August 2005:

Meredith Hoenes, Kansas City's City League Champion

Have you turned on television news first thing in the morning, and wonder how the women can look so great so early? For one thing, they probably woke up well before you did. But it isn't always a matter of having skilled stylists in the wings, preparing hair to be on-air.

MEREDITH HOENES knows this very well. Her TV station in Kansas City begins its morning news at 4:00 a.m. (For farmers and late-night partiers, we're guessing.) Yet she's become used to rising early and looking sharp -- doing it so well that she won the City League competition for her city. On a recent road trip, we were honored to meet Meredith in person at her TV station. She posed for pictures, and talked at length about her locks:

SUPER-HAIR: First of all, congratulations.... You're a champion of Kansas City....

MEREDITH HOENES: Thank you very much.

S-H: Are you surprised by that? Or what did you think of that?

MH: I hate my hair - I mean, well, I shouldn't say that. I've always struggled with my hair. I've never thought I had nice hair. I always looked at other people and thought, "Well, why can't my hair look like hers?" or "Why can't my hair look like that? Or why doesn't my hair do that?" So for somebody, maybe a few people out there to think that about me - it's very flattering.

S-H: It's like that Dove ad, you know.... the day you stop looking for it, you find it?! (Laughs)

MH: Yeah, yeah. So it was a lot of fun. It's kind of nice to feel like you're doing something right.... My hair has a mind of its own. So.... (laughs)

S-H: How do you mean that? That your hair has a mind of its own?

MH: You could want to straighten it, and it'll curl.... if it wants to. If you want it to go curly, it may just decide not to do that. If you think you want to part it in this area -- oh no, it's going to have its own part. So I've learned whatever it wants to do that day, I work with that -- and I guess it's coming up OK.

S-H: Are you naturally straight, or naturally wavy?

MH: I have a very small wave. Like many people with fine hair have automatically straight hair when it's wet - mine will have a soft wave. If I don't blow-dry it, it'll have - it has body to it, but it's not curly; not naturally curly at all. And it really will hold curl very well. I don't have to use hairspray on it. So I think its tendency is probably to wave just a little bit.

S-H: You sound like you try different things with your hair....

MH: I do. That's one of the reasons why I've kept it long for awhile. I used to have really short hair, and you're really limited on what you can do with short hair. When it's long, you have options. So I enjoy doing different things. Sometimes I like to have it curly, sometimes I like to have it straight, and sometimes it goes straight to a ponytail.

S-H: How would you describe the style you have right now - these days?

MH: Some of my crew jokes that it's a 70's style, because for some reason it likes to kind of feather every now and then.

S-H: That could be coming back, though. I've seen signs of that....

MH: It might be.... I don't have, I guess, the hair lingo. It's longer hair; it's got a small wave to it.... Today, it reminds me of Eva Mendes in a commercial; a Revlon commercial - so it reminds me of her hair. So maybe glamorous today, for some reason.

S-H: How long have you had your hair like that?

MH: I started growing it probably about two years ago. But I have tried to maintain the length, and really started focusing on - if I'm going to keep my long hair, I want to make sure it's healthy. So even though I started really growing it long and carrying it long, I'd say within the past year, it's longer now than I think it's ever been.

S-H: What do you like about it? You kind of hinted at some of that - what you like about going longer....

MH: Really and truly, I think it gives me variety.... I think it's easy to take care of. I can let it air dry, and if I really want to go out that night, I can throw a curling iron on it or flatten it, and I don't have to do any major preparation for it.

I think some people might look at long hair as high-maintenance. But for me, it's actually low-maintenance. I don't think it takes long to - I can throw my hair back in a ponytail and it still looks kind of classic, still looks kind of nice. And so I think you can pull off a lot of things with long hair.

S-H: Sure. Anything you dislike about it?

MH: About long hair? From time to time it gets in your eyes, or from time to time it's really hot out and you don't necessarily want the ponytail, or it's frizzing because it's humid, so bad - and with short locks, I think you could control the environmental blenders a little bit better than with longer hair....

S-H: We first noticed you when you were in Corpus Christi [Texas, left]....

MH: That's amazing!

S-H: On a trip down there, and saw you on TV.... That's a different sort of element completely, Corpus Christi, in terms....

MH: Just the humid.... (laughs) the bowl of humidity.

S-H: That had to be more difficult to keep your hair in shape, than it would be in here.

