A knowledgeable voice and familiar face beamed into Tampa Bay homes when Kathy Fountain delivered the 5 o’clock news and chatted with talk show guests on WTVT-Ch. 13. She created some news of her own as co-anchor of the first female team in the Tampa Bay area, "so radical at the time," she says.
But even as a rising star when hired at WTVT in May 1985, Fountain saw a bigger picture and planned accordingly.
"I knew in my 40s I needed to have another career after TV," she said. "I got my master’s degree in mental health counseling in 2000 and opened a practice on the side."
From personal experience, Fountain was drawn to clients struggling with infertility, eventually leaving the Fox network to open Kathy Fountain Fertility in 2010. The Lakeland native, who has a 28-year-old son, had trouble conceiving a second child.
"Many reproductive doctors require counseling prior to certain procedures such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) to make sure (patients) understand what they are getting into ethically, morally and psychologically," she said.
Three local reproductive clinics refer individuals and couples for help normalizing the experience of not conceiving a child naturally. Fountain works with LGBT couples and single moms by choice, gestational surrogates and attorneys.
"Today’s amazing medical advances, creating a child with someone else’s egg or sperm or embryo, are fraught with emotion," she said. "How does a surrogate explain to her own children why she is giving a baby away?"
Fountain started out as print journalist in Winter Haven and Fort Myers, then switched to television commercial production. A random request to stand in front of the camera for a minute landed her the job of hosting PM Magazine for five years.
"I was just lucky to be at the right place at the right time," she said. "That would never happen today." Fountain has been married to former WTVT news anchor Frank Robertson since 1995. He retired six months before she did and pursued voice-over and commercial acting.
Fountain has seen impressive results since creating the Mind Body Program for Infertility nine years ago after studying the connection between conception and stress management.
"Nationally, the pregnancy rate is 33 percent higher for couples who go through it," she said. "I’d say two-thirds of the women in my Tampa groups are on their way to becoming moms within a year. Some by pregnancy, some by surrogate and some adoption."
Fountain also cofacilitates the Tampa chapter of the national infertility support group Resolve.
Clients often send family photos or come back to visit and bring their babies.
"The television landscape has changed so much from the time I entered," she said. "The goal was to tell stories, educate, inform, thrill … make a difference. This does that for me."