THEN & NOW: Tracy WirtzAug 31, 2018 11:39AM ● By Scott Brazda
The date was March 29, 2018, and for KATC-TV’s Tracy Wirtz, it was – at least on its surface – a day like any other. Except it really wasn’t. “I knew it was my last day on the air,” recalls Wirtz, FACE Magazine’s cover story in September 2012. “The crew made a beautiful video for me, and then we had cake!” But after the many hugs and goodbyes, she stepped into a new reality.
“Then I left, walked out the door and through the KATC parking lot thinking, ‘This is the new chapter.’”
But many viewers of Good Morning Acadiana were very surprised by Wirtz’s decision to leave. I mean, the show was number-one, and she had a strong fan base, so… why give it up? “It was something I’d been considering for a couple of years, something of which I prayed every day that I would make the right decision.” When her three kids were young and in school, hosting a morning show was the perfect job; Wirtz could pick them up, do homework, etc. But as the children grew up, moved out, got jobs and had kids of their own, the family dynamic had changed – and so had her health.
“I started waking up earlier and earlier, some days at 12:30 a.m.” she says. “It was becoming very difficult, and very detrimental to my health, all of it induced by fatigue.” Then, there was the person Wirtz considers her very best friend. “My husband and I like spending time with each other, and we were becoming ships passing in the night. So, for the sake of my marriage and my health, I knew it was time to leave that particular position.”
And as much as she loved doing ‘Good Morning Acadiana’, she says the change has definitely been for the better. “I was just so exhausted, and there was nothing I could do to overcome it. But now, I literally see colors more clearly; I can have a coherent conversation in the afternoon, and not worry about getting behind the wheel and worry that I’ll be risking my life. In fact, my doctor told me, ‘You look so rested; I’m so glad you did this.’”
Retirement, though, was not part of Wirtz’s plan. “I am a broadcaster; that is my calling.” But where the next road would take her was a trip into the unknown, although she tells us, she wasn’t alone on this journey. “I’m very faithful, and I trust God completely,” she explains. “I had this sense of peace and even though I wasn’t exactly sure what was going to happen next, I trusted that peace and trusted that God would take care of me.”
Part of the plan has been her role as spokesperson for the Courtesy Automotive Group, and the continuance of her radio work at 97.3 The Dawg; the latter is a perfect fit because radio was her first foray into broadcasting. “I love the intimacy of radio,” she says, “knowing that you’re talking to someone you can’t see who may need to hear your voice at that point and time.” Plus, there is the music. “As an announcer, you aren’t the star of the show. The music is the true star.”
The new schedule has allowed Tracy Wirtz to fully immerse herself into a new venture as well, that of grandmother. “My oldest daughter has a nine-year old girl, Braylie Jane, and the minute she was born I told myself, ‘Anything this kid ever wants she’s going to get.’” (This was a phone interview, but I could clearly see my former co-worker laughing and smiling as we discussed this topic). While she breathes for her children, adds Wirtz, being a grandmother is fantastic. “I’m called ‘Gigi’, by the way. Grandmother love is the best, and Braylie is a star that shines brightly.”
Except for the first six months of her life (spent in Alexandria), Wirtz has lived in Crowley her entire life. Her latest path is allowing her more time to explore her home, and to visit with her parents, both of whom are in their early seventies. “Mom and Dad were both educators, and through their relationship, we kids learned some valuable lessons.” Specifically? “The best gift a father can give his children is by showing love for their mother. It teaches us how to love.”
Her mantra, she says, brings our discussion back to her faith and her trust in a higher power. “That’s easy: Psalm 46:10 which says, ‘Be still and know that I’m God.’” I’m happy to say that following such a path appears to be working quite well for Tracy Wirtz.
“It was simply time to move on from the morning show,” she concludes. “I’ve now had time to meditate and pray and figure out what God wants me to do. I’m very faithful, and I trust God completely.”