HIGH PROFILE: Lisa Gibson Fischer a natural in media – Arkansas Online

Lisa Fischer commands attention, typically preferring to train it on someone or something else.

Her reach on social media is about 16,000 strong, give or take some duplication between platforms, and she has her own brand, “Lisa Fischer Said.”

She shares information about beauty products, fashion, food, bio-identical hormones, thyroid disease and intermittent fasting — and if there’s something new to say about the Kardashians — she’s there for that, too.

“I would rather be a micro-influencer than to be a Kardashian with millions because I like my audience in Central Arkansas,” Fischer says. “A lot of good people do a lot of good things, and I love getting to do that.”

She has monetized her website — www.lisafischersaid.com — does radio ads and podcasts and emcees events, and she eagerly takes on projects with people who are doing things she believes in. She’s also editor-at-large at AY Magazine.

When it comes to her own life, she shares even the grittiest details.

“I’ll start with the very beginning, which was being born in Newark, New Jersey, to a beautiful red-haired mother and a very witty Jewish father. Frank Kaplan was his name — Kaplan, which was a common Jewish name,” Fischer says, telling it again. “He was a siding salesman in New York and New Jersey in the ’50s and ’60s, and he ran around with Rodney Dangerfield, the comic, who was also a siding salesman. Isn’t that funny?”

Both of her parents battled addictions, she says, and they divorced when she was a toddler. Her mother, Jean Kaplan, remarried, this time to a man with bipolar disorder and a drug addiction. That marriage, too, ended in divorce.

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<a class="gallery__link" href="https://wehco.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/photos/2020/08/30/resized_303085-fischer-2-0830_47-30436_t1000.JPG?cc6fa094ad523b984325c7879220d3883a443e7f" data-fancybox="images" data-caption="Photo by Cary Jenkins
“I picked up a Southern accent, I picked up all the Southern charms, except I still have a hard New Jersey edge. I’m real direct still in the way I communicate with people, but I try to chase it with a ‘y’all’ or a ‘bless your heart.’” (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins) “>
Photo by Cary Jenkins
“I picked up a Southern accent, I picked up all the Southern charms, except I still have a hard New Jersey edge. I’m real direct still in the way I communicate with people, but I try to chase it with a ‘y’all’ or a ‘bless your heart.’”
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Cary Jenkins)

“We were a Jewish family. My mother’s a Gentile, but she named me Lisa which she told me it was Hebrew for ‘God’s gift.’ I don’t think she was exactly right, but that was before Google,” Fischer says. “I didn’t know I wasn’t in the Smithsonian because she told me I was wonderful, funny, beautiful and I believed her.”

NEW JERSEY TO NEW ORLEANS

TO DERMOTT

Fischer learned as a child to use humor to smooth over situations that were anything but funny. She tried to make her mother laugh in hopes she wouldn’t drink.

They had moved from Newark to New Orleans, where her mother’s family lived, by the time Fischer was 11. Money was tight and for Christmas that year, 1974, her mother wrote her a note explaining she couldn’t afford other gifts but that she had put a bedroom suite on layaway for her.

Three weeks after her 12th birthday that January, Fischer unplugged the phone, closed the door to her mother’s bedroom and left for school. Her mother had broken her toe and was taking pain medication, and Fischer wanted her to rest undisturbed.

When Fischer returned from school that afternoon, her cousin was waiting outside. She had been ringing the doorbell but had gotten no answer, so Fischer used her key to let them in.

“My cousin kept the door closed, but I peeked in and saw my mother lying in bed, deceased. I remember thinking, ‘She couldn’t have died. She loved me too much to die,'” Fischer says. “My mother used to wash my hair every Sunday in the kitchen sink. I remember thinking, ‘Who’s going to wash my hair?'”

After her mother’s death, she moved to Dermott to live with her cousin Sherry Gibson and Sherry’s husband Charles Sidney Gibson, who later adopted her.

“I am forever grateful that they made such enormous sacrifices for me,” Fischer wrote in a piece that appeared in AY in May 2019.

LEARNING TO SPEAK SOUTHERN

Still, the move was not easy.

“It was not my choice of destinations,” she says. “Let’s go back through geographically … Newark, N.J., New Orleans and then Dermott. I thought the turnip truck had dropped me off in the middle of nowhere. It was such a shock.”

She struggled to fit in.

“I talked different; I looked different. My cadence was different. The Gibson family tried to make it as normal as possible, but I wasn’t welcomed because I had a potty mouth. I was from the real mean streets of the city. I had never been to a church.”

In New Orleans, she had a deadbolt on her locker and she learned to give up prized possessions to girls who were tougher than she was.

