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Pushing the reset button 

Lisa Fischer retires – sort of.

click to enlarge 'CHICK CHAT': Longtime broadcast journalist Lisa Fischer (right) joins colleague Kattie Hansen on a new YouTube series.
  • 'CHICK CHAT': Longtime broadcast journalist Lisa Fischer (right) joins colleague Kattie Hansen on a new YouTube series.

Within the first 90 seconds of conversation with Lisa Fischer, I — like her longtime radio audience — had fallen right into her rhythm. In that time, she'd covered the keto diet her husband is on, the benefits of intermittent fasting ("Food slows us down," she said) and the delight of breaking those intermittent fasts with a Lemon Roll from Cinnamon Creme Bakery in West Little Rock. "Have you ever been there?" I tell her I haven't, and the exclamation that followed was half ecstasy, half admonishment. "Girl!" she squealed. "It's like a cinnamon roll," she gushed, "but with this lemon glaze! Ooh!"

On June 22, Fischer retired from her longtime gig on KURB-FM, 98.5 ("B98.5"), ending a 12-year run as one of the voices that greeted listeners on the 5:30 a.m. daily timeslot — a time when Fischer confesses she "thought even God took a little catnap." What started as a guest spot in 2006, when Fischer filled in for a couple of days at the behest of program director Randy Cain, stuck. "I am weary of a 4 a.m. alarm," the announcement on Fischer's website reads. "I want to do more things." One of those things is being deemed one of Little Rock's "Best Radio Personalities" for this year's "Best Of" issue of the Arkansas Times. "That just totally shocks me," she told me over the phone. "I'm, like, me?"

Phrases like "gig economy," "influencer" and "vlogging" weren't part of the popular vernacular when Fischer started her radio and TV career in the 1980s. In many ways, though, that's exactly the sort of niche Fischer was carving out for herself in the local media business. Back then, she was a part-time entertainment reporter for KARK, Channel 4, and host of an afternoon talk show on KARN-AM, 920, putting news and opinion into bite-sized pieces. Or, as her bio self-deprecatingly puts it, "blather[ing] about nothing." That so-called "blathering" turned out to be exactly the sort of guileless, mile-a-minute banter Little Rock listeners liked to hear on their morning commutes. Ratings for the morning show swelled. Fischer's freelance schedule swelled right alongside them, and listeners stuck around to listen to Fischer even as her cast of cohorts changed. "God's given me this gift of communication," she told me, "and I need to use it."

On a Friday morning earlier this month, with her grandbaby cradled in her arms, Fischer and I talked over the phone as she prepared to transition from babysitting duty to filming the first episode of "Chick Chat" in the wine room at Bowman Pointe, a high-end West Little Rock apartment complex. The new YouTube series launched July 18 with Fischer and fellow "seasoned broadcasters, wives and snarky wine-drinkers" Robyn Richardson and Kattie Hansen waxing about topics like "Beauty Tips & Tricks." The following exposition introduces its teaser reel: "Have you spent your summer wondering about the real matters affecting Americans, like Shape Tape and nipple covers? Well, three girls from Little Rock, AR, sure have. ... Tune in Wednesdays at 4:30 for new episodes of Chick Chat. We'll make you forget that you have mildewed laundry in the washer." It's a greatest hits tour of the trio's favored beauty products (anti-wrinkle serum foundations! collagen eye masks! lip products you can skimp on!) and it's delivered with energy and cheek (literally and figuratively). It also bears Fischer's signature transparency and warm candor; the 55-year old makes no bones (or apologies) about her laser treatments or cosmetic boosts. She also doesn't shy away from recognizing the double standards that the broadcasting industry can employ when it comes to beauty and gender. "You know, Shep Smith can show that little bit of gray, but if a woman does it .... ." Fischer's Facebook post extolling the glories of something called "Lash Lift" isn't a presentation of a polished, finished face; it's an invitation to the process itself — one that makes her feel beautiful and prepared. I asked her what else qualifies for her list of must-haves. "I need a little lipstick, a little lip gloss, a little eyeliner. I like my fragrances — a little Jo Malone fragrance. Scents mean a lot to me, so I like a diffuser going. I like a house that smells good. Molly Maid comes and uses that purple Pine-Sol. I could drink it! I love that stuff."

And what exactly does a retiree need to feel beautiful and prepared for? Retirement, in Fischer's case, comes with qualifiers — air quotes, maybe. She's doing a podcast for the Arkansas Heart Hospital, writing for AY Magazine, filming commercials for Ron Sherman Advertising, recording radio ads for longtime clients, spending some time with the grandbaby and making good on her new mantra: "If it doesn't bring you life, get rid of it."

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