Chris Lawrence, currently at WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., will join WFAA/Channel 8’s news department in January 2019, the station announced today, and will move into the evening anchor role long filled by John McCaa, who has already announced that he will retire March 1.
Lawrence will co-anchor evening newscasts beginning in March with Cynthia Izaguirre, as well as work as a field anchor during major events, and “will be a key player on the station’s digital platforms,” the release says.
He has been an anchor-reporter at WRC since January 2014. He previously spent a decade at CNN, where he covered national security issues as a Pentagon correspondent. His work has taken him to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel.
National stories he has covered include the California wildfires, the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. He was among the first reporters to broadcast live from New Orleans after the levees broke during Hurricane Katrina, contributing to coverage that earned a George Foster Peabody Award, and he has spent months embedded with U.S. troops in war zones around the world.
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Before CNN, Lawrence worked for CBS Newspath, traveling to Rome to report on the sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. He had reported for stations in Detroit, Syracuse, N.Y., and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
He is a veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve, and he graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor of science in journalism. He and his wife have three young children, two girls and a boy.
“After more than 42 years in television news, I intend to retire next March,” McCaa said in the story. “It has been a true privilege and an honor to be welcomed into your home for the broadcasts and programs I have anchored.”
His last day will be March 1, which means he’ll be around for the February “sweeps” period (the November period concludes this week).
“It is not easy to step away from a business in which you have worked for two-thirds of your life and loved even longer” wrote McCaa, who joined the station as a reporter in 1984 and began anchoring various broadcasts in 1988. Since 1992, he has done the nighttime duties.
“After I retire, we’re going on a very long trip,” he told the Star-Telegram in August. “We want to try one of those Viking River Cruises. When we haven’t been to a particular place, we will usually cruise there, to determine whether we want to go back and spend some time. Because cruising, you’re usually only there for a day. It’s a good way to kind of briefly explore areas.”
According to a previous release, McCaa came to WFAA after working as a reporter at Omaha’s WOWT for over seven years. His first assignment was in WFAA’s Fort Worth bureau, before transferring to the Dallas newsroom in 1988, where he has worked ever since.
McCaa began anchoring various WFAA broadcasts the same year, while serving as a newsroom manager.
In 1992 he began full time anchoring duties on the station, where he currently co-anchors the nightly 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts with Cynthia Izaguirre, as well as hosting special local programming, and presenting his popular “Uncut” commentaries. Much of that anchoring time was alongside Gloria Campos, who retired in 2014.
Izaguirre, who has been his co-anchor since then, has been on leave of absence from the station and is expected to return either late this year or in early 2019.
She has a pinned tweet, dated Oct. 1, atop her Twitter feed saying that she was taking adoption leave because she was adopting a child, and because she was having surgery Oct. 1. Anchor-reporter Marie Saavedra has been filling in for her.
But back to McCaa, who in 2015 received a Ph.D. in humanities-history of ideas from The University of Texas at Dallas. He has a master’s degree in politics from the University of Dallas and a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University.
In a 2011 Star-Telegram story about the off-air lives of TV anchors, McCaa, a drummer who has been playing since his parents gave him his first snare in sixth grade, said that he grew up in an Air Force family that moved around a lot, living in such places as Idaho and Spain. He started playing with bands when he was in ninth grade. Eventually, he got to play in clubs in Madrid. But when he returned to the States to go to college, he had to leave his original $119.95 Sears drum kit behind.
The Star-Telegram has a content partnership with WFAA.