They Started in Erie
By Ginny Tonkin staff blogger
They Started in Erie celebrates those successful stars who've lived and started out in our big, little town.   Read more about this blog.
 Phone: 814-870-1915
Posted: August 3rd, 2010
Not just lucky

With too many lucky breaks, it gets hard to pass off your success as plain old good fortune.

You must have talent.

Landing her own recurring segment on the local nightly news at the age of 11, this Erieite scooped interviews from Michael Jordan to Jim Kelly until the allure of a normal high school life pulled her away from the small screen.

But lightning struck twice, and as a college student, she was on-air again, picked to co-host Live! With Regis and Kelly while Ms.Ripa was on maternity leave.

Now a successful TV personality, she can’t be just lucky. You can’t deny: This woman has talent.

Sansone is an avid dog lover, pioneering a doggie adoption segment on LX NY

Maria and Ralphie. Sansone pioneered a dog adoption segment on LX NY.

Who’s who: Maria Sansone

Why care: Sansone packs a résumé longer than veteran broadcasters, having her own show, “Down to Size,” on WJET-TV24 as a tween and co-hosting with Regis Philbin as a junior at Syracuse University.

Now a New York resident, she currently a works as a correspondent for LX New York, a lifestyle program broadcast daily for NYC locals on NBC.

Erie link: Sansone grew up in Erie, attending Villa Maria Academy for high school.

Lucky break: Mike Gallagher of WJET spotted Sansone during a slam dunk contest of Erie’s then basketball team, the Wave, as she wowed the crowd with her ham routine.

Turned down Oprah: Wanting to send the message to both her parents and her producers that she wanted to slow down to be a normal kid, Sansone turned down an opportunity to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Validation: Sansone didn’t do much with TV until college when she became one of 10 finalists out of 10,000 to be on Live! With Regis and Kelly. “That validated me for me,” said Sansone, who did not just want to ride the coattails of her “Down to Size” fame.

Erie’s big role: To get the final spot, finalists had to win online—one vote only from each computer. “I have to credit the people of Erie for getting me on the show, they really rallied around me,” says Sansone, thanking everyone who voted in one of the first-ever internet voting contests for her spot on Live!

After college: “I had the time of my life—this is what I knew I wanted to do,” the TV personality said of her time on Live! She has since been an MTV VJ, hosted MTV’s The Freshmen, Yahoo’s The 9, and YouTube’s PopTub.

Advice: “Everywhere I am, I try to put my own spin on it, make it my own,” said Sansone, who has pioneered a doggie adoption segment on LX NY.

Visits Erie: About four or five times a year, especially the holidays. A confirmation sponsor for her high school senior younger brother, she wants to make sure she’s in town to see those special events, especially his basketball games. And this summer, “Instead of picking some exotic place,” Sansone and her husband will be “kicking back in Erie.”

Sansone’s own “Taste of Erie:” Sansone brought her friends home for her wedding, showcasing Erie’s finest in a “week of festivities.” The bridal party celebrated at Waldameer Park, and guests were treated to a mini “Taste of Erie” at a Yacht Club rehearsal dinner, complete with Smith’s hotdogs, pepperoni balls, perch, and pizza from International Bakery.

Who do you want to see? Let me know at

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