MSNBC: — GirlQuake! by Mikki Halpin, October 12, 1997

Soledad FAQ

Q. How did you go about getting your job on The Site?

A. My long relationship with NBC News helped. The fact that I covered technology for Discovery helped. The General Manager of Ziff-Davis Television used to be my boss at KnowZone. I thought the job was right up my alley, and I lobbied hard for it.

Q. Is The Site a 60 minute commercial for MSNBC/Microsoft?

A. Nope– actually The Site is produced by Ziff Davis Television (ZD being the folks who do all those computer mags) and NBC News. NBC and ZD decide the editorial content, not MSNBC and not Microsoft. Most of us who work here are journalists with many years in the bizness– our Executive Producer was the Senior Producer for Dan Rather’s Evening News, and I’ve been in network and local news for seven years, just to give a couple of examples.

Q. What is your favorite browser?

A. I use Netscape Navigator 3.0 the most; Internet Explorer 3.0 is second-runner-up.

Q. What browser does The Site use?

A. Actually, we have every browser out there available to all our guests and employees. Everyone uses the browser of his or her choice.

Q. What kind of computer do you use?

A. A Mac Quadra at home, a Micron at work. The Mac makes much more intuitive sense (to me, at least)– I always seem to be losing documents in Windows 95. But I like how much faster The Site’s T1 lines are than my modem at home.

Q. What platform does The Site use?

A. We use Microns and Power Macs, and we have a Sparcstation. See the Inventory page on our website for a complete list of all the hardware and software we use.

Q. What is a “soledad”?

A. A prison in Northern California. (No kidding!) But my name is just a small piece of my given name: Maria de la Soledad, which loosely translated means “The Virgin Mary” in Spanish.

Q. What is your marital status?

A. I am married (and O’Brien is my maiden name).

Q. Why do you always wear black?

A. Because I like black.

Q. Do you hate dEV?

A. No… he is the vile little puppet man– no more, no less! I think he deserves to be slapped every so often, and I’m the one to do it.

Q. Weren’t you on the Know Zone?

A. Yes, I co-hosted KnowZone with Don Blue (who actually never left his fabulous radio gig– he’s one of the most popular DJs in San Francisco). It aired for two seasons on the Discovery Channel.

Q. What happened to it?

A. After two seasons it was canceled. The stories (who canceled it and why) vary, but the show was not picked up, in spite of its popularity. Do I sound bitter? Actually, I’m not. Ending KnowZone freed me from KRON to work at The Site.

Q. What local news stations have you worked for?

A. In 1989, I started working at WBZ-TV in Boston. It was NBC then; now it’s CBS. Then I went to NBC News in NY, then to another NBC affiliate, KRON-TV in San Francisco.

Q. What else do you use computers for besides Web surfing?

A. I try to do all my banking– I find it too hard to be that organized. I am writing a novel on my Mac. I never visit chat rooms. I rarely play games– although I really like the new Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo N64. (Except the annoying music.)

Q. Are you a computer geek?

A. I don’t think so. Computers are not the end-all of my existence– I just like what I can do with them. Maybe this is a question others will have to answer for me.

Q. What are your hobbies?

A. Nothing too odd. I try to exercise a lot– running, swimming, snorkeling, occasional hikes. I horseback ride, I am actually a decent flautist. I’m sure if pressed I could make a macrame handbag, which I once knew how to do.

Q. What do you do for entertainment?

A. I love movies. (Loved Lone Star, hated First Wives Club, and sort of disliked 2 Days in the Valley.) I cook, I bake, I write, and I read a ton.

Q. What is your fave music?

A. I have really eclectic tastes– I like everything… SOME country, Reba McEntire, lots of R&B.; I love Luther Vandross, old Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye; not a big fan of heavy metal, or easy listening, or hard core rap. Like 2Pac, but not Whitney Houston; like Toni Braxton, but definitely not Madonna. I like Maxwell, the soundtrack from Get on the Bus, and anything I can sing along with really loud.

Q. What is your best email?

A. My old boss wrote to say he liked the show and was proud of me.

Q. What’s all this talk of a tattoo about?

A. [There was no comment to this question…wonder why…;) She said “pigs will fly” before she will talk about the tattoo thing.]

Q. What bothers you the most about being on TV?

A. One thing I hate about television, especially as a women: Everyone feels compelled to rate your appearance, your hair, your clothes. Viewers don’t seem to care about what Craig wears, or what Leo wears. Or what any guy on television wears. Just the women.

Q. How do I join the Soledad O’Brien Fan Club?

A. Right now, the site for it is under construction, so you must send email to Tom Ezdebski at

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