Nora Murray, considered a rising star in Toledo television news, is walking away from the business at age 30.
The WNWO-TV, Channel 24, anchor's contract expires on Aug. 31, and she has decided that a career change - to one that is more conducive to family life - is in order.
After graduating from Northwestern University in 1994, Murray had the same goal as many young television journalists.
“I saw myself as a network reporter,” she said. But her vision of the future has evolved through the years, to the point where she no longer wants to work nights and spend so much time away from her husband.
“When I think about five years from now, I think about the white-picket fence thing - with my husband and, hopefully, two kids. I see my mother, who was home with us at night; family dinners around the kitchen table,” she said. “Priorities change. This isn't an indictment of the business.”
But she did admit to suffering from burnout. “I couldn't bring myself to sign a contract,” she said. “I'm not adverse to hard work - it's a lifestyle issue. I think the best journalists are the ones who live and breathe it. That's why it's not a job, it's a lifestyle. And I'm tired of that lifestyle.”
Murray became anchor of the NBC affiliate's evening newscasts in October. For more than two years before that, she anchored the 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. newscasts, meaning she had to report to work twice each day - at 3:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Murray's husband, Matt Lockwood, spent six years as a television news reporter - including three-plus years at WNWO - before becoming media relations manager for the Medical College of Ohio in November, 2000. “I can totally understand where she's coming from,” he said. “Now that I'm out of the business, I know how nice it can be.”
She said she is tired of “life by Post-it notes and telephone calls.” July 31 will be the couple's three-year anniversary.
This is the second jolt WNWO has received in a month. Anchor Jon Clark left on June 7 after deciding not to sign a new contract with the Raycom-owned station. Clark and Murray anchored the station's 90-minute news block beginning at 5 p.m. as well as the 11 p.m. newscast.
“We're extremely sorry to see Nora go,” WNWO news director Lou Hebert said. “I think the world of her. I think very highly of her talents. ... [Losing two anchors] is definitely going to be something we're going to have to deal with. It's going to hurt.”
Murray's final day on the air at WNWO will be Aug. 7, which is the final day of a four-week ratings period. The July sweeps begin tomorrow.
Clark, who is pursuing job openings both inside and outside the television business, said he thoroughly enjoyed the time he spent working with Murray.
“I respect her immensely as a journalist,” Clark said. “She is one of the hardest working people I've ever had the pleasure of sharing a newsroom with. I'm sorry that she's getting out of the industry because I think she's enormously talented.”
Murray has no job prospects. “I'm nervous because I've done nothing but journalism,” she said.
She doesn't rule out the possibility of returning to television some day - “I will never say `never'” - but doubts that she will. “Everyone I know who has left the business, they're all happy,” she said. Her contract has a one-year noncompete clause, meaning she couldn't work on the air in Toledo until September, 2003.
Murray, an Elyria native, said she comes from “close-knit Irish Catholic family.” Two of her sisters also made similar career decisions, opting to quit jobs [one was a partner in a Cleveland law firm; the other was CEO of a physical-rehabilitation hospital] and become stay-at-home moms.
“They're worried about me because they think they set some sort of example,” she said. “I'm not saying I'm going to stay home, but they did set an example in terms of priorities.”