. She had to earn her way to the top, writing obituaries for the Orange County Register, answering phones and schlepping video files as a CBS news desk assistant here in Los Angeles, and bouncing around different small and medium media markets from coast to coast before she was ready to return to Los Angeles and say, “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” (Sunset Boulevard, 1950).
At Fullerton, Loresca enjoyed working behind the cameras, not in front of them, setting up the shot and working with the reporter to produce the best possible news segment. So, when she took her first weathercaster gig at KGET-TV in Bakersfield, Calif. in 2001, her performance was, well, as unpredictable and choppy as the weather can sometimes get.
“It was my first (professional) television experience,” Loresca recalled. “There was a massive pile-up on the 99, as a result of the tule fog, and I had to talk about the weather conditions. The camera pulled in for a tight shot of me, and I remember looking at the air check, and I was just perspiring profusely. When I get nervous, I’m one of those sweaty palm girls and I get little sweat beads on my nose. Even though I knew the weather conditions and what I wanted to say, it was just so much harder to talk in a conversational way. I was just so nervous. It was like I had eaten a bunch of screws. I had marbles in mouth.”
She wasn’t always at a loss for words. In Bakersfield, a co-worker introduced her to her boyfriend’s roommate, Ryan Nuveman, whom she married just this September after a long courtship and engagement. During this time, Loresca also caught the eye of KGPE-TV in Fresno, where she went on to work from August 2002 to August 2004.
Moving a couple hours north up the 99 and California’s Central Valley was one thing, but moving to Miami’s WSVN (Fox) station, her next assignment, was quite another. It wasn’t just the thought of moving away from her parents and four sisters and living together with her boyfriend for the first time that was new, she also had to prepare for a dramatic change in the weather.
“I knew that the weather there was in a whole different arena,” Loresca said. “It was a different ballgame. East coast weather is a phenomenon very different from what we experience in California and on the West Coast.”
Starting on her first day in Miami in August 2004, she began forecasting the 2004 hurricane season with Hurricane Frances. In 2005, Loresca contributed reports for her station from the National Hurricane Center during hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Between the hurricanes and the humidity, she somehow managed to find time to earn her Certificate of Broadcast Meteorology at Mississippi State.
FHM Men’s Magazine readers also voted Loresca the nation’s sexiest weathercaster during her Miami tenure. After checking with her television bosses, her boyfriend and her family, who were all very supportive, she was featured in the publication’s October 2006 edition. For Loresca, it was good, wholesome, healthy fun, which also had to be a ratings bonanza for her station.
“I tell you what,” Loresca said. “I call that an opportunity. Not very many people can say they were voted America’s sexiest newscaster. What bothers me are people who like to form opinions based on the pictures, or who state the only reason I am where I am is ‘blah, blah, blah.’
“For me, it was just kind of a bonus and a reflection of how hard I’d worked in my career and how I’d taken care of myself, not just from a health and fitness standpoint, but emotionally and spiritually. I was in a good place in my life where I could show that off. It was a great opportunity.”
Loresca generated fan mail across the United States, as well as Europe. “When the issue first came out, I got a lot of European fan mail asking me for signed autographs,” she said.
For three years, Loresca put her stamp on the Miami news, but when her agent called to tell her about an opportunity to join NBC4 and return to her home market in Los Angeles, she had to listen. Growing up, she had been a fan of NBC and weathercaster Fritz Coleman. She also relished the opportunity to rejoin her family and sisters and her new nephews.
“It was like Santa Claus calling me and asking me if I wanted to come up to the North Pole and help him in his workshop,” she said.
At the same time, she had become the real deal, a polished performer ready to take her small town charm and Miami heat to L.A.’s prime time. She had proved herself.
“Once you get thrown curve balls, you learn how to deal with those curve balls,” said the former Chino High basketball player about her growth in the business. “You either take a strike or you hit a home run. I was fortunate enough that I made a lot of my mistakes in smaller markets. But even today, if you make a mistake, you just deal with it. You can’t panic and you can’t let your audience know that it’s bothering you. You just quickly resolve it. You handle the pressure.”
In the NBC news workshop she has blossomed as part of the “Today in LA” and Midday Report” broadcasts. She said the best part of her job is the platform it provides her to reach others, especially young people, through an NBC-sponsored program called “Education Nation.”
“I enjoy being asked to events and being part of the community and especially serving as a role model for others who aspire to a career in broadcast journalism or meteorology,” said Loresca, “I want them to feel it’s attainable and something they can reach for. I want to be that person they can talk to – not just somebody they see on television.”
Around La Verne, there have been several Loresca sightings and opportunities to say hello, whether she’s grabbing a slice of pizza, pumping her own gas or shopping at the new Vons.
“Let me tell you, Frisella’s Roastery has a very special place in my heart,” she said about one of her favorite La Verne haunts. “Not only do I love their chicken tortilla soup, but that was the first restaurant that Ryan took me to. That was our first date.”
A big night out for Loresca and Ryan might be going to the Claremont Village. “We love hanging out there,” Loresca said. “Now it’s blown up. They have the Hip Kitty, the Back Abbey, and I love Walter’s Restaurant.”
Normally, Loresca has to save the nightlife for the weekends because on weekdays, she typically goes to bed about 7 p.m., so she can wake up at 1:30 a.m. and be at the studio no later than 3 a.m. to begin working on her forecast.
“I have to prepare all my weathercasts and observations, then make-up and hair have to fit in that timeframe as well,” she said.
Believe it or not, her news director doesn’t dictate what the news anchors wear, nor does the studio provide any kind of wardrobe stipend. Neither the Los Angeles audience nor the production crew knows what the morning team of Kathy Vara, Alycia Lane and Loresca will be wearing on any given news day. When they’re color coordinated, it’s happenstance.
“It’s totally by accident,” Loresca confirmed. “When we see each other at work, and we all happen to be wearing magenta or purple or gray, we’re in hysterics.”
So far, Loresca hasn’t been tempted to move closer to work. “We’re big fans of La Verne,” she said. “We appreciate the community. Everyone is just so friendly, people know you by name here.”
Neither is she tempted to use her weather-casting credentials as a springboard to launch a night club act as Fritz Coleman or David Letterman has done.
“If it’s God’s will, I’d love to be the longstanding fixture in Los Angeles television like Fritz Coleman,” she said. “He’s just so talented. If I could branch out and do other stuff that makes people laugh and want to watch me, then so be it, but for now I love my job, I love doing the weather.”
Rain or shine, La Verne’s Loresca has a great spirit and attitude.
To follow Loresca’s career more closely, you can reach her via Facebook or Twitter at Elitanbcla.