(UPDATE: We chatted with McGarry on Wednesday afternoon. Her comments have been added below.)
Jane McGarry, best-known in DFW for her 30 years at KXAS/Channel 5, will become a co-host of WFAA/Channel 8’s Good Morning Texas, beginning March 9.
“ ‘Count your blessings’…your Mom said it a million times,” McGarry wrote. “And today, I am! I am so happy to tell you that I will be joining the Good Morning Texas team on a daily basis, beginning Monday, March 9.”
McGarry says the lifestyle-and-entertainment show is a great fit for her.
“I like to cook, I like to decorate, I like to travel, I like to do all those things,” she says. “So you get to do all those fun things, but it’s a really unique opportunity to do longer-form pieces and interviews with high-profile people.”
McGarry has been doing regular “Texas Legends” features about well-known Texans and has also done a series of “Starting Over” profiles of people rebounding from major obstacles and setbacks in their lives.
McGarry will continue doing the long-form pieces during her co-hosting tenure. “I’m really looking forward to doing more of that, as a matter of fact,” she says.
McGarry’s addition to the GMT lineup — Mike Castellucci, Carrie McClure. Paige Smith and Shannon Powell Hart — quickly fills a vacancy created by the impending exit of Amy Vanderoef, who is leaving the program, which Vanderoef has been part of since 2006. Vanderoef’s scheduled last day is March 6. McGarry says it was a natural transition for her.
“They have known for a long time that I’ve been thrilled with the opportunity to do the longer-form pieces,” McGarry says. “It’s pretty unusual to have that opportunity these days in television. It’s been a great relationship. I’ve told them for a long time that I’d welcome the opportunity to contribute more, so naturally when Amy decided to leave, they knew that I was interested.”
McGarry worked at KXAS/Channel 5 from 1982 to 2012, and co-anchored evening and late newscasts there for 20 of those years. Even when she was at KXAS, she did long-form features and prime-time specials featuring Texas newsmakers.
“I enjoyed every moment I spent behind the anchor desk at 5,” she says. “I loved what I did. But my roots in broadcasting go back to doing interview shows for a radio station before I ever got into TV. One of the first things I did when I moved to Texas 30 years ago was interview Walker Railey, the Methodist minister accused of strangling his wife. The day that I interviewed him, we ran that interview straight through at 10, and it lasted for 15 or 20 minutes. So my roots in doing that kind of journalism go a long way.”
Other interview subjects have included Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, George W. Bush before he was elected governor of Texas and then-Texas Gov. Ann Richards. But the long-form pieces don’t fit the fast-paced half-hour or so format of most newscasts, while they work well within Good Morning Texas’ hour-long slot.
“It’s the thing I most enjoy,” McGarry says. “I love learning about people. I love interviewing Mark Cuban and finding out what inspired him. I love interviewing Roger Staubach and finding out how he became the most successful businessman to come out of the NFL.”
McGarry has been reluctant to talk about the May 2012 DWI arrest that led to her exit from NBC 5, but she rebounded quickly from it, getting back on local TV by January 2013.
“I learned a difficult lesson that I will not repeat,” she says, “and I’m really appreciative of the opportunity to be on the air every day, to come in people’s home every day.”
McGarry has an active Facebook page where she often poses provocative questions to her followers, and she plans to keep doing her Real Jane website.
“That’s a lot of fun for me,” she says. “It’s stuff I’m passionate about, and it’s synergistic with Good Morning Texas because I do a lot of lifestyle on there, but I also will take on issues on there that I’m passionate about. And you know the kind of stuff I post on Facebook. I like to get people’s opinions on things. It’s all interactive, whether it’s Facebook or Real Jane or Good Morning Texas. It’s all about being interactive and being part of the community.”
These have been a busy couple of weeks at Channel 8, with the retirement of veteran sports reporter-anchor George Riba and the impending departure of longtime medical reporter Janet St. James on top of the Vanderoef news and McGarry announcement.