When I asked Cammy Dierking if she knew what she may do after leaving WKRC-TV on Dec. 20, she surprised me with an emphatic “YES!”
She smiled and slid her new business card across the table to me.
It read: “Cammy Dierking. Personal Trainer. Five Seasons Family Sports Club.”
"I have a job, and I start Jan. 2," says Dierking, 59. She's so excited to get going that she’ll begin her next career on a Thursday, immediately after New Year’s Day, instead of waiting until the following Monday, like most people switching jobs.
"My passion has always been fitness. After getting these joint replacements (both knees and a hip), I really feel I want to help old people stay fit and active. So much illness and disease can be prevented with lifestyle changes,” she says.
Dierking, 59, has worked 31 years at Channel 12. The daughter of UC and Cincinnati Royals player Connie Dierking was hired as the city’s first female sportscaster in 1988. She transitioned to co-anchoring Good Morning Cincinnati newscasts for 13 years (with John Lomax and mostly meteorologist Steve Horstmeyer) while raising three daughters; and co-anchored the main evening newscasts with Rob Braun since 2010.
The Sycamore High School (1978) and Miami University (1982) graduate told her Channel 12 bosses in April that she was leaving at the end of her contract in December – two months before Braun left in late June.
Dierking politely declined to comment when I broke the story July 9 that she had decided to leave the station. At the time, she already was preparing for her next career by studying for her American Council on Exercise certification as a personal trainer, which she received in October.
Dierking confirmed her departure in early November by tweeting a photo of my story – from July 1988, when WKRC-TV hired her as the first Cincinnati (and Ohio) female sports reporter. (Channel 12 has not announced who will replace Dierking and Braun, or weekend morning anchor Perry Schaible.)
It’s no surprise that she will work at Five Seasons. She’s been a member since it opened in 1988 at 11790 Snider Road, Symmes Township. The health club was built on a farm called Timber Trails once owned by her grandfather, Robert Wachendorf. Dierking still has an old cast iron stove from the farmhouse.
"I go there every day to work out. I feel like this was meant to be," she says.
What’s best of all is that, for the first time, she can work a normal 9-to-5 day after three decades on either TV's early morning or late-night shifts.
"I can't wait to have dinner with my husband,”'she says. She recently celebrated her 31st anniversary with husband John, a construction supervisor. They have three daughters (ages 24, 26 and 28) who live in Cincinnati, Denver and Austin, Texas.
Dierking says she grew up as a tomboy who loved to watch her dad play basketball for the Royals at old Cincinnati Gardens. She knew she wanted to be a sportscaster since she sat in the WXIX-TV production truck when her dad was the UC Bearcats color commentator in the 1970s. Sometimes she sat next to him court-side as his statistician.
"There were no female sportscasters back then, but I didn’t care. I said, 'Well, I’ll be the first.' I got to do everything that I wanted to do, and do it in my hometown, for the No. 1 station. I loved every second of it. I don’t t know how else to say it, but I’m so darn lucky."
At Sycamore, she swam and played basketball and volleyball. "When you’re six-feet tall, and have a dad who played pro basketball, you played sports," she says.
She has run 20 marathons and biked numerous 100-mile “century” rides. She has competed in three Ironman Triathlons (2.4 mile swim; 112-mile bike; 26.2-mile run). She has been an honorary chair or spokesperson for the Heart Mini-Marathon, HeartStone Bike Tour, JDRF Ride to Cure, Hike for Hospice and the Thanksgiving Day Race.
Every day she exercises an hour on her Peleton bike at home, or swims, lifts weights or bikes on roads near her Loveland home.
In the past three years, Dierking has watched many long-time co-workers leave Channel 12: Braun and reporters Rich Jaffe, Deb Dixon, Joe Webb, Larry Davis and Jeff Hirsh. The station’s culture changed after Sinclair Broadcast Group bought the station in 2012, particularly with the company-mandated editorial Braun and Dierking were ordered to read last year about media companies pushing "their own personal bias and agenda."
"I miss them all," she says. "The business is changing, and I was changing, and I'm ready for something new. I'm grateful I had the run (at Channel 12) that I did. It's just time."
I didn’t ask about that 2018 editorial or Channel 12's owner. I know what's going on there. I've written about it a lot over the last 18 months including when Braun detailed his frustrations about Sinclair's style being "hard to swallow" and feeling like a "puppet" in an October interview on WVXU-FM’s Cincinnati Edition.
At the end of our conversation, as she was heading into work, she said: "Thanks for not asking about Sinclair. I'm so tired of talking about it."