She will succeed Stacey Bell on the 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts. McCool told me she takes the anchor chair on Jan. 2; she called the promotion "awesome." Full story for tomorrow's Beacon Journal.
No word on what will happen on the station's morning show, although Kristi Capel may add it to her duties. After the jump is an interview I did with McCool back in '05, covering her journey to WJW, away from it and back again.
Tracy McCool's career has come full circle. And that's just the direction she wanted it to take.
The Copley Township native, now co-anchoring the morning news on WJW (Channel 8), started her TV career there as a news intern and as a morning-show producer in the early '90s.
She had come upon TV news while a student at Kent State.
"I was a junior, and I had no idea what to do with my life," she said. "My dad (Jerry, vice president of sales for First Call Express) just told me, 'Stay away from anything with math.' "
A speech class started her interest in performing in public, she said. No one else in her family -- mother Pam, brother Scott and sister Kelly -- had been in show business. And dance lessons when she was young had given way to softball and track and being a cheerleader.
But after the speech class, she checked out the TV operation at Kent State.
"The day I walked in, I thought, this is it. This is what I wanted to do," she said.
That led to the internship at Channel 8, where "you're finally meeting the people you've grown up watching. I was star-struck seeing Wilma Smith, Tim Taylor and Dick Goddard in person."
She could have stayed there as a producer, but had on-air dreams and decided she would have to prove herself somewhere else first.
"When I left Fox 8 . . . I told them I would be back in four years," she said. "I took a huge pay cut and went to Erie, Pa. (in 1996) . . . Then I went to Columbus."
And by 2000, she was back at Channel 8, working as a general assignment reporter, including from the station's Summit Mall bureau.
Her move into mornings began when John O'Day retired as morning anchor. When Kathy Kronenberger was taken off the early show, McCool took the chair next to Wayne Dawson as an interim choice, then was officially given the job this month.
Those months when she was doing the job without actually having the job "were nerve-racking," she said. "I did wonder, what happens if I don't get the job? But if I had to fall back to my old position, I would have been perfectly fine with that."
Besides, she said, while she was waiting for a decision, "you've just got to go in and give 110 percent."
You also have to give it on "a four-hour show, and it can be very unpredictable," McCool said.
And early. When we talked last week, she was feeling cheery because she had been able to sleep in an extra two hours -- until 4 a.m.
"Mostly I get up at 2 o'clock," she said. "I go to sleep at 6:30."
Since the morning show includes chatting about TV shows like American Idol -- which also airs on Channel 8 -- McCool said she has a DVR.
"But, the first week I used it, it recorded without sound!" she added with a laugh.