Daryn Kagan's Soft Landing From the Hard-News World

Warm and fuzzy: The former CNN anchor's webcasts feature feel-good stories.
Warm and fuzzy: The former CNN anchor's webcasts feature feel-good stories. (Daryn Kagan)
By Libby Copeland
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 27, 2007

Daryn Kagan, the longtime news anchor who left CNN last fall when the network didn't renew her contract, has remade herself like a phoenix rising from the ashes. In this, she is much like Henry, the three-legged cat who "turned tragedy to triumph," and whose story she tells along with many others on her new Web site.

"Welcome to DarynKagan.com," Kagan says in one of her daily videocasts. She's wearing a cream-colored sweater and sitting in front of a cozy fire. "Today, we are dipping into the love bucket."

After years spent presiding over the world's tragedies, Kagan now brings news from over the rainbow, tapping America's love for hero dogs and spunky grannies. On television, these tales are usually shoved to the end of the newscast, but on DarynKagan.com (tagline: "Show the world what's possible!"), it's all dogs-'n'-grannies, all the time.

Plus, a nursing mom who sends her extra breast milk to Africa.

"From the moment Stella was born, breastfeeding came very easily to her mother," Kagan explains during that videocast. "Enough for Stella -- and then some."

Kagan brings us a mountain climber who's blind and a Wichita judge who's still hearing cases at age 99. ("You go, Judge Brown!" Kagan says. No word from the defendants.) She goes running with a man who has no legs. She brings in her kitty as a special guest star. She visits with a guy she calls the "love editor" who just happens to have his own Web site, where he sells men on the idea that they should pay him to figure out how they'll propose to their girlfriends.

Over the rainbow, small-business owners decide to give their stores away instead of selling them, and it is never to late to fall in love. Life is set to a soundtrack of swelling guitar music. It's a selective view of the world, to be sure, but is it any more selective than TV news?

(The greatest bias among newspeople is an -ism that has nothing to do with politics. It's cynicism and it's a source of pride for many. Kagan says that when word got around CNN that she was going to start a Web site focused exclusively on the warm and fuzzy, colleagues approached her to confess that they, too, dug those kinds of stories. It was almost like they were "coming out of the closet," she says.)

Kagan, 44, says that when she found out CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein wouldn't be renewing her contract after 12 years, she took it as a sign.

"Sitting in that office, it felt like someone else speaking through Jon Klein, just saying it was really time," Kagan says from her home in Atlanta, which also serves as her studio. For a few months, "I had my sad," she says, employing one of several unique phrasings her friends call D.A.K.-isms, for her initials. But she had always been "spiritual," and she came up with the idea of starting this Web site. She also decided to hold a nurturing weekend she calls "Soulspa," and that "helped me out of my sad."

Launched last November, DarynKagan.com is in between advertising sponsors and is not yet turning a profit. Kagan views this as "all part of the journey," and she's already visualizing her pot of gold. She plans to shop a book proposal soon and she thinks her message is a natural for radio, TV and cellphone content. She has a publicist and a part-time staff of six. She's been giving paid speeches about reinvention, a topic she has come to know well.

Kagan refers to her optimistic ethos as a form of spirituality, but takes pains to talk about it separately from her Jewish upbringing. She points out that her Web site is not affiliated with any religion.

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