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Tracy Townsend wakes at 1:45 a.m. to bring you the news

And the Columbus newscaster does it with a smile. “There’s power in making sure people really know what’s happening,” she says.

In a dimly lit kitchen, a Black woman with a stylish haircut leans on her counter as she smiles at her laptop, which is showing a virtual meeting with colleagues. The light from the monitor lights up her face and reflects off her glasses.

Tracy Townsend meets virtually with colleagues hours before most people wake up.

Tracy Townsend knew at age 14 she wanted to be a journalist, and she nurtured that desire in Ohio State’s broadcast sequence. She’s now 35 years into an award-winning career, and her passion for reporting and presenting news on television remains as bright as the red studio light signifying the start of another broadcast.

“Even after all these years, when that light goes on — ‘On Air’ — there’s still nothing like it,” Townsend says.

Her enthusiasm and engaging personality shine as she manages and anchors two Monday-through-Friday telecasts for WBNS-10TV in Columbus. She started there in 2005, after TV journalism jobs in Chicago, Kansas City and her hometown of Cincinnati.

“I try to be somebody on air who you either want to have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with — I can do either of those — and I’m serious when I need to be,” says Townsend, who co-anchors “Wake Up Columbus” at 4:30–7 a.m., anchors “10TV News at Noon,” and serves as the station’s medical correspondent.

Townsend’s personal style and journalism skills have led to many honors, including three Emmy awards. She enjoys the unpredictability of each day, the excitement of breaking news and the people she meets or knows are watching — a reminder of the responsibility she has.

“There’s power in making sure people really know what’s happening,” Townsend says. “It’s a privilege for me to talk to them. They have options and so I feel like, ‘Oh, you’re watching this; let me give you my best today.’ I feel a real commitment to each day.”

We experienced her dedication by spending a recent weekday with her.

1:45 a.m. Wake up, at the usual time, to start my day. Coffee!

2:30 a.m. From my kitchen, I meet online with our morning show producers to talk about the upcoming newscast. No breaking news comes up; everything seems mild. I refresh my coffee, pack my lunch and head out at 3 a.m. for our WBNS-10TV office.

In a brightly lit newsroom, Tracy Townsend points to a computer monitor while working together with another woman sitting at the desk. They’re both wearing glasses and look focused. Tracy is in her on-camera clothes — a black sheath dress and a chunky necklace. The other woman wears a knit cap and vest.

3:50 a.m. After writing some script for a brief I’ll record for Alexa, I chat with news producer Lynecia Christion at her newsroom desk. We talk about some of the copy I’ll be reading on the newscast. We make sure the teleprompter script reads like my voice. I’m a little nerdy, a little obsessive-compulsive about pronunciation.

Tracy Townsend, an attractive woman with symmetrical features and bright lipstick, grins as she looks at a camera during the newscast. The background is a picture of a sunrise over Columbus. She touches her hands together in front of her; her long nails are painted baby blue. On the desk in front of her sits a tablet computer.

4:25 a.m. I’m not nervous, but my adrenaline is always rushing as our “Wake Up Columbus” show begins. It’s good energy. Since walking into the studio 15 minutes ago, I’ve gone through my mental checklist, like an athlete getting ready to run in a track meet. Microphone Velcro-strapped to my leg working? On? Check. My earpiece so I can hear the director and producer? On? Check. Two earrings? Yes, both on. My coffee, water and makeup are behind the desk. I’m logged into social media. Let’s go.  

Tracy Townsend is seriously laughing as she puts her hand down on the long studio desk. She’s looking toward colleague Angela An, who is smiling. On Tracy’s other side sits Clay Gordon. He is also laughing. The three, who are on air, are all dressed up and seem well in-tune in their amusement

6 a.m. The morning show is two and a half hours long, but it’s fun because we work as a team. I really like sharing the studio desk with Angela An and Clay Gordon. The three of us are kind of in the trenches together. It’s great that we play off each other and really try to support each other. Same with our meteorologist and traffic anchor.

Tracy Townsend looks at a colleague near her at a large table in a meeting room, as she smiles and touches her necklace. Her enjoyment seems both friendly and sincere.

7:15 a.m. The telecast went pretty well, and now our morning team of producers, anchors and reporters has a daily meeting to discuss future stories we’re working on and plan for upcoming days. In a couple of hours, we’ll have a similar weekly meeting online for the full staff.

Tracy Townsend works on her eye makeup as she leans close to a mirror, watching herself as she touches up what she calls her face before her next newscast.

11:30 a.m.  I love my shift because after the morning show, there’s kind of a lull, and then I’m back on the air as anchor of “10TV News at Noon.” I recorded a promo, rewrote a story, and then it’s my routine: Get the face on — I call it “spackling” — and fix my hair. Once I take off my comfy shoes and put on the high heels, I’m ready. Let’s get some news on.

Wearing a headset phone at her work desk, Tracy Townsend chats and laughs. Farther down the line of desks sits Angela An, also wearing a headset phone.

12:40 p.m. I’m back in the newsroom after the noon show, which went great. It’s only hard to get my energy back up for the second telecast when it’s a slow day. Today, we had some interesting, big news, so that kind of fuels me. Do some research for an upcoming interview. Time to go home. I’m kind of drained. The news is closed.

Tracy Turner and her husband, Murvin, eat prepared food (salads or grain bowls-it's hard to tell) at a table next to their kitchen

4 p.m. It’s great to relax with my husband, Murvin, after we eat — my dinner, his lunch — together at home. This is my third year doing this shift. I’m used to it. I figured out you just turn everything around. I’ll end the day with a good book.

6:30 p.m. Time for bed even though the sun’s still out.

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