NTV’s Toni-Marie Wiseman takes time to savour the simple things in life, like popcorn and movies with her family.
It’s a cold Sunday, smack dab in the middle of winter, and Grace Butler is making big plans.
There is no school today, no music lessons or acting classes – a perfect day to spend with just her mom and dad. Grace’s choice of entertainment is perfect, a matinée movie at the mall to watch A Dog’s Way Home. These are precious times for Kenny Butler and his wife Toni-Marie Wiseman, watching their adorable little girl grow each and every day.
“Grace is our life, and she’s the sweetest little girl,” says Mom who, like Grace, loves a good movie at the theatre.
Of course she does. Their little family has a penchant for the arts. Kenny, of course, is musical and has been a performer for much of his life, fronting local rock bands and acting in dinner theatres. Wiseman, we know, has spent much of her career as a champion of the arts, profiling bands, actors, authors, painters and more as the station’s award-winning entertainment reporter.
Fact is, the arts is exactly what connected this sweet couple.
‘Love at first sight’
Wiseman, as NTV’s entertainment reporter, was interviewing a handsome musician back in 2008. Butler, born and raised in South River, was part of the dinner theatre show When Larry Met Sally, a Spirit of Newfoundland production that not only captivated the audience but, well, the interviewer as well.
“Aside from the fact he was gorgeous, he was also a lovely person. It was love at first sight.”
The feeling was mutual. They fell fast and wasted little time making memories, even travelling to Graceland. Both are big Elvis fans and they even have an adorable picture of Grace’s first Halloween dressed as a little Elvis.
“Our poor girl didn’t have a chance,” jokes Wiseman, who’s first arrived at NTV in the fall of 1989. “How can you not love Elvis?”
Their romance continued for several years before exchanging vows in the spring of 2016. Wiseman says they are a lot alike in many ways, but – as with many relationships – have their own interests. He’s a computer wizard and loves technology, while she, well, is not.
But nothing compares to being parents. It’s their greatest accomplishment. Grace is clearly influenced by her mom and dad’s love for the arts. A Grade 3 French Immersion student, Grace has been enrolled in Music for Young Children (with Heather Meaney) since she was just four years old. She loves to play piano and loves a duet with her daddy. She’s also a proud member of Patricia Andrews’ Performing Arts Group. This spring, she’ll take on the role of ‘Jennydots’ in Cats, a musical being staged at the Arts and Culture Centre.
“We’re so proud of her. Grace is a little shy but she comes alive on stage,” says Wiseman. “Grace is a different person when she performs. We love that about her.”
Like most families, finding quality time to spend together is always a challenge but it’s one they take seriously. Sunday is family day, a chance to enjoy each other’s company – whether it’s visiting grandparents, enjoying the outdoors or, their favourite pastime, taking in a movie (cinnamon sugar pretzel bites for Grace, please).
Yes, both mom and dad have busy careers. Kenny is a sales executive and Wiseman is one of the most identifiable faces in Newfoundland and Labrador news media.
“We are like most families, just trying to balance our careers and family life,” she says. “It is tough at times because our industry can be unpredictable, but we make sure to have our family together as much as possible.”
Wiseman, 52, first arrived at NTV almost three decades ago, Thanksgiving Day of ’89. Much, and little, has changed in almost three decades. She’s grown up in homes all across this province, and abroad. She’s received with open arms in almost every inlet and community across Newfoundland and Labrador, often recognized as a part of the extended family that is so often talked about in this province.
Wiseman has accomplished so much in her career, and her connection with the audience is perhaps linked to the fact that she was able to show her personality on air. She spent much of her career in the community, sharing the province’s weather while celebrating the best we have to offer. She performed with the Moscow State Circus, juggled fire with Cirque de Soliel and was, for one magical night, a fourth member of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.
For a province that craves weather information, Wiseman delivered, but did so with a smile (even in the most severe weather). The audience appreciated it.
But her role didn’t stop there. She was also the station’s entertainment reporter for almost 25 years, showcasing this province’s best talent and the unofficial TV ambassador for big acts performing here. She’s interviewed some of the greats like Bon Jovi, Meatloaf and Air Supply to Canadian favourites such as Bryan Adams, Sarah MacLaughin and Tom Cochrane.
In the summer of 2012, when Glen Carter was leaving First Edition and making the transition to the flagship show at 6 o’clock, SCI president Scott Stirling had an important decision to make. Who would take over the role of anchor at 5:30? Wiseman was undeniably his choice. She was already an established anchor, hosting Newsday and the NTV Sunday Evening Newshour for close to two decades and spending months of the year filling in for Lynn Burry on the NTV Evening Newshour. The transition was seamless.
A ratings hit!
First Edition remains a ratings winner. In fact, close to 90,000 viewers in this province tune into the program each night, a huge lead-in show for the NTV Evening Newshour. Wiseman typically provides feature-length interviews with the biggest newsmakers of the day, from the Premier or senior cabinet ministers to business or union leaders, among others. Plus, you can always count on plenty of local content as well as national and international news stories.
“I truly enjoy anchoring this show,” she says. “There’s something interesting in it for everyone. It’s a fun show for me to write and put together. I’m very thankful to have a career I love.”
But, like most, she enjoys a break. With a busy work life and a busier school year, their family is looking forward to an upcoming vacation and then, Grace’s summer holidays.
Warm and caring
Grace is also anticipating working alongside her mom during this year’s Janeway Telethon. She’ll actually appear in an upcoming Janeway commercial and, even cooler, will get to push the button during the live telethon broadcast.
“Grace is very excited to be part of the telethon,” says Wiseman, who has been host of the event since Grace was born. “Even though Grace is only eight, she does understand the importance of the Janeway and how it helps other children like her.
“That’s another thing we love so much about Grace, her empathy. She’s a very warm and caring little girl who always thinks of others first. That’s a quality you just can’t teach.”
It’s said that family is the single most important influence in a child’s life – someone you can count on, feel secure with and share your problems with. For Wiseman, parenthood brings a real sense of purpose and there’s no greater accomplishment to her, than being a mom.
Watch Toni-Marie Wiseman weekdays as she anchors Newsday (at Noon) and First Edition (at 5:30 p.m.).