The burbs got Baquero! Recovering close to six million dollars for consumers since 2013, our very own Northern Westchester resident Lynda Baquero and her “Better Get Baquero” team have brought much relief to aggrieved consumers. The talented NBC4 NY consumer reporter, Baquero, along with her husband and two teenage daughters relocated from Manhattan, where Baquero was born and raised, to our neck of the woods in 2015.
Reporter as Empathetic Investigator
With an ambitious pledge on their website to answer every call or email, the “Better Get Baquero” team seeks to help consumers who feel they have exhausted all means to resolve a consumer issue. Living up to their promise, all complaints submitted by the public are vetted by their Consumer Investigative Center, who after a thorough review and allowing companies ample time to respond, attempts to mediate and resolve the issue at hand. Even when there is no resolution, Baquero strives to provide a takeaway for her audience of a lesson that can be learned from someone’s experience.
Oftentimes, “people just want to be heard,” says Baquero, and after spending time on the phone flushing out their story, they may decide they got something out of it and prefer not to go on television. Sometimes after talking to Baquero and her team, they may realize the law is not on their side and then they learn something.
Baquero feels lucky in her role as consumer advocate. “What I love about this is that it’s really an opportunity to be involved directly with the viewer, and do something positive, rather than just reporting on a situation,” she says.
She has even “saved a few lives and resurrected some people,” says Baquero. A woman needing oxygen equipment was having an issue with her health insurance and literally running out of oxygen until Baquero and her team stepped in and called the insurer. “I can’t even explain how that feels…it’s very gratifying,” says Baquero. As far as resurrections, they have had several cases in which the social security administration has mistakenly declared someone dead and they have assisted these people in proving them to be alive.
Now, in the age of Covid-19, Baquero has provided essential information to her viewers about navigating our “new normal.” In recent segments, she has tackled applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans, obtaining mortgage relief, common mistakes made in unemployment applications, budget management, procuring refunds for canceled travel, and frequently asked questions for families during this crisis. She has provided vital information needed now more than ever.
Although back in the office now, Baquero quickly adjusted to covering stories based from home when New York State shut down in mid-March. Donning masks, utilizing boom microphones, and conducting interviews outdoors along with her cameraman, Baquero continued to work throughout the pandemic reporting mainly from Westchester and Fairfield counties.
The segment airs every weekday at 4:45 pm and Baquero also reports the consumer news of the day during the next news hour.
Baquero also hosts the weekly series Visiones which highlights issues that affect the Hispanic community by presenting informational and inspirational conversations with community leaders and newsmakers on arts, education and health. Visiones airs on Saturdays on Weekend Today in New York at 6:45 am.
A Career Born in High School
Baquero began cultivating her passion for investigative journalism as a young 12-year-old high school freshman. After winning a school competition involving producing a short newscast, Baquero “got the bug” and was drawn in by the opportunity to meet interesting people and have unique experiences. At 14-years-old, she had her own public access cable television show that aired on Paragon Cable and Manhattan Cable, the two cable outlets in Manhattan at that time. She did this for four years with her father as her cameraman, editor, lighting and technical director. Later, while attending New York University, she worked at Channel 47, now part of Telemundo, where she wrote and co-produced various Spanish-language specials. She then went on to work as an associate producer at WCAU-TV, Philadephia. Subsequently, at WCBS-TV, she worked her way up in the newsroom to associate producer of the consumer action segment Troubleshooter. Afterwards, she worked at the local cable news network, NY1 News, as anchor, consumer reporter, and video journalist responsible for researching, writing, shooting and editing her own stories.
Baquero joined NBC4 from NY1 and has been with NBC4 in a variety of prominent positions. She has co-anchored NBC 4’s Weekend Today in New York, “News 4 New York at 6 P.M. with David Ushery and “NewsChannel 4 at 6 P.M. with Chuck Scarborough. She has also served as host of the nationally broadcast business program, Hispanics Today.
The recipient of two Emmy Awards, Baquero received one in 1998 for “Religious Programming” for her coverage of the Pope’s visit to Cuba, and another in 2006 for “Best Evening Newscast” with Chuck Scarborough.
Discussing her inspiration, Baquero says she always looked up to Barbara Walters, who was a “no-nonsense, strong woman who was able to accomplish so much professionally and balance everything in her life.”
