I had the opportunity to interview Coronado local, Jane Mitchell, and I jumped on it! So excited to not only meet, but actually talk to Jane, I picked her brain on everything from her Coronado life to her thoughts on the changes in media. I also had the pleasure of talking with Jane’s Mother, Ann Mitchell, an eCoronado.com member who shared her love of her daughter and all her accomplishments. This interview took place at their Coronado homes one morning. We sat on Jane’s balcony, where the weather was, of course, perfect!
“I think I have found my bliss, not everyone is so lucky,” said Jane.
Growing up in Coronado, Jane, a news reporter most well known for her work with Cox Communications/Channel 4 and her “One on One With Jane Mitchell” interviews, took full advantage of the easygoing, convenient island life.
As the 1980 Miss Coronado, Jane went on to become a successful reporter, journalist, speaker and professional storyteller after graduating from Coronado High School.
“We had this wonderful playground,” Jane said. “We would take our stuffed animals in our bike baskets and pretend we were Jane Goodall playing in the bushes by the base.”
Jane’s father, Wally Mitchell, a U.S. Navy Commander, was stationed in many places across the country. Even having lived in Guam, the Mitchell family, which included Jane and her three siblings, traveled often but always returned to Coronado, home.
Jane’s mother, Ann Mitchell, 87, was a schoolteacher in Imperial Beach. Originally planning to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher, Jane changed her mind. After helping in her mother’s classroom since Jane was in first grade, she decided she just did not have the patience to be a teacher.
“Then I had what I call my eighth-grade epiphany,” said Jane, “kind of corny but it is true. I was watching the news with my dad and a reporter came on and was talking about the Mideast Peace Talks. I just knew that is what I wanted to do; I had been exposed to a lot of things being in a traveling Navy family. I knew I wanted to tell those stories. I thought I would be a foreign correspondent,” said Jane.
Jane’s mother would always tell her to “just picture yourself there and one day, you will be there.” Ann was Jane’s first teacher; she taught her to read, write and express herself, always encouraging her to ask questions.
“I was a straitlaced kid. I was able to do my thing, because I was motivated and well grounded,” said Jane.
Upon entering high school, Jane was diagnosed with scoliosis and after a month in the hospital and six months in a body cast, Jane became class president, was on the yearbook staff, and became involved in a TV program put on by the school titled “Coronado Corner.”
“It was absolutely perfect for me,” said Jane, ” It was what I wanted to do!”
Interviewing members of the community as well as students, Jane’s curiosity only grew.
“The concept [of Coronado Corner’] was to connect the community with the high school,” said Jane, “Which is what, fast forward to 1997, I do now by connecting the community of San Diego with the Padres.”
After working as a reporter in places like Oklahoma and Texas, Jane returned to San Diego to continue working in local news.
“I found myself in this really great situation where I could live in the town that I loved, be near my family and be seven minutes away from downtown San Diego,” said Jane.
Jane’s Show and Book, One on One with Jane Mitchell
One on One with Jane Mitchell’ was born after her well-known interview with Padres’ third baseman, Ken Caminiti.
“I wanted more and I believed the fans wanted more as well,” said Jane.
Her honest and vulnerable interviews with notable professional athletes including, Tony Gwynn, Trevor Hoffman, and LaDanian Tomlinson, are transcribed in her book, One on One, as well as updates on the players.
“I think they are timeless really,” said Jane, “they are people who have really made a mark and you don’t have to be from San Diego to read their stories.”
Her goal through the show has been to showcase those who are doing good things in their communities rather than focus on the negative.
Now, after 15 years and 100 shows, Jane was able to memorialize those interviews through her book.
“Jane calls One on One’ her first published book but really this was her first book,” said Ann. After completing college, Jane returned to Coronado and began to help her mom in her classroom by retyping stories Ann’s students had written throughout the year.
“She really had a lot of perseverance,” said Ann, “she was the only one that could have done this because she didn’t make mistakes and I never gave her enough credit for all the work she did.”
Jane’s Channel 4 Post-Season Success
During the 1998 season for the Padres, Jane’s show was going strong as the Padres made it to the post-season games. Although Ann was more of a “Jane fan” than a Padres fan, she attended some games because Jane wanted her family to be a part of the excitement leading up to the World Series.
“She wanted to watch TV because she wanted to watch her daughter,” said Jane, “And in the process she loved these guys, and she loved getting to know them.”
