Carol Williams guards her time carefully. With two years left before her daughter is off to college, the long-time Cincinnatian wants every minute to count.

With three-plus years left on her contract as anchor at Channel 9 News, she wants to get ready for whatever might follow.

“I see chunks of time: I have two more years with her (Katherine) and I want to make the most of it.” After her mother’s death two years ago, Williams realizes it even more. “That adds to the feeling that you don’t have all the time in the world. I want to make the most of the time I have, especially with Katherine.”

Even her bio on WCPO-TV’s web site relates the following phrase: “Life is all about achieving balance.”

Balance has always been a priority in Williams’ life. She has been an anchor at Cincinnati’s WCPO for 22 years, but she’s done it her way. When her daughter was of school age 10 years ago, she changed her schedule and took a pay cut to be home with her in the evening. When the station wanted her back on the 11 p.m. news, she made an arrangement for a long dinner break to eat dinner and do homework with Katherine.

But her years as a soccer mom are coming to an end.

What will she do when Katherine is off pursuing science and art at some university? “One thing is spending more time with my fiancé, Michael Barrett.” He’s a federal judge and the former chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party.

“One of the things I would look forward to in the future is to explore some issues of interest, to explore in greater depth on women’s and children’s issues and having more time to spend on reporting things that I don’t always have time to do now,” adds Williams. “And also to do more charitable work. Obviously, breast cancer is a big issue. That’s what my mother died from. And I’ve worked with the American Heart Association and the Go Red campaign. Cancer, heart health, the obesity epidemic we have, getting people to lose weight and exercise more, these are issues I am concerned with. I’d like to explore the difficulties of families in the (military) service. And serve holistic health issues, learning to find peace in this ADD world, to find out what’s important when there are so many distractions. “

“Carol is so grounded in what’s important,” notes Julie Isphording, Wi l l i ams ’ l o n g t i m e friend and Cincinnati’s best-known former Olympic runner. “She chose to be with her daughter. It is a really good lesson that no matter what, you stand tall and do what you really believe in and try to make it work.”

Described by others as a wonderful person, Williams knows what she wants and has always gone after it. Her blond locks are carefully styled, but her make-up is minimal. She’s not into shopping as she was when she was an anchor in Lancaster, Pa., or in her early days in Cincinnati. Now when Williams goes shopping, it’s mostly for 16-yearold Katherine. For herself, she buys what she knows looks good on TV, even though it is hard to find blazers for someone of her petite size.

Williams makes the best of each of her days, getting up for an exercise class or a walk with friends in the mornings. You can find her having coffee at a coffeehouse without studio make-up.

On this night at Panera Bread in Hyde Park, as she eats a salad and sips on tea, a viewer recognizes her. “Just saw you on TV, Carol,” the woman says. Williams says thanks and continues eating.

“It’s very flattering, very nice,” Williams says of the attention. “I’m very grateful to have been able to do this as long as I have. It means people are watching and that’s what we want them to do.”

In Cincinnati, fans are respectful and polite.

“I’m very happy to belong to a city,” Williams says. “I knew this was the kind of job that would be comfortable for me.”

She enjoys her job and her camaraderie with Clyde Gray, whom she has been paired with for 17 years. They have a chemistry because they share a similar sense of humor. “I know what Clyde is going to say before he says it,” Williams says. Gray calls her his “TV wife.”

“It really is a partnership, you do know a lot about a person when you sit beside him five days a week,” Williams relates. “You get into a rhythm. We’ve always kind of have had that journalistic sense of humor. We very much have a work relationship that makes work a lot more fun.”

Bob Morford, the news director at Channel 9, says Williams is a strong player for the WCPOTV team. Keeping her and Gray together is important and that’s why he didn’t hesitate to sign them both up for longterm contracts.

They have the right combination of professionalism and likeability, according to Morford. “When things go right, they go very right, and when things go wrong, they take over from each other.”

Morford can’t take credit for allowing Williams to take a few years off the 11 p.m. news, but he is responsible for bringing her back. His predecessors realized that keeping Williams at Channel 9 at all cost was more important than having her on the 11 o’clock news. They were afraid she might quit and go to another station in town or go to a bigger town.

“She could have anchored anywhere in the country,” states Morford. “Fortunately, she established a life here.”

John Kiesewetter, the long-time television writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, says station managers realized Williams’ effect on ratings when they gave her a 9-year contract. “She was wellknown and well-respected by the viewers. By being able to lock up your main anchors, it gives stability to the viewers.”

Stability, Kiesewetter notes, is what people in Cincinnati like. “We’re viewers of habit. We like to have the same people deliver the news.”

And Williams has been embraced by the community in the same way she has embraced Cincinnati. “She is a good reporter, writer and a good anchor,” Kiesewetter observes. “She’s very bright.”

Williams came to Cincinnati after working as an anchor at WGAL-TV in Lancaster, Pa., but television was not her first career choice. She studied English at Duke and has a master’s degree in education from John Hopkins. She worked for a short time as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army in Natick, Mass. She edited a newspaper, and wrote stories and press releases: skills, she realized, she could use in journalism.

Her job allows her to be the public face of news for many people. “I like all of it. I like writing and the communication and the performing aspect of it. I’m comfortable with that.”

Cincinnati works for Williams because of its small town feel. She grew up in the little Delaware community of Laurel. Like her viewers, Williams values stability, not being the type to sever ties and move on every few years. “I like to have friends, many whom I have known since I got here.”

One of those friends is Isphording, who first met Williams while she was applying for the WCPO job. Isphording, who was working for the station at the time, was called in one Sunday to be Williams’ trial interview. “She was so good. There was no doubt in anyone’s mind she would be the new anchor.”

Since then, the two remain strong friends and talk on the phone often.

Both women are well known, and appreciate when people recognize them. They also do some charitable work together. Most recently, Isphording was in charge of the Smart Talk Women’s Lecture Series at the Aronoff, and she asked Williams to be the moderator.

After each speech, the two would grab a quick cup of coffee before Williams would return to work.

“She’s such a good friend and a wonderful person in every way,” says Isphording, who is now a consultant for external affairs at the Lindner Center of Hope and author of Get Healthy, Get Happy: How to Make Small Changes That Give You Big Results. “She’s doing everything she wants to do. Everything (in her life) is pretty full.”

Williams fits charity work in between her job and family. She may emcee an event on a night Katherine is with her father, and likes to do family-oriented charity work. She has worked with the National Association of Mental Illness Walk, Pro-kids, the Cheetah Run at the Cincinnati Zoo and the Pink Ribbon luncheon for breast cancer research, and the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women campaign. “I really try to guard my time at night with Katherine, but I like to help out organizations that are important,” Williams says.

Most of her charity work involves aspects of women’s health, and she’s a member of the National Association of Healthcare Journalists. Williams anchors the stations’ daily “Healthy Living” segment. (Recent topics have included skin cancer, preventive masectomy and women’s heart health.) She won an Emmy last year for her report on brain imaging.

She hopes to do more charity work in the years ahead, using her celebrity to help different causes. “I want to make a greater difference in my community.”

“I’m gratified I have gotten to do this as long as I have,” she adds. “If you asked me 30 years ago, I never thought I would be able to anchor as long as I have. It’s exciting to get Katherine to college. It’s exciting to figure out what the next chapter is.”