Former anchor shares career journey


During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Patty Spitler decided to sort through some boxes of photos and memorabilia in the basement of her north Indianapolis home.

CNI COM 0322 Spitler 3
Patty Spitler, right, pauses with actor Dwayne Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Patty Spitler)

She found numerous photos with celebrities taken while she was an entertainment reporter and news anchor at WISH-TV in Indianapolis.

“There were all these pictures, me partying with Kevin Costner,” Spitler said. “I took some pictures of it and put (it) on Facebook and people said, ‘You should write a book.’”

Spitler’s longtime friend and assistant Rita Rose, a former Indianapolis Star entertainment reporter, offered to help her write an autobiography.

Spitler would tell her stories to Rose, who wrote them down. Then, Spitler would review them to make sure the writing sounded like her. “Patty Spitler: The Dog Who Saved My Life” was released in December 2021. 

CNI COM 0322 Spitler 2
“Patty Spitler: The Dog Who Saved My Life” was released in December 2021. (Photo courtesy of Patty Spitler)

Spitler has hosted and co-produced “Pet Pals TV” for 13 years and “Great Day TV with Patty Spitler” for six years. She had to quit her anchor job at WISH in December 2004 because of Meniere’s disease, an inner ear condition that affected her ability to hear clearly.

“When you are doing the news, you’ve got to hear it right,” she said. “Fatal fire sounds like flat tire, and that doesn’t work. You have to get it right the first time. You have to have two good ears. That’s the way it is.”

Spitler, 68, battled depression after leaving the job she loved. 

“I didn’t want to check out, but I wanted the pain to go away,” said Spitler, who was inducted into the Indiana Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2018.  “I lost everything. My parents are gone and I’m an only child. I have no children. I’m divorced.”

So, Spitler advises others to find something they love and build on it. It worked for her as a special dog helped guide her to the next stage of life. When she had to leave her WISH job, she decided she could have a dog. She had cats but couldn’t care properly for a dog because she traveled nearly every weekend to Hollywood or New York for celebrity interviews. She started to look for a collie, which her family had when she was young. While looking for collies, she came across a photo of a Bernese mountain dog.

“They’re big, goofy dogs who weigh 100 pounds or more,” Spitler said. “They’re very gentle.”

She named her dog Louie.

“When I would go to the dog park or walking, people would look at the dog and not look at me,” Spitler said. “It wasn’t ‘Patty, tell us your sad story.’ It was, ‘What’s your dog’s name?’ What I was doing, it’s called fate. I was preparing for the next stage of my life to do a pet show. I learned a lot. Back then, I didn’t know you shouldn’t buy a dog from a pet store. I learned about puppy mills. I learned about different breeds.”

After Louie died in 2014, she got another Bernese mountain dog in 2015. She also has another mixed breed and a rescue cat.

Meanwhile, “Pet Pals TV” has flourished. It is in 24 television markets. Her hearing is not an issue with the magazine format.

“I can ask the question again and I don’t have to hide it,” Spitler said. “Everyone knows I have Meniere’s disease. I have a hearing aid in one ear and cochlear (implant) in the other. That’s a huge relief that I don’t have to pretend that it’s all OK. I’m loving what I can volunteer to do now. I do not get paid for anything that I do. I have a pension from working 23 years (at WISH). I made an investment in a little bit of real estate, and I have my Medicare.

“I don’t go to Bloomingdale’s or anything fancy anymore. I don’t need it because I have dog and cat hair over everything.”

A portion of proceeds from Spitler’s book go to animal rescues and shelters. The book can be purchased by sending a check or money order for $25 to Rita Rose, P.O. Box 20056, Indianapolis, IN, 46220, or by visiting PayPal.Me/PattySpitlerBook. Spitler signs all books.