Tanya O’Rourke Replacing Carol Williams On 11 p.m. News
After 29 years at WCPO-TV – most of them as main co-anchor – Carol Williams will leave the 11 p.m. anchor desk in January.
Williams, the longest-tenured 11 p.m. female news anchor in town, will work part-time in 2016, and retire in 2017, said Alex Bongiorno, Channel 9 news director, in a note to staffers late Friday.
The departure of Williams, hired in 1986, means that three-fourths of the main anchor team will change in less than three years, following the exits of sports anchor Dennis Janson (2013) and news anchor Clyde Gray (2014).
Staring Jan. 4, Williams will anchor at 5 and 6 p.m. with Craig McKee, who was hired last June to fill the vacancy from Gray’s retirement.
Tanya O’Rourke, who has anchored morning, noon and nights during her 23 years at the station, will co-anchor at 11 p.m. with McKee on Jan. 4. O’Rourke co-anchored the late news with Williams for nine months between Gray and McKee.
Williams was hired in 1986 from Lancaster, Pa., to co-anchor with Pat Minarcin. Then she was partnered with Gray, after he was hired away from WLWT-TV (Channel 5). The Clyde & Carol team was first in the 11 p.m. household ratings when she left the late news in 1997 to work days as her daughter started school, and was replaced by Stacey Case. When Williams returned in 2003 to the 11 p.m. with Gray, the newscast was in third place in the household ratings.
Coming to Cincinnati was not on William’s career map, she told me for a 2005 Enquirer story. However, she soon felt comfortable here and turned down job offers to work in bigger cities.
“I didn’t set out looking for a job in Cincinnati. But I considered myself lucky to have landed at a station and in a city that’s such a good fit for me. I’ve had some offers to go, but since my daughter Katherine was born in 1991, I haven’t wanted to move to another market, and haven’t tried to get another job. I like it here,” she said in 2005.
Her boss Bongiorno praised Williams saying:
“We have been fortunate enough to have an incredible talent like Carol Williams as our main co-anchor here at WCPO. She is not only a wonderful professional, but just as great person to boot.
“After 29 years, Carol is moving to part-time anchor role starting next month. Carol will continue to anchor 2 newscasts, but she is coming off the 11 p.m. In addition she has decided to retire January 2017. In the meantime, Carol will continue to turn quality stories that impact the Tri state and anchor key newscasts in the afternoon.
“Thankfully we will have plenty of time to celebrate her career and what she has meant to this team and to Cincinnati. Moving forward the lineup for our anchors will be as follows starting Jan. 4th:
Noon – Julie Dolan
4 p.m. Now – Julie Dolan, Tanya O’Rourke
5 p.m. – Craig McKee, Carol Williams
5:30 p.m. – Craig McKee, Tanya O’Rourke
6 p.m. – Craig McKee, Carol Williams
11 p.m. – Craig McKee, Tanya O’Rourke
Bongiorno did not mention the new 7 p.m. weekday news launched Sept. 14 with Dolan and meteorologist Steve Raleigh in her staff memo.