5 things to know about Susan Raff, WFSB Chief Political Reporter

Photo of Abby Weiss
WFSB political reporter Susan Raff hosts her weekly "Real Talk with Raff" podcast. 

WFSB political reporter Susan Raff hosts her weekly "Real Talk with Raff" podcast. 

Susan Raff/Contributed photo

On Tuesday, WFSB Chief Political reporter Susan Raff spent the afternoon pursuing a story about political attack ads in Connecticut. After covering four Connecticut gubernatorial terms, Raff is bringing her Channel 3 mic all over the state this fall to report on the upcoming November election — and explain another piece of the state's history to WFSB viewers. 

In her 26 years at the TV station, Raff has covered the Sandy Hook tragedy from Newtown, abortion-rights rallies following the 2022 turning of Roe V. Wade and essential worker relief programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was at the State Capitol when Connecticut abolished the death penalty, legalized medical marijuana and passed the gun control bill known as Ethan’s Law

“No two days are alike. I don't think I could sit in an office and look at a screen all day. I just don't think I could do it,” she said. “I meet really interesting people. I learned something new every day. And I love telling stories. I think that’s what keeps me going.”

She currently hosts the podcast “Real Talk with Raff” and has interviewed people like Nicole Hockley, founder of Sandy Hook Promise, and gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski.

Raff received a master's degree in mass communications at Emerson College. Her career began 10 minutes from the Canadian border in Presque Isle, Maine, and she wrote for Channel Four and Channel Five in Boston before moving to Connecticut almost 30 years ago.

“I would never look back and feel like I chose the wrong career ever,” she said.

Here are five things to know about Raff:

1. Her father Len Raff worked at CBS New York for 52 years

Len Raff joined CBS in the 1940s and was one of the first Americans to travel with President Nixon to China.

“He was a pioneer. He was an editor at a time when the evening news at CBS was only 15 minutes,” Raff said.

She traveled with her father to Japan after Emperor Hirohito died in the 1980s and was a producer for CBS. Her exposure to the news industry at a young age ignited her childhood interest in becoming a reporter, she said.

WFSB reporter Susan Raff's father, Len, was an editor for CBS Evening News in New York.

WFSB reporter Susan Raff's father, Len, was an editor for CBS Evening News in New York.

Susan Raff/Contributed photo

2. She’s a breastfeeding advocate

Raff has testified in front of the Connecticut legislature twice to help pass laws protecting women who want to continue breastfeeding when they return to work.

Her advocacy stems from the stigma and challenges she faced as a new mother working at Channel 3. She would pump in the back of a news car and received disapproval from the news director at the time, who was a woman.

“I remember the state of Connecticut had these big banners up that said, ‘Breast is best.’ And I thought, ‘Well, how could that be? How could the state be encouraging this?’” she said. “I would see people go outside who were allowed to take cigarette breaks every 20 minutes. But I couldn't get one 20-minute break to pump.”

Raff served as an honorary chair for Breastfeeding Awareness Month at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and worked with the general manager of Channel 3’s new building to ensure the office included a lactation room.

She believes women should have the freedom to choose to continue breastfeeding and she’s happy the state currently has laws to protect that freedom for mothers in the workplace.

3. She has covered four Connecticut governors

In her political reporting career, Raff has reported at the Capitol during the terms of John Rowland, Jodi Rell, Dannel Malloy and Ned Lamont.

She changed from a general assignment reporter for WFSB to a political reporter in the early 2000s while Rowland was under investigation for political corruption charges. Raff was intimidated to assume the role during a contentious time for state politics, but former congressman and Waterbury mayor Michael Jarjura helped her understand the inner workings of the capital.

“That's when I really started to create my political career at a very significant time in Connecticut history,” she said.

In October, Raff will serve as a panelist for a 2nd Congressional District debate in New London. She’s interested to see results for this year's legislature elections since there are many open seats in Congress.

WFSB reporter Susan Raff learns about hemp at the University of Connecticut. 

WFSB reporter Susan Raff learns about hemp at the University of Connecticut. 

Susan Raff/Contributed photo

4. She’s covered Sandy Hook tragedy extensively

That day in Connecticut history was supposed to be Raff’s Day off. But the second she saw the TV at the gym, she rushed to Newtown.

“I couldn't believe it. I think all of us were in shock. My daughter was in fifth grade at the time. And I remember calling her at the school trying, you know, just getting a message to her.”

She spent a substantial amount of time near the school and remembers when Governor Malloy broke the news to the parents. Over the past decade, she’s done several stories in collaboration with Sandy Hook Promise founders Nicole Hockley and Mark Barden about the organization’s initiatives and their lawsuits against gun companies.

Raff said those tough stories have helped her understand how to balance compassion with good reporting.

“You have to realize you're injecting yourself into people's lives at probably the worst time ever,” she said. “You have to be sensitive to that. And you have to be understanding of that. You have to be a human being, and at the same time, you have a job to do. It’s a delicate balance.”

5. She’s had a long political reporting career. But her most memorable sources are not politicians

While she’s interviewed countless politicians, including current U.S. President Joe Biden, Raff idolizes the community members.

One memory that sticks out is when a Griffin Hospital nurse hugged and thanked her while she was reporting from New Haven. Raff couldn’t understand what for.

She said covering local communities is when she sees people making others' lives better in tough circumstances, such as nurses who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic or teachers who run after-school programs.

“That’s what keeps me going,” she said. “That's why I never get jaded or when I get upset about certain things, I remember that.”