Written By: Robert Cocuzzo | Photography By: Kit Noble
Fox 25 morning news anchor Sara Underwood and 98.5 sports hub radio host Michael Felger share their life off the air on the island.
This Daffodil Weekend, keep an eye out for a cherry red 1975 Volkswagen “Thing” rolling around ‘Sconset as one of the newest additions to the annual antique car parade. Riding inside will be none other than media power couple and Nantucket summer residents Sara Underwood and Michael Felger along with their daughters Emma and Tessa. “Rain or shine, we do not miss the Daffodil Festival,” says Underwood. “It’s one of those events where you can’t wipe the smile off your face. Between the car decorations, the costumes and the doggie tutus… everything is just so yellow and happy.”
As morning anchor of Fox 25 News in Boston, Underwood rises at 2 am every weekday to report to her post alongside co-anchor Gene Lavanchy. Meanwhile, Felger is out the door at 2 pm to co-host his number-one rated sports radio show, Felger and Massarotti on 98.5 the Sports Hub. Like two ships passing in the night, Underwood and Felger have made Nantucket their homeport every summer for nearly ten years.
The couple met on a television set in 2000 and were married two years later. “I had never been to Nantucket,” Underwood says. “Soon after I met Michael, he brought me there for my first weekend ever on Straight Wharf.” Interestingly enough, despite having never visited the island, Underwood discovered that she was a distant relative of Tristin Coffin, one of the earliest Nantucket settlers. “According to our family tree, Tristin was in my Grandpa Underwood’s mother’s side of the family,” she explains. “There must be a better translation, but I’ve always loved that little family tidbit.”
“I started coming to Nantucket after college in the nineties,” says Felger, who originally hales from Milwaukee. “When the economy tanked and all the prices dropped, I could afford something… a little piece of the rock.” Now their daughters spend the entire summer on Nantucket, attending Strong Wings, Murray Camp, and Nantucket Community Sailing School, while their mom and dad commute back and forth from Boston. “Once we get off the boat on Nantucket, we can just breathe and we feel so relaxed,” says Underwood. “We really pinch ourselves everyday when we’re there.”
Originally from Palo Alto and formerly the anchor on CBS 4 in Boston, Underwood landed in her morning anchor seat at Fox 25 four years ago this April amidst troubling times for the city. “I was just freelancing for Fox 25 when the Boston Marathon Bombing happened,” she says. “Our main anchor at the time was on vacation, so I was put in a position where I was on the air ten hours a day covering every single detail.” She’s commanded the morning news ever since, most recently guiding viewers in Massachusetts through the opioid crisis, marijuana legalization and the tumultuous presidential election. “And, of course, weather is always a huge story,” she adds.
This off-season was equally busy for Felger who covered the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl run on his hit drive-time radio show “Felger and Mazz” and as the host of Comcast SportsNet’s “Sports Night” and “Sports Sunday.” Formerly a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, what makes Felger such an outlier in Boston’s sports media scene is his commitment to calling it like he sees it and not fawning over the teams. “People think we’re too negative,” he says. “We want to be critical when it’s time to be critical. And we want to challenge the teams when it’s time to challenge the teams.”
Most notably, Felger caught flack for challenging the Patriots over Deflategate, which earned him an earful from the Pats faithful over that past year and a half. That being said, when it comes to Nantucket, Felger is not shy about voicing where his allegiances lie. Half kiddingly, he considers New Yorkers as the greatest threat to the island. “New Yorkers, you have your own places,” he says. “I like it best when it’s a Boston island.”
On a more serious note, Felger and Underwood point to the future sustainability of local businesses as one of their main concerns for the island. “At the end of the day, what makes Nantucket the best is the local families and the local businesses,” Felger says. “I’m still sort of an outsider. I’ve been going there a longtime and have a house there, but I come in and I come out. It’s the people there year-round who are the island. Those businesses getting phased out, those people getting bought out, those people not being able to afford to live there — that’s a huge issue.”
Come summertime, Underwood and Felger and their daughters can most readily be found on Lady’s Beach, enjoying lunch from Bartlett’s Farm and the quiet reprieve from their busy lives back in Boston. “When I think of Nantucket, I think of that scene,” says Underwood. “We feel so incredibly lucky. Nantucket is truly our happy place.”