Last week we reported, citing local-TV blogger Ed Bark’s initial report, that News 8 Daybreak co-anchor Alexa Conomos plans to leave WFAA/Channel 8 to focus on being a mom and on an opportunity outside the TV-news biz.
Shortly afterward, Conomos had to leave for California to visit her grandmother — who is 106 years old (read about her on Conomos’ Facebook page) — and an 83-year-old aunt who is in the hospital with a broken femur. But she’s been hearing from viewers about her departure practically from the moment the news leaked out.
“The good news is, I think [the reports are] pretty accurate,” Conomos said by phone Friday from California (she expects to be back on the air Monday morning). The reports did say, however, that Conomos plans to stay until a replacement is named. But she plans to stay till June, when her contract expires.
When we talked to Conomos for our “Wakeup Callers” story about DFW morning TV in 2012, she told us that she was a morning person. But even morning people can get tired of getting up at 3 a.m.
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“I have the ability to adjust, really, to any schedule,” she says with a laugh. “When I first started in this business, my schedule was essentially flip-flopped, and I was going to bed at 3 a.m.; now, I’ve been waking up at 3 a.m. for 20 years. It’s really just a feeling that it’s time to hang up the alarm clock. But I love Daybreak so much. It really has been my second home for 16 years.”
According to her statiion bio, Conomos joined WFAA in 2002 but came from Dallas-based Texas Cable News, which like WFAA was part of the Belo operation in DFW at the time. She began her career in California as an anchor-reporter at NBC affiliate KMIR-TV in Palm Springs, but DFW and WFAA have had a big effect on her.
“I went through a lot of milestones,” she says. “I cam as a single girl to Dallas, met my husband while I was there. I got engaged, and the viewers were there for that. I got married and the viewers were there for that. I had my three babies, and the viewers were there for all of that.”
Conomos began at WFAA as a traffic reporter and midday anchor, and in 2014 was named to co-anchor Daybreak with Ron Corning after Corning’s previous co-anchor, Cynthia Izaguirre, moved to the station’s 5 and 10 p.m. newscasts after longtime anchor Gloria Campos’ retirement. (In 2014, the Star-Telegram and WFAA formed a content partnership.)
Not long before her third child was born in 2012, Conomos asked then-news director Michael Valentine if she could scale back her hours to spend more time with family, enabling her to leave the station as soon as Daybreak was done. She says that current news director Carolyn Mungo has continued to honor that.
“I’m so grateful, because it allowed me the kind of mother that I want to be,” she says. “Now, I want to be able to be the kind of wife that I want to be. I want to be able to stay up late and watch Netflix with my husband and go on dates with him. And get my kids up in the morning. Even things like grow my hair long and part it down the middle.”
Conomos says that she does plan to help with the transition to a new co-anchor. She’s looking forward to what’s coming next, although she declined to say what that is. But she says the decision to leave the station, and her viewers, is bittersweet.
“My time at Channel 8 became really special to me when my first son was born,” she says. “He was born prematurely, to our surprise — it was a normal pregnancy but he arrived about seven weeks early. And we ended up spending 33 days in the NICU at Dallas Presbyterian Hospital. I was so surprised and humbled and shocked at the number of emails I got from viewers and how supportive they were and how much they cared. At that moment, it really felt like Texas was my home.”
Conomos says she’s not expecting a big sendoff like the station gave Campos when she retired in 2014. “I’m really just trying to do everything just business as usual,” she says. “Every day is really special and every day is so much fun. ... I don’t want anyone to make a big fuss over me. I just want to say my goodbye with a smile. And maybe a tear.”