To illustrate what he’s like in his offscreen life, KDFW/Channel 4 consumer reporter Steve Noviello is telling a story about his recent purchase of some patio furniture.
He was surprised at how expensive most of it is, so he bided his time for a bargain.
“I kinda waited out a store in Dallas that I knew was discontinuing a color that I wanted,” says Noviello, who marks 10 years at Fox 4 this week. “So I was waiting till I had a few pieces left and they would sell me the floor samples at a discount. They ended up doing that.”
That’s not the “illustrate” part. One of the chairs had to be special-ordered, because there were enough cushions but not enough frames. When the cushions arrived first, Noviello suspected a couple had been used. The store said to just send them back and it would send him new ones, but Noviello was skeptical because the line had been discontinued. He suspected that when the furniture finally arrived, the store would re-send the same cushions.
It took months, but the furniture arrived as a set. As a deliveryman unpacked the items, Noviello asked to check something.
“Unbeknownst to them, before I had sent the cushions back the first time, I had written my name on a slip of paper and slipped it inside the cushion cover and zipped it back up,” Noviello says in a phone interview. “So I unzipped the covers of these cushions and pulled out these pieces of paper with my signature on them. I said, ‘I don’t mean to be a pain in the neck here, but you gave me the same cushions again.’ That poor guy — I think half of him was like, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe we did that,’ and another part of him was like, ‘Who on earth does that?’”
Noviello does that. For 10 years, he has been giving viewers tips like that on segments on Fox 4 and other Fox-owned stations nationwide. Fox 4 will celebrate his milestone with a special, Decade of Deals, at 9:30 p.m. Friday on KDFW/Channel 4.
And what about the cushions? “I kept the cushions, and I got a check for 100 bucks from the store,” he says.
Though Noviello didn’t start his career as a consumer reporter — his first job was at a station in Vermont — he says it is the storytelling form that suits him best.
“I tell people all the time, ‘It’s not an act,’” he says. “Everything that you see on TV, that’s the kind of person that I am. I love getting a great deal on things, I’m fascinated by consumer technology, I will shop for years for something just to make sure I get the best quality and the best deal.”
Noviello set a goal for himself of being in a top 20 market by the time he was 30. He was working as a consumer reporter for a Fox station in Greensboro, N.C., when the KDFW opportunity came up. It was a shot at a top 5 market — and he was only 28. He’d also had an opportunity to work at an NBC station in Phoenix, but he thought Fox was a better fit for his style.
“One of the luxuries that we have as a Fox station is because we do so many hours of news every day, we generally get to have longer-format franchise pieces,” Noviello says (although all local stations have increased their news hours in the past couple of years, Fox 4 has the 4:30-9 a.m. Good Day as well as a 9 p.m. newscast that typically runs 60 minutes to go along with newscasts in other slots). “I also think that the sometimes slightly irreverent and certainly more entertaining style that I find with Fox made me a good fit for Fox.”
Noviello has grown into one of the station’s more high-profile personalities, and about three years ago, he suggested to Fox that his segments might work on other company-owned stations as well. His segments now air on 13 to 16 Fox stations weekly; often he will film the same segment several times, to make it fit the different markets.
He has helped viewers with budget advice and is often surprised when he hears from people who don’t plan budgets for something they need or want. But he’s not above playing with toys — he’s a gadget lover, and one of the highlights of his job is attending the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. But even there, he’s more likely to highlight the mom-and-pop inventors than the corporations. Here’s one of his recent “fun” stories.
Mostly, he says, he likes getting to report on things that he’s interested in learning about himself.
“[Consumer reporting is] really the great equalizer among all of our viewers,” he says. “We have people who come from different economic backgrounds and they have different hobbies, and they live in different areas, but at the end of the day, they each had to purchase the TV that they watch us on.
“I’ve never met anybody who doesn’t like to get the most for their money, who doesn’t like if something works or not, who doesn’t want to get value for their family.”