MH: Oh, my hair dried out really bad. I really struggled.... I spent two years down there, and the first eight or nine months, my hair held up fine. But as it starts to grow out - and I didn't have the best hairdresser, I don't think, to really keep my hair in the healthiest form. So I struggled when I got back to Missouri -- I cut a big chunk of my hair off, just because for me it seemed unhealthy, because it dried out so easy down there.

S-H: How long did you cut it?

MH: My hair was probably a little past my shoulders, and I cut at least, I'd say, two-and-a-half, three inches off of it.... It's still very long. It's at -- up on top of my shoulders, but it was still a good chunk to disappear.

S-H: Now you're up at 4:00 in the morning?!

MH: Actually, I get up at 3:00, and I'm at work at 4:00.... When I anchor, you have to be here at 2:30, so you get up at around 1:30 in the morning.

S-H: What do you do to prepare to be on the air at 4:00 in the morning?

MH: I'm telling you, I'm so low-maintenance. I am SO low-maintenance. There are people who will probably cringe when I - I get up in the morning, I get in the shower, wash my hair. I dry it, I put a little mousse in it - not even a lot; I don't even like a lot - and then I use velcro rollers. And I put my velcro rollers in about 30 minutes before I'm going to want to take them out and do my hair. And I get body, I get lift, I get style. I run my fingers through it, put a little hairspray on, and I'm done.

S-H: Looks great....

MH: So that's why I say some people would probably, they'd cringe if they knew I really didn't do.... (laughs)

S-H: If people ran their fingers through your hair, what would they feel?

MH: Right now? Full of hairspray, because of work.

S-H: Do you have a favorite hairspray, a favorite mousse that you use?

MH: My favorite products are Rusk. My hairdresser is Rusk. He's a Rusk hairdresser....

S-H: What's his name? We can give him a free plug.

MH: You know what? I'm not sure what his last name is. He's Ray at Yummy; he's in Columbia, Missouri. It's his own little studio. And in fact, I found him when I was in college - when I was at Channel 8 in Columbia.

I needed something done with my hair. I mean, I just needed to find a hairdresser that I liked. And one girl walked in and I thought, "Your hair looks do good. Who do you go to?" And she said, "Ray at Yummy." And then the next girl walks in - we're talking five minutes apart, and I go, "Who does your hair? Your hair looks really good." And she goes, "Ray at Yummy." And I said: that's it.... I'm going.

And I have now both of my sisters - before my sister moved to Florida, she went to Ray; my other sister, who lives an hour-and-a-half from Columbia; she drives there. I drive from Kansas City to Columbia to go to Ray....

S-H: You still do?

MH: All three of my cousins go to Ray. The TV station in Columbia -- people who need something done with their hair, they recommend that they go to Ray. I send everybody that I possibly know to go see this guy.

S-H: How often do you go see him? It's a two-hour drive....

MH: I usually try to go - well, when I colored my hair was when it was time to go and get a touch-up. But I've really wanted to go back to my natural color. I missed my darker hair. I'd really started to lighten it up so much that it was easy just to go in and lighten it one more step and lighten it one more step - and there was a time when I was almost blonde.

S-H: I read online somewhere that you put something purple in it. Or it looked that way....

MH: Yes, unfortunately. (laughs) The first time I went dark with my hair, I guess the base that he used to go back to my natural color was a purple-toned base - and the lights pick it up. And so we did a little bit better when I went back the second time, because I've only had my hair darkened twice now since I've been here. When I went back the second time, I told him the problem, so we did kind of a little different.... it's much smaller of a purple tone. But it's one of those things in television, and he works really well He knows what my job is, so it's easy to go back and say, "Ray, I looked purple!" (laughs)....

But Ray does such a - he has fabulous cuts, and he cuts my hair.... Anybody who wants short hair, he is fabulous with short cuts. And they're edgy, and they're fun, but you don't have to be 20-something; you don't have to be 17. You can be a 50-year-old woman, and you can go in and get a cut from him, and he'll drop the way you look by 10 or 15 years.

S-H: You're not 50? I can't believe you're... (laughs)

MH: Oh no, I'm not even 30 -- he's just a fabulous hairdresser. He listens to what you need and what you want. He's got his quirkiness, but I'll take any quirkiness for a great haircut.

But Rusk products -- go back to that answer. Rusk are the products that I like. I use Rusk mousse, and.... I love Rusk Weightless hairspray. And then to keep the color, there's what they call Pure. I use that. And they have a calming conditioner.... that's really helped relax my hair and make it more manageable....

