It’s a sure bet that no other guest co-host of “The Talk” this week can match the story Susan Koeppen has.
The weekday CBS program started welcoming personalities from network-owned affiliates across the country with weathercaster John Elliott of New York’s WCBS-TV on Monday (June 25). Formerly CBS News’ consumer reporter, Emmy winner Koeppen now is an evening news anchor for Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV, and she appears on “The Talk” Tuesday — discussing how she almost died last fall.
“They asked for the stories the station did on my cardiac arrest,” Koeppen tells Zap2it about her collapse while jogging in November in the Pittsburgh area, not long after she ran a 5K race. One of her fellow joggers was a physician, and two medical students passing by helped administer CPR to her until EMS technicians arrived with a defibrillator.
“When it first happened,” Koeppen reflects, “I never cried, I never had any emotion about it, because I didn’t remember anything. It was just sort of something that happened, and I was moving on and getting better. But whenever I give a speech now and I’m asked to tell my story, I totally break down. I always tell people, ‘Please grab your hankies, because I have mine handy.'”
Also the wife of a doctor, Koeppen had surgery in March to repair the faulty heart valve that caused her crisis, and she was back at the KDKA anchor desk two months later. Recently, she also threw out the first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game and participated in a walk to benefit the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.
A huge advocate of people learning CPR, Koeppen knows she won’t be alone at the “Talk” table as someone concerned about health: “Sharon Osbourne is now dealing with the news that her son Jack has multiple sclerosis, and that is something that changes your life. It comes out of the blue, you suddenly get the diagnosis, and you deal with it. It’s sort of the same thing that happened with me. Something happened, I had surgery and I’m better, and now I need to live my life.”
Though she clearly will get into serious territory on “The Talk,” Koeppen also anticipates the occasion being “super-fun” as she helps Osbourne, Sara Gilbert and company interview scheduled guests including Cedric the Entertainer (“The Soul Man”) and Cat Cora (“Around the World in 80 Plates”).
“I’m hoping I don’t have any sort of breakdown and start crying on ‘The Talk,” Koeppen says, “but it’s live television and you never know what’s going to happen. Maybe that’s why Cedric the Entertainer is going to be there.
“I go way back with Julie Chen,” adds Koeppen, “since we worked on ‘The Early Show’ together at CBS. I’m sorry she won’t be there (Koeppen will fill the vacationing ‘Talk’ co-host’s seat), but she gave me the lowdown on what to expect and how to fit in with all the ladies. I imagine it’s like what happens when I get together with a bunch of girlfriends and we sit around drinking coffee, chatting each other up about what’s going on in the world. That’s something I know how to do well.”
For the humor she expects during her “Talk” stint, Koeppen also embraces the chance to have a national platform for “my message: ‘Today is a bonus, tomorrow is not guaranteed.’ You have to live every day to the fullest, and appreciate the people and the good you have in your life.
“You never know what’s going to happen when you walk out the door in the morning. And you really don’t comprehend that until you nearly die on the sidewalk.”