Wirtz Enjoys Telling Stories as a KLFY Broadcaster


Photo courtesy of KLFY

Crowley native Tracy Wirtz joined the KLFY news team in October 2018.

Travis Hayes, Sports Editor

Crowley High graduate Tracy Wirtz is a familiar face to most of the people in Acadiana since she works as a KLFY broadcaster.

Wirtz, 50, graduated from CHS in 1988. She was an honor student who participated in the Key Club, Math Club, French Club, and was the CHS Lady mascot.

Wirtz graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette when it was the University of Southwestern Louisiana (USL) and received her degree in mass communications.

Wirtz, the oldest of seven children, is married to Kevin Wirtz, and they have three adult children: Bonnie, Terryn, and Cory. Her second daughter Terryn was on the radio for three years as an announcer. 

Wirtz has been in the broadcasting industry for more than 30 years. She said the first half of her career was spent in radio. She exited the industry for five years and dabbled in real estate and advertising sales.  

In 2000, she returned to the radio before taking a position as a news anchor.

Wirtz said her desire for a career in radio or television was born when she was young. Her love of telling stories has served her well in her chosen profession. “The stories we tell are true,” mentioned Wirtz, “but they also need to be engaging, compelling, and interesting. Otherwise, who will want to read, watch, or listen?”  She said what she does is challenging because there is a time limit within which she is allowed to tell the story.

Tracy Wirtz, right, and Darla Montgomery co-anchor the 5 p.m. broadcast. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Wirtz)

What Wirtz enjoys about her job is the writing. “I enjoy the importance of being accurate. The fact that what we provide is valuable and, at times, vital to our users (listeners or viewers),” she said. She also enjoys the changes in the industry that seem to be happening every day. She said it isn’t always fun but keeps them thinking and improving. 

Wirtz admitted that much of her day is routine, with several tasks that need completion for the production of a newscast. Her team meets in the morning to discuss what is going on in the area, what they need to cover, and develop for that day. They bring up ideas and decide what to work on. “I personally edit a lot of scripts, schedule interviews, and set up stories I may personally be working on.”

Her favorite experiences with her job are covering crises, like hurricanes. “Not because I like hurricanes but because I know the information is so vital, and I see our team come together so well to work hard to provide what our audience needs. We must provide the ‘News of the Day,’ but those good stories help me and our viewers remember that humans can be kind.”

The difficulty of being a reporter, she feels, is going into dangerous places. “Knowing that we must tell the truth even when we know there will be those who won’t appreciate it.”  Wirtz admitted, as an anchor, it is hard relaying stories about crimes against children or heinous crimes. “We must remain stoic, but inside I’m crying and wishing I didn’t have to sometimes.”

The advice Wirtz gives to future journalists/reporters is to understand that you must pay your dues. She also advises learning entails more than just being in the classroom. A degree doesn’t give experience, nor does it make you equal to those who have clocked in more time in news than you. 

She also added, “Respect those people, whether you like them, agree with them, or think they are antiquated. You have something to learn from every person you come into contact with, good or bad. Listen and pay attention to everyone of every age. If you are in this business simply to see your byline, hear your voice on the radio, or see your face on tv, you are in it for the wrong reason. Choose another profession.”Witz worked for KATC for nearly 13 years. She left there in 2018. Six months later, she signed on as an evening anchor at KLFY. She has also worked in radio with various Acadiana stations.

Wirtz liked many things about working in radio. “It allows for personality and fun a bit more than TV does. I enjoy music, too. I genuinely love music. And I have always liked the immediacy of radio,” she explained. “On TV, if the news is breaking, you need to wait for the production crew to fire up the studio and get into place to break into programming. In radio, you can announce it at a moment’s notice because you are the ‘pilot.’”

She admitted that there are many differences in radio and TV reporting.  “The obvious answer is that you have pictures on TV. That’s the short answer. Nowadays, you can’t think of broadcast media or news in terms of radio/tv. The internet and mobile devices have completely changed the landscape of what we do,” said Wirtz.  “Nearly all media companies that are really competing are now “blank Media” not “blank Television/Radio.” They might have a TV OR radio station, but they all have digital platforms as well. That allows all of them to offer video so, as a journalist, you are trained to know how to do all of those things. That said, in my opinion, it takes someone crazy talented to do radio news because you don’t have the luxury of video to fall back on to be compelling, engaging, and interesting.”

Wirtz’s future career goals are, she states in the stage of her career, to retire before she dies.

Caroline Marcello is the morning anchor at the station where Wirtz works. Marcello edits content, and writes and develops stories. She has worked with Wirtz for two years.

Actor Judd Lormand, left, of CBS’ Seal Team meets with KLFY anchor Tracy Wirtz for an interview. (Photo courtesy of Tracy Wirtz)

Marcello’s first impression of Wirtz was that Wirtz has lots of positive energy. “Her excitement for the job really showed from the beginning.” The most memorable moments they share are making each other laugh. “Even on the rough days, she understands what to say to lighten the mood and make things fun again.”

Marcello and Wirtz, who see each other everyday, share an open newsroom with more than 25 people. “She is always willing to help with a story and is great at gathering research,” she stated.

Marcello enjoys working with Wirtz. “She puts 100 percent into all her stories because she cares so much about newscasts itself,” said Marcello. Her love and passion for Acadiana and its residents drive her work.”

Marcello added, “News isn’t always an easy field to work in but having coworkers like Tracy and others at KLFY makes it a lot easier!”