S-H: Are you in the studio all day, doing what you do? I guess you're on two different stations, right?

MH: Yes. I hit the studio around 5:00, I'm in and out of the studio between 7:00 and 9:00 - from 5:00 to 7:00 we have a show.... and then from about 9:00 to about 9:40-ish I'm recording for my second sort of job.... for the second TV station. So roughly from about 5:00 in the morning to sometimes almost 10:00, I can be in the studio -- so for five hours.

S-H: Do the TV lights make a difference?

MH: I think sometimes the problem with the studio is they can do the temperature battle with it. Sometimes you go in there and it's freezing. Sometimes you go in there and it's kind of steamy and humid and hot.... Even that, it probably has no major play on it.. Sometimes I wonder if the lights - just because I'm can't imagine those lights are even good for my skin tone sometimes. They're just so bright, harsh. So I wonder, but I don't know.

S-H: When was the last time your hair collapsed in your face in public? Or does it do that?

MH: I'm a tuck-behind-the-ears kind of girl. So....

S-H: You put it there and it stays there?

MH: Yeah. I mean, it's usually OK. I don't think I've really had any embarrassing moments with the hair, in television. I think the hardest thing was in Corpus, when the hurricanes hit, when Claudette hit. Those are times when your hair's out the window. There's no controlling it. But with longer hair, a cut that doesn't hold necessarily in a ponytail real good, you're constantly battling to get it out of your face. So in Corpus, the winds were probably my worst enemy.

S-H: Did you win, against the wind in Corpus Christi? Were you able to keep it out of your face?

MH: It'd probably be a 50-50 (laughs) - probably battling .500.

S-H: What advice would you give someone who wants to have great hair - wants to be a champion?

MH: I would really say, care about the products you use.... and find a hairdresser you trust. If you're somebody who's constantly leaving the hairdresser complaining about him or her, find somewhere else to go. Period. If you're not comfortable - and it doesn't matter. If it takes you going to four or five different places, then you go to four or five different places. If you feel bad that this is your best friends' favorite hairdresser, well maybe they just don't know your hair or work with your hair as well. Don't feel bad for doing that.

And the other thing I'd say -- if your haircut looks lopsided, if you feel like the hairdresser's not using the right dye or it's the wrong color, speak up. Most of them are more than happy to fix it. They want you to be a happy customer. You are their walking advertisement. I think too many times, people will walk out of a salon unhappy when what they're unhappy with is fixable. So my recommendation is, don't be afraid to say something - and if you feel like you said something and the relationship is ruined, then you find another hairdresser. And if you have a good relationship with that hairdresser, they're not going to mind.

I told my hairdresser, "Ray, my right side is bugging me. It just feels so much longer." And he'll kind of give me a little bit of a hard time. But then when he looks at it -- "OK, you're off a little bit." He's very appreciative that I say something, because it's like he tells me: "Your head of hair is my work. If you look bad, I look bad."

So I would say, really go to find the relationship with the hairdresser, would be the most important -- you have that good relationship, you're gonna get the truth about products. You're gonna get truth about what haircut probably would really look better on you, or some fun advice about some color add-ins or touch-ups. And if you have that good relationship, you might be willing to try something that in the end really does stand out, makes you look better, makes you feel better.

S-H: We like to ask women who they consider to have the best head of hair out there, the best head of hair you've seen.

MH: I hate to go Hollywood, because I think that they have just so many tools at their disposal that it's not fair to pick them -- but I might just have to. I mean, Julia Roberts. I've always liked Julia Roberts's hair.

S-H: Straight or curly?

MH: I like it curly.

S-H: She goes both ways....

MH: Yeah. Now the person that I've always felt had a fun haircut, I've always loved Meg Ryan's haircuts.... I think that they're so fun and playful. I tried one; it wasn't for me. But I think Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts.

SUMMARY: We left considering Meredith Hoenes a lot of fun. Apparently so do others in Kansas City, who have praised her online for her "cuteness" among other things. She may not know "the lingo" about hair, but she knows a lot about how to keep it looking great - and how to find the right set of helping hands which can make it Super-Hair.

Meredith tells us she's happy living in Kansas City, but we have this feeling even bigger things are in line for her. (For instance, after we posted this interview she was named co-host of a new mid-morning talk show on her station!) We're rooting for her -- and if you're ever in her part of the country, don't sleep in or you'll miss an outstanding style.


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