In the hour-long movie Jane helped produce, showcasing highlights of the magical Padres’ season, “A Season of Heroes,” Ann is shown blowing a kiss. While most viewers would assume this woman in the stands at a game was blowing a kiss to her beloved Padres, it was really a proud mother blowing a kiss to her daughter on the field.
Now Jane’s gig with Cox is up since Channel 4 no longer has exclusive rights to Padres coverage. Currently, Jane is working on perfecting her website, planning her next career move and enjoying time with her mom.
“Our biggest thing that we like to do is go down to the beach and feed the birds, ” said Jane.
Jane’s Father & The ALS Association
Jane and Ann will be participating in the Walk to Defeat ALS this Sunday on “Wally’s Walkers” in honor of Jane’s father, Wally, who died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Wally wrote a few poems during his time on Coronado and can be found on eCoronado.com.
“I really learned how much you can give and how much your time meant to other people,” said Jane, “I always thought my work was enough but about 10 years ago I realized it is not just my work, that I am telling stories, that I needed to participate.”
When her father was diagnosed, Jane came home to help make his life as comfortable as possible and to be there for her mother.
Since what brought her back home to Coronado was her father’s illness, Jane has joined the brand new chapter of the ALS Association in San Diego.
“I never thought I would come back to San Diego to live here,” said Jane, “I always thought I would be on the east coast writing and reporting.”
“I loved San Diego, I loved Coronado and I loved being home but I didn’t know if I was going to be able to progress professionally,” said Jane.
Now Jane has progressed professionally and is thankful she could do so in a place where she can share it with her mother as well.
“This will always be my home base; this is perfect, this is our little piece of paradise,” said Jane.
Jane’s Thoughts on the Changing Media
“The one message I think I’d like to get out is: even though we have the technology it is how you use it and being responsible,” said Jane.
“The industry has changed really rapidly even in the last five years. It is just amazing. But that is the way of the world. You either adapt or get left behind.”
“I go back to when I was in college when MTV came out and everything was fast and in-your-face and I thought, you know, there will be a time when people will want to see good stories. It’s just not as big as it was. You can only be over-stimulated so much and then it is like– slow it down,” said Jane.
“Sometimes you just have to step back and turn on your big 50-inch HD TV and watch bugs in Africa or some heartfelt story. I think that storytelling is part of what makes us human and even though technology is so amazing, we can all appreciate stopping and listening. And if you don’t, I’m going to make you,” said Jane, laughing.
“You can never go wrong with a good story and it doesn’t have to be in a minute thirty or less.”
Ann has enjoyed hearing the stories Jane loves to tell. Ann has had a computer since 1992. She is an eCoronado.com member and enjoys using her laptop to stay updated. Did I mention she is 87?
“She uses it and it keeps her active, connected and interested in what is going on,” said Jane, “People who say you’re too old for that,’ no you are not. It keeps you young because you are current.”
Jane & Coronado
With all four children graduating from Coronado High School, which was extremely unusual for a Navy family, the Mitchells chose Coronado for their children because of the schools.
“We originally came to Coronado because of the schools, the schools were great,” said Ann.
To show her appreciation for the education she received while here, Jane volunteers for the Coronado Schools Foundation Telethon fundraiser every year.
“I try to stay connected, the school is important to me. Coronado High School was very good to me,” said Jane.
Jane left the island to pursue higher education and to advance professionally. After traveling all over, Jane can truly appreciate all that Coronado has to offer.
“When we would travel, I would tell about where we were from and if they knew of Coronado they knew it because of the Hotel Del,” said Jane.
“People would say, Oh my gosh you’re from Coronado and you’re living here. Why would you ever leave that place?'”
Proud of her hometown, Coronado, and her city, San Diego, she believes this is a place to share.
“I welcome the people from Arizona, it doesn’t bother me that it is crazy busy,” said Jane. “This beach and this ocean and these streets, this is for everyone to enjoy, and I think when people can respect that because it is a community not just a place to visit, then we all appreciate that.”
Jane can be contacted at: Hello@JaneMitchellOneOnOne.com
Jane is on Facebook at:http://www.facebook.com/oneononejane
Her book, One on One, can be purchased here or at Bay Books on Coronado.
Donate to the ALS Association in honor of Wally Mitchell by giving to Wally’s Walkers