Born-and-bred Charlestown resident Kathy Giordano is likely one of the nicest individuals you will ever meet.
Many know Giordano as the co-host of Boston Neighborhood Network’s (BNN) Charlestown Live. Others may know her from her founding and leadership of the Charlestown Women’s Club, her former community relations work at the Boston Elderly Commission, or her 14 years as a reporter and photographer for the very publication you are reading.
Giordano’s is a friendly face around town, which I quickly learned during our recent interview at Zume’s Coffee House. Several people waved hello or stopped to chat with her, with Giordano graciously introducing me each time. She spoke of the many hats she wears or has worn with fondness and enthusiasm.
Since retiring from the Elderly Commission, Giordano has been focusing her time and energy on Charlestown Live and the women’s club, both of which she started based on needs she saw in the community.
“Five years ago, I was watching TV, and there were these nice shows for different neighborhoods” in Boston, said Giordano. “And I thought, ‘Boy, we should have something like this to promote Charlestown.’”
Giordano approached her friend and fellow Charlestown resident, the beloved late Peter Looney, to start a show about all things Charlestown with her. She said Looney was apprehensive at first but agreed to do the show as long as Giordano joined him.
“It gave us an opportunity to present to the city of Boston what Charlestown was like,” said Giordano. “We modeled it after Channel 5’s ‘Chronicle.’ We had local people on talking about what they were doing, from young people to seniors.”
Giordano and Looney co-hosted the show together for its first two years. Then it became too much work for Giordano, who was also working full-time, and Looney took over the show completely until he became ill earlier this year.
“Peter asked me to step in until he got better,” said the soft-spoken Giordano. “So I filled in and kept telling him, ‘I’m keeping your seat warm for you.’ But that was not God’s will.”
Giordano and the community’s dear friend passed away in August of this year. She was determined to keep Charlestown Live going in Looney’s honor, but she realized she needed help. Giordano found three rotating co-hosts for the show: Dan Ryan, Al Carrier and Diane Grant, each of whom will bring their own twist and expertise to the show, Giordano said.
Giordano’s list of Charlestown Live guests is extensive and varied. Mayor Menino and Congressman Michael Capuano have both appeared on the show. Earlier in the fall, Giordano chatted with all seven city councilor-at-large candidates on air.
Her favorite memories of the live call-in show, which airs from 6:30 to 7 p.m. every Thursday on BNN, are her Christmas episodes with Looney.
“Every Christmastime, Peter and I would do a remembrance show about Christmases past in Charlestown,” she said. “We would ask, ‘Where is your favorite lot to get Christmas trees?’ and then list those places. We’d research popular children’s toys from the 1950s and 1960s. We’d talk about the songs we were familiar with then and the places to shop for gifts. And since we all went to parochial school growing up, we’d ask people what they bought the nuns for gifts back then,” said Giordano, smiling.
Getting people to think about their own memories is what made the show a success to her, Giordano said. Her future hopes for the show include taking the camera out of BNN’s studio and into restaurants and local businesses in Charlestown, so that viewers in the neighborhood and Boston will learn even more about what’s going on.
Giordano is similarly proud of the Charlestown Women’s Club, which boasts an impressive 182 members. The club has a guest speaker at every monthly meeting and collects donations for a different cause every month. Last month’s donations went toward Halloween candy for the Boys and Girls Club, and this month’s went to providing turkeys for Harvest on Vine’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner Drive.
Next month, the women’s club will be supporting Christmas for Kids, a charity started by Peter Looney that provides winter coats, hats and gloves to local children.
“Last year, we raised $1,000 for the charity, which Peter got to see,” Giordano said. “His name is carrying on.”
Giordano doesn’t see herself ever leaving Charlestown. “I have a love for the community,” she said. “People genuinely care about you here.” She has two children, who both grew up in Charlestown and now live in South Boston and Canton.