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TEGNA8 names Chris Lawrence as John McCaa's sucessor

Chris Lawrence

@unclebarkycom on Twitter
Dallas-based TEGNA8 has acted fast in naming a replacement for longtime mainstay anchor John McCaa, who announced in August that he’ll be retiring in March.

The ABC affiliate announced Monday that Chris Lawrence of NBC-owned WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., will be joining the station and teaming with Cynthia Izaguirre on weekday evening newscasts.

As previously posted, Izaguirre has been on a lengthy leave of absence after having a hysterectomy and adopting a child with her husband, Jeremy, with whom she had twins in 2012. McCaa has been with TEGNA8 since 1984 and declined an offer to stay on board longer.

Lawrence, with WRC since January 2014, is a University of Maryland graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He and his wife also have three young children. Before WRC, he worked a decade at CNN, covering national security issues as a Pentagon correspondent, according to TEGNA8’s announcement. Lawrence also has reported from Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel and other international fronts while covering major domestic stories ranging from Hurricane Katrina to the Boston Marathon bombings.

His resume “speaks for itself,” TEGNA8 president and general manager Brad Ramsey said in a statement. “But we are most excited about his ability to connect with the local audience and his interest in helping WFAA (referred to as TEGNA8 in these spaces) continue to lead the way on innovation.”

Lawrence also has worked for CBS Newspath and local stations in Detroit, Syracuse and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

In hiring Lawrence, TEGNA8 has chosen to bypass in-house anchor Jason Wheeler, who also had wanted the job and has been with the station since November 2012. Lawrence will arrive in perilous times, ratings-wise, for TEGNA8, which is having continued problems across the board in the key battlegrounds of 6 a.m. and 5, 6 and 10 p.m.

TEGNA8’s quick action in tabbing McCaa’s successor is in contrast to CBS11, which still hasn’t filled the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscast slot left open when Kaley O’Kelley left the station in May and quickly landed a spot as the morning co-anchor at KNXV-TV in Phoenix. Doug Dunbar, her former on-air partner at CBS11, has been soloing of late, with the station currently in a strong position to win the 10 p.m. November sweeps ratings in total viewers without a traditional male-female anchor team.

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