Visitors stepping into Mike Jerrick's world on West Washington Square are apt to be dazzled. Jerrick's sleek, contemporary apartment, with its wall of living room windows, has built-in drama thanks to a jaw-dropping cityscape.
"I love the view and I love this city," says the man who helps Fox29 viewers wake up and face the day. From 7 to 10 a.m. on weekdays, Jerrick cohosts Good Day Philadelphia, with its potpourri of news, features, and political and sports talk.
"When I had the chance to come back to the station where I worked from 1999 to 2002, I jumped at it," says Jerrick, who adds that he is often welcomed back by friendly passers-by. "Now I know that you really can go home again."
In coming home last summer, one of the conditions Jerrick set for himself was a location where he could walk to work. No cars, no cabs. And his West Washington Square address allows for that convenience.
Since his arrival, Jerrick has been settling into his new digs, and doing it with style.
"I've lived in a lot of places," Jerrick said, "but this space is definitely appealing. It has what I need."
Originally, home was in Wichita, Kan., where Jerrick was number five in a lively family of six kids. "That probably explains why I always sought attention."
Enamored of radio as a youngster, Jerrick discovered that TV eclipsed that fascination after he studied communications at the University of Kansas. Before returning to Philadelphia, he had a long career in TV, including his most recent stint as cohost of The Morning Show With Mike and Juliet, which aired on Fox television stations around the country from a New York City base. There were also magazine format shows and a health and fitness program back in the 1980s.
Creating a home for himself is not a minor issue for Jerrick. He treasures home as a sanctuary, and because of his highly visible on-air life, he welcomes privacy.
He's found it in his city apartment, a place where order and neatness prevail. "I'm not compulsive, but my girlfriend is extremely neat!" insisted Jerrick.
At every turn in the apartment, there are examples of Jerrick's finely tuned design style, and of his passion for art.
"My late mother was an amateur artist, and she gave it all up when she had kids. I have some of her etchings, mostly with fashion themes, and while I didn't inherit her talent, I did get some of her art-appreciation genes."
So walls are not bare in the Jerrick apartment.
One of the most prominent pieces of wall art is a wonderful black and white portrait of his two daughters as children, and Jerrick loves to tell the story behind it. The children were shot by a well-known photographer who took a couple of hours with his young subjects, only to find out when the session ended that there had been no film in his camera. He quickly corrected his error, re-posed the girls, and shot the study of Jessica and Jill just before their patience gave out.
Those daughters are now in their 30s. "I suppose I should give that space to something else," said their long-divorced dad, "but I can't bear to do it."
Paintings by emerging and established artists play a dominant role in the rest of Jerrick's domestic world.
On one living room wall is an arresting abstract painting of what some may assume are dunes and beach grasses, but that the painting's owner insists also reminds him of certain Kansas landscapes.
A dramatic painting of a simple pear, enlivened by deep, rich colors, is a focal point of the apartment's dining area. Jerrick recently found a huge ceramic piece shaped like a pear at a Manayunk design store. "I think they were surprised that anyone wanted it," says Jerrick, who is considering having it painted to echo the colors in the pear canvas.
A sentimental favorite for Jerrick is the handsome painting of the exterior of his former house in Hoboken, N.J. Currently "hiding" on a kitchen wall, it needs relocating, Jerrick decided. "My old home deserves a better home in my new one."
For sheer drama, artist Andre Guichard's arresting abstract self-portrait, which stares out at the world in brilliant colors, is hard to top. In marked contrast is the foyer streetscape by artist Mark Campana, framed traditionally, and glowing with mellow colors.
But when it comes to color palettes, Mike Jerrick's taste is generally bold and definite. Greens the color of ripe Granny Smith apples dominate on upholstery, and this apartment dweller bravely mixes those greens with aquas and dashes of black. The same colors are carried into the bedroom, which is spare in its furnishings but enlivened by a bedspread in the green/aqua color spectrum.
Impossible to ignore in the bedroom is The Girl in the Red Dress, a work in acrylics. The young woman it portrays wears a Mona Lisa expression that the artist, Philadelphia's Susan McKee, suggests is a blend of ". . . exhaustion, exhilaration, maybe tears, maybe joy. . . ."
Overall, the contemporary touches - structural lamps, a hand-hammered, sculpted coffee table with a stainless steel apron and legs, a kitchen with bleached oak cabinetry and stainless steel hardware - coexist with retro, mid-20th-century-style sofas and chairs. Carefully chosen accessories find their place on tables, many of them echoing the greens and aquas of their surroundings.
The space perfectly suits a man with a large personality and pride of place.
Ironically, Jerrick doesn't see much morning light through his expansive windows. "My alarm goes off at 4:03 a.m., and there's not a lot of daylight at that hour."
His daily routine includes a 5 a.m. meeting at the station, then prep work until his three-hour on-air stint. By mid-afternoon, he's back at his apartment.
Blessed with the ability to take refreshing naps, Jerrick manages to sleep for several hours most afternoons in order to normalize his unusual life by salvaging some weekday evenings. "It's the only way to have a life, and to enjoy the city's restaurants and concerts," he said.
Jerrick is relishing it all - his second round with Fox 29, the city, and his art-filled urban apartment.
His next domestic project: to decide where to hang the large, handsome oil painting of rooftops, a recent acquisition.
"I try to make wherever I live feel like home, and art helps. My basic instinct tells me whether it's right," said Jerrick, "and I guess I'll just keep on collecting until I run out of walls."