Calabasas residents know Laura Nickerson as the effervescent host of Calabasas TV’s popular The Buzz, but what many don’t realize is that she has an impressive pedigree as a trained thespian. After attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Pasadena with a short stint at Oxford’s prestigious Shakespeare company, Nickerson spent 15 years acting in films, television and musical theater, including guest roles on TV’s Frasier and in a national tour of Grease.
So when she was asked to host a show for Universal Studios, she panicked. “I didn’t know a thing about hosting,” she said. “I thought, ‘I’m terrible at this. I don’t know how to be myself. Give me something to say.'” But through trial by fire, Nickerson perfected her hosting skills and went on to moderate a web show for DanceChannelTV.
Nickerson next created her own radio talk show in 2008 because she felt there weren’t enough women on talk radio. “I decided to do a little pilot, a little talk show like The View with a few girlfriends to see how it went,” she recalled. Sitting in her husband’s office, she used a boom mike and interviewed her friends. Two weeks later, Broad Topics was picked up by LA Talk Radio as their flagship show. From there, the show made the move to a syndicated TV show in Santa Monica, which was later picked up by Calabasas TV (CTV). It was there she met Deborah Stellar, the city’s media operations officer, who eventually hired her to host The Buzz, described as a “short, weekly program, with information of upcoming events, and fun, family things to do in-and-around the City of Calabasas.”
Stellar said Nickerson is a natural in the role. “There are a lot of people in ‘the business’ in Calabasas, and I get a lot of feedback from people who realize that her effortlessness on screen comes from years of training on stage and television sets,” she said. “Our CTV crew loves working with her because she’s always up for trying new ideas and can hit her lines every time while crawling through the mud, working next to rescued sea lions or anchoring live election night returns.”
Nickerson spends hours each week going through letters from the community as well as local calendars in researching the shows, which she writes, with occasional guidance from city officials. And she’s covered everything from the Pumpkin Festival to last week’s The Event.
“Everyone is just so nice and supportive,” Nickerson said of the community. “We always have a blast shooting the show.”
The Buzz is so popular, in fact, it has been nominated for a second year for a Star Award for best magazine format program. The award show is run through Scan Natoa, a non-profit organization that recognizes regional and government telecommunications. The ceremony takes place Wednesday at the Loew’s Hotel Santa Monica.
Stellar says Nickerson’s passion for Calabasas is evident in each broadcast. “The Buzz has been a huge success in Calabasas, largely due to Laura’s personality,” she said. “Along with a great delivery, writing style and fantastic sense of humor, she has a spot-on sense of timing and a feel for this community … she eats here, shops here, goes to the local events, knows the City Council and city staff and is really able to connect with people.”
“People always come up to me and ask me what to do for the weekend,” she said. So, Nickerson, the mother of two boys–ages 5 and 7–also writes a weekly family events blog and radio show–BuzzLA.
“I don’t want my kids to sit around all weekend with their iPad,” she said. “I want them to get out and for us to be together. At the same time, I don’t want to drive too far or spend a lot of money, so I try to find events and activities that are relatively close. My territory generally spans from Burbank to Santa Barbara.”