From Rhody to The Rhode Show, URI alumna named co-host of Fox Providence Morning Show
Ericka Tavares, 401-874-2935
When musician Mary Larsen was auditioning to become the next co-host of The Rhode Show, she seized an opportunity that had the power to reduce others to nail biting and panic.
“As a musician you have to work on your confidence and your performing skills and that is what I worked on at URI,” said Larsen, a 2004 graduate of URI who sings and plays any instrument you can name. “With all the different ensembles (she belonged to at URI) I was performing multiple times a month. As an RA and an orientation leader, I had to be a leader and a role model and, through that, I just gained a lot of public speaking skills and a lot of self confidence I didn’t have back in high school.”
Those traits will work in her favor this January when she sits in the co-host chair on the Fox Providence morning talk show. As part of the extensive audition process, Larsen suggested a new segment. Inspired by the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs and its firsthand glimpse into various occupations, “If The Shoe Fits” would be an opportunity for Larsen to take a close look at jobs throughout the state. In preparation for pitching her segment idea, she spent the day with a local beekeeper.
“I was in bee suit! It was scary and it was great,” said Larsen, who earned an appreciation for the job and now understands how local honey differs from what you usually find at the grocery store and why it costs more. “I want to do stories outside the studio.”
Married for a year and a half, Larsen and her husband Blake live in East Greenwich. A graduate of Toll Gate High School in Warwick, she has been the youth ensembles coordinator and a branch coordinator for Rhode Island Philharmonic. She remains a teacher for the organization. She was also Providence Country Day’s Performing Arts Director and works with a local film production company, Verdi Productions.
“I’m a performer by nature and most of the time it’s been with an instrument in my hand,” she said.
Larsen was one of more than 100 co-host hopefuls to show up at Twin River Casino in October and give a brief interview on camera. Based on the voting of judges from Fox Providence and online voting, 20 finalists were selected. A shocked Larsen was instructed to come to the studio for a job interview and she practiced reading off the teleprompter. Videos of the 20 finalists were posted online and another round of voting commenced. Twenty finalists became ten. And then five. Larsen said she bonded with the remaining candidates because they spent quality time together. They were arm-in-arm wearing fancy dresses when the decision was announced Monday on live television a la Miss America.
Despite the glamour of that moment, Larsen is a self-admitted nerd and Harry Potter fan. She laughed when asked which Harry Potter character she would most like to be. Although she admitted she is most like Ron, she said she’d prefer to be one of his twin brothers, preferably George, given the outcome of the series.
“They knew how to have the most fun.”
Larsen said two people at URI were instrumental in making her experience in Kingston so positive. She still keeps in touch with URI Assistant Director of Bands Brian Cardany. And as a peer advocate, she enjoyed spending time with Jennifer Longa, assistant director of the Violence Prevention and Advocacy Services.
“They were my rocks,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with both of them.”