Striking a Balance
Baquero has managed to deftly balance it all, achieving professional excellence while creating a beautiful family. Television reporters are notorious for keeping odd hours and Baquero is no exception.
“We’re a 24-hour business, 365 days a year. I work holidays, late nights, and I’ve worked weekends for fifteen years. Thank goodness my husband is patient, wonderful and supportive. I can’t get to every family function or school production, but I knew that going in so I manage as best I can and take it as it comes.”
As far as being present for her daughters, Baquero admits it is challenging and she has to pick and choose her battles. “There are times I fight to leave work early to attend an event and other times I tell my daughter ‘I’m sorry I can’t make that concert but I promise I will be at the next one.’” To compensate, she has dedicated special days to each daughter to make them feel extra special and takes a “girls trip” with them every year.
Baquero is an inspirational role model for her daughters, showing them a real life example of how hard work can make one’s dreams a reality. “I hope they understand that if they set their minds to a goal and work hard, they can have choices and really shoot for the moon. I hope they realize perhaps what women like myself have gone through and what we’ve been able to do and they can do that and much more.”
As for the glamour, “I explain to them that not everyone has hair and makeup in their office. I love that they’re nonplussed and they know this is mom’s job, her passion, her way of helping other people, and something she had to work really hard for. I hope also that seeing me on television accepting an Emmy and then in my pajamas at home without makeup eating popcorn teaches them that people they see on the screen or on social media are presenting their public persona, but they are real people too,” says Baquero.
Although a city girl at heart, Baquero has really embraced country living. She enjoys her large vegetable garden, frequents the farmers market, takes advantage of the hiking trails, and enrolls her daughters in horseback riding lessons.
When choosing the perfect locale in the suburbs, the Baqueros were drawn in by Northern Westchester’s top-notch schools, a major priority for them, the easy commute to the city, and the beauty and tranquility here.
“I’m so grateful we have the best of both worlds; the hustle and bustle of the city during the day and then we get to come home to this peaceful environment that still feels cosmopolitan with great restaurants and a very vibrant community.”
Baquero feels blessed to have ended up in this small community. As appreciative as she was with everyone’s warmth and neighborly reception when she first moved here, she truly felt the support of her neighbors throughout this Covid crisis. “Everyone reached out to see if we needed anything, if they could get us anything from the market, and just to check in on us.”
Baquero and her husband have made the best of the commute to the city. His interior design business, Richard A. Baquero Interior Design, is located close to her office. Driving together whenever they can, they use the time to catch up, make plans, and de-stress after a long day.
“He has been my biggest supporter, even with my crazy schedule. He is really my rock and we have fun together. People see us yapping at a restaurant and think ‘you’ve been together 29 years–what do you still have to talk about?’” laughs Baquero. “He’s my buddy.”
“We have been more grateful than ever for moving out here, even though we love and miss our city. We’ve been trying to do our part in helping the local restaurants through this pandemic by ordering out at least once a week and giving them some business. We were so happy to support our local hospital and frontline workers by donating to a meal train for the doctors. It feels really great to be part of such a small and caring community.”
Serving the greater community has always been important to Baquero. She serves on her local school board’s foundation and has also served on the Board of Directors of Let’s Get Ready, an educational non-profit. She has also worked with NBC and Telemundo on their Clear the Shelters pet adoption campaign, where they partner with shelters in the tri-state area to try and find forever homes for the pets. Close to home, she has reported live from Adopt-A-Dog in Armonk showing the available pets. This year, Clear the Shelters had a virtual campaign throughout the month of August to practice safe social distancing.
She has also worked with NBC on their annual Feeding Our Families community project, one of the largest multi-state food drives in the northeast that partners with food pantries and Stop and Shop supermarkets. Baquero has always made an appearance at the Stop and Shop in Mount Kisco to support this event. This year, food banks were particularly hit hard due to Covid, so NBC and Baquero’s efforts were crucial. To practice social distancing, the event was made into an online giving event, supporting nine tri-state food banks, including Feeding Westchester. Baquero promoted the event through social media.
Baquero is always “on the go.” Asked when she finally felt like “I’ve arrived,” she responds, “Never. Life is always about having the next goal or the next dream so I don’t take anything for granted. I’m grateful but I still think there’s more to do. I don’t know what’s ahead but I’m ready to take it on.”