Fox News Reporter Chad Pergram Says: 'I Try To Provide Context'
When the impeachment trial ends, Fox News Channel congressional correspondent Chad Pergram finally can get back to normal covering news on Capitol Hill.
Whatever that is.
"It's been so atypical for so long, it's hard to gauge," says Pergram, a Butler County native and 1993 Miami University graduate.
"This place (Congress) is like the Hotel California: You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave… I kind of describe my job as: If they're in session, I'm in session."
Pergram has been known as a go-getter since he started his radio career – while still in Edgewood High School in Trenton – at a major Cincinnati station (WKRC-AM) in 1987.
"They thought I was in college," Pergram says.
He grew up in tiny Jacksonburg near the mansion of Jame M. Cox, the Dayton Daily News owner who served two terms as Ohio governor and was the Democratic Party candidate for U.S. president in 1920. He developed an interest in politics and news from listening to his grandfather's stories about Cox.
Also while in high school, he attended backroom lunches at Middletown's old Liberty Restaurant with politicians Bill Donham, John Boehner, Tony Valen and other prominent Butler County Republicans. While attending Miami University in Oxford, he lived down the street from Paul Ryan, who would succeed Ohio's John Boehner as U.S. House speaker in 2015.
As a kid, Pergram thought about being a sportswriter, or a sports broadcaster, or doing news. So while in Edgewood, he applied to WLW-AM, the station which broadcast Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall calling Reds games, and WKRC-AM, which had the Bengals.
"WLW never called me back, and WKRC-AM carried the Bengals," Pergram says. WKRC-AM offered him an unpaid internship, so he drove to the Mount Auburn studio (in the Channel 12 building) when Edgewood classes ended at 2:30 p.m. Eventually news director Richard Hunt put him on the air, and hired him to do overnight newscasts.
Former Channel 12 newsman Dick Coleman gave him some advice he still uses: "Unless the Carew Tower is burning down, you get in the studio 10 minutes before the newscast."
Pergram's preparedness and thoroughness helped him secure jobs at Miami's WMUB-FM (while attending grad school); C-SPAN; weekends at National Public Radio; and the Capitol News Connection radio service which provided reports to WVXU-FM, WMUB-FM and other stations from coast to coast.
In 2007, Fox News Channel hired him as a Capitol Hill producer. Eventually he was doing Fox News radio and TV reports, in addition to his producer duties, until his promotion last month.
What's the difference?
"I was setting up Congressional coverage, suggesting story ideas and doing lots of logistics, like strategizing where to stake out someone to get a comment, in addition to doing all this reporting anyway. I've been wearing two hats for a long time," Pergram says.
Covering Congress seldom is a 9-to-5 job. Before the impeachment inquiry began last fall, he'd be on the Hill from 10 a.m. till about 7. When hearings shifted into high gear in October, he sometimes arrived at 7:30 a.m. and stayed until midnight.
"It's definitely been exhausting. But regardless of your opinion on impeachment, you're very aware of this moment in history," Pergram says.
"It's interesting to see how this story has morphed. The House had Michael Cohen (testify) in February, and then came the Mueller report (in April). Then this went to another level with the Ukraine stuff" after revelations about a whistleblower in September, he says.
All while Pergram wore two hats. He was promoted on Jan. 14, and a week later was on the premiere of Fox News' Bill Hemmer Reports. Pergram first met the Delhi Township native and fellow Miami grad at a media football game on Fountain Square, when Hemmer was doing sports at WCPO-TV and Pergram worked at WKRC-AM.
"I was the first reporter out of the block for Bill Hemmer Reports. That was a real honor," he says.
Or it was a tribute to Pergram's reporting skills.
Every day he approaches the latest news "realizing the weight of the story, and asking myself how can I do it right and do it justice," he says. "I try to provide context. Context leads you to accuracy most of the time. I explain arcane rules. 'Why did Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell do that?' If you explain the mechanics of it, people can say, 'Oh, now I understand.' "