“So then I moved to, like, Mayberry, and I just had never seen anything like it,” she says. “I couldn’t understand them. It was really like I was speaking another language, and they couldn’t understand me.”

She has come a long way since then.

“Now, I speak Arkansan all the way,” she says. “I picked up a Southern accent, I picked up all the Southern charms, except I still have a hard New Jersey edge. I’m real direct still in the way I communicate with people, but I try to chase it with a ‘y’all’ or a ‘bless your heart.'”

GRAMMAR NERDS

Allison Johnson, development director of the Gaines House in Little Rock, knew Fischer’s background and approached her about being involved with a fundraiser for the Gaines House in Little Rock.

“I thought she wanted me to emcee it, and I said, ‘I’m your emcee,'” Fischer says.

Johnson didn’t want her to be the emcee. Fischer will receive the Sandra Wilson Cherry Award at a virtual fundraiser for the Gaines House in October.

The Gaines House is a nonprofit, transitional living space for women who are homeless and have a mental, physical or behavioral disability. They get 24-hour support and supervision as they work toward independence.

The Sandra Wilson Cherry Award Dinner was originally scheduled for September but will be converted to a virtual event and is rescheduled for later in the fall because of the covid-19 pandemic. The online event will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22.

“The fact that Lisa has this skill set during this unusual time is a big blessing because she can really speak to the needs of the Gaines House, not only what we do and what we’ve been doing for over 50 years, but about the creativity we need with fundraising,” says Johnson, who has known Fischer since she was 4 years old and Fischer was her occasional babysitter.

Fischer’s friend Rush Harding is co-chair of the event.

Harding listened to Fischer every day when she co-hosted the morning show on B98.5, and when she left the radio station in June 2018, he asked her to help promote Cache Restaurant, a joint venture between him and his son, Payne Harding.

He and Fischer formed a special bond over language.

“Nobody appreciates grammar anymore. Nobody knows what a gerund is, and no one seems to know what an infinitive is. No one knows how to conjugate a verb. No one knows how to diagram a sentence,” says Harding, co-founder of Crews and Associates. “Lisa Fischer is the only other human being on the planet Earth that I’ve met that is as fastidious about grammar as I am. I just can’t stand it if somebody doesn’t know the difference between an objective and nominative case pronoun. That’s one of her pet peeves as well. So we have fun being grammar nerds together.”

Fischer made an A in Bob Douglas’ copy editing class at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, right before he left the school to be managing editor at the Arkansas Gazette. Douglas, then chairman of the journalism department, promised to give her a job as a copy editor after graduation.

MAKING IT IN RADIO

She pursued a career in television instead, eventually landing a job as a desk assistant at KATV. She told a consultant who came through the newsroom asking about staff members’ goals that what she really wanted to do was have a talk show.

“He goes, ‘Well, this isn’t the right place.’ He said, ‘You need to consider radio.’ But radio wasn’t on my radar,” she says.

She was laid off in 1986 and found her way to radio. What started as “The Lisa Gibson Show” on KARN morphed into the “The Lisa Fischer Show” when she married Kris Fischer.

She met Kris in 1986 on a blind double date — with his best friend rather than with him. She bumped into him a year later and he asked her to go to church the next day.

“We got married five months later,” she says.

Her first radio gig didn’t work out quite as well.

“I was probably 23 years old on a talk show that the average listener was a 42-year-old male. My ratings were terrible,” she says. “I was let go.”

Copy editing, public relations work and her job as the Dialing for Dollars girl on KARK kept her afloat. Though she found work with two more stations, she found her niche at neither, and after she had her three children — Sidney, Gibson and Anna Margaret — she left radio and TV behind to homeschool them.

In 2006, Randy Cain, the program director at B98.5, asked if she would fill in on the station’s morning show. She stayed for 12 years.

“I never really thought I would ever put my feet back in the water,” she says. “But I could because in morning radio, I would get to B98.5 at 5 a.m. for the 5:30 show and I’d be home by 9.”

Her longtime co-host Jeff Matthews, now public relations specialist at Conway Corp., says he played “straight man” to Fischer’s “big personality.”

“I was really OK being kind of in the background,” he says. “She would walk in the studio before 5 o’clock with the same amount of energy and going the same pace as she would at the end of the day. She was so well read and was prepared with an opinion. It wasn’t just kind of shooting off the mouth, there was substance to it.”

Former Democrat-Gazette editor and columnist Jennifer Christman Cia met Fischer through Matthews and their first conversation was about undergarments. Fischer asked if she was wearing Spanx and instead of being offended Cia was charmed.

Fischer wanted Cia to do a segment on the show she co-hosted with Matthews.

“She marched right into a sponsor’s office and she said, ‘We need money, so can you sponsor Jennifer to be on our radio show?'” Cia says. “What’s so amazing is not only that she did it, but that they said OK.”

Women in the media aren’t always as supportive as they could be of one another, and Fischer’s action proved to Cia she was exceptional.

“That story, to me, just really does show Lisa and how she will go to bat for people and things that she believes in,” she says. “I have no idea what I did to deserve her friendship, her support in my life. At first, I wasn’t entirely sure I trusted this woman who all of a sudden wanted to just help me out. She did, and it came with no strings attached.”

Fischer and Cia found their way to fun mischief, on and off the radio, and their friendship has extended well past their time on the show.

“Lisa has taught me about being a friend,” Cia says. “The only thing bigger than Lisa’s personality is her heart, truly. She’s always the first to call you. She’s the first to remember your birthday. She is the first to write you a thank you note, to make you a casserole, to give you thyroid advice. She’s the first to cheer you up. And I’ve said it in my column, but she’s the last one to stop laughing at your jokes.”

EXTREME EXTROVERT

When Natalie Ghidotti was editor of Little Rock Family, she often did promotional spots at B98.5, and she and Fischer quickly became friends.

“We’re very similar personalities — enneagram seven, super extroverted, all of that — and we’re both in similar fields,” says Ghidotti, owner of Ghidotti Communications.

She appreciates Fischer’s willingness to share personal experiences in hopes they might help others.

“I swear she’s the guru of intermittent fasting,” says Ghidotti, who was convinced by Fischer to give it a try. “I’m not one to do anything like that. … I thought it was ridiculous. But she said, ‘I promise you that you will want to try this, and I did and you know what? I was like, “Oh my gosh, I really love it.'”

Christina Wren first encountered Fischer at a weekend for high school seniors at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

“She looks like my mother. My mom was tall and dark-headed, and I always thought I was going to grow up to look like that. Lisa had on this dress that I loved that actually we sold in the clothing store where I worked,” Wren says. “So I had noticed her, you know, she’s so striking. Her real mama had red hair and I have red hair, and so she came up to me and she was playing with the back of my hair. It was long. She said, ‘Oh, my real mama had red hair. Will you be my best friend?’ And I said, ‘Sure.'”

Later, students were asked to introduce themselves and say what high school they went to.

“None of us turned around with the microphone. We stared straight ahead, we spoke as fast as we could and we passed that microphone off like a hot potato,” she recalls. “Well, she gets that microphone and she turns around, and she says in that deep voice, I’m Lisa K. Gibson from the Big D, Dermott, L.A. — lower Arkansas — and she starts to go on about where she goes to high school, where she’s from, and what she’s going to be, I think she talked about her political views. None of us even knew our political views, you know? Our mouths were open. We were looking at her like, ‘Who is that?'”

Wren jokes that Fischer’s children, two of them redheads, resemble her, while her own children look more like Fischer.

All these years later, they are still best friends, having been through several life changes, including the sudden death of Wren’s husband in 2017.

Fischer learned about the Gaines House when Wren’s grandmother died and donations in her honor were directed to that organization.

“It just wasn’t on my radar before that,” Fischer says. “I thought, ‘Why don’t I know about this? This is something that’s a real valuable service to the community.'”

She can imagine that her own mother may have benefited from an organization like the Gaines House.

“I would have gone off to college. She may have found herself in that situation of no job and really not knowing what to do. They help these women get jobs, go to therapy, get the training they need. My mother just kind of fell through the cracks,” she says. “The happy ending for me is the fact that I married a very healthy man, raised our children, we’re now grandparents, empty nesters and having the best time of our lives.”

SELF PORTRAIT

• DATE AND PLACE OF BIRTH: Jan. 5, 1963; Newark, N.J.

• SOMETHING I ALWAYS HAVE IN MY PURSE: Lipstick and gloss.

• TO MY FANTASY DINNER PARTY, I WOULD INVITE: Lucille Ball, Joan Rivers, Kathie Lee Gifford, my late biological mother, my late adoptive mother.

• MY KIDS WOULD SAY I’M: “Lit.” It’s a term millennials use that means “fun.” (I had to ask them for their quote as any good journalist would.) One said, “Generous.” The third one said, “Fun-loving.”

• I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD: Lighten up on social media.

• THE BEST ADVICE I EVER GOT: Learn to laugh at yourself; beat others to the punch.

• I KNEW I WAS AN ADULT WHEN: I held my daughter in my arms for the first time.

• MY PET PEEVE IS: Bad grammar.

• I WISH I COULD: Sing.

• ONE WORD TO SUM ME UP: Ebullient

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Author: HOCAdmin