Viewers claim this Southern 'Belle'
as one of Cleveland's Own
She has the face and name that everyone in Northeast Ohio knows, and has come to trust. She is Fox 8 News anchor Stacey Bell. There is a lot to know about this young, dynamic woman. Here is some of her story.
Fox 8 News Anchor Stacey Bell
Stacey was born on October 5 in Memphis Tennessee, although she grew up about 50 miles away in a small town in Arkansas. She is the oldest of three children; all girls.
Stacey has a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communication that she earned at the University of Central Arkansas.
Stacey started out doing what most new TV people do. "Most of us worked many years to get here. You work weekends in some small market and don't make a lot of money. It's not glamorous. Then you come to Cleveland and stand out in the cold and snow trying to work your way up to the anchor desk. You don't just graduate and get the main anchor job."
She knows that the first job she got, in Texarkana, Texas, was because a black woman left and they needed another black female. "I know that now and I knew that then. I decided they could hire me because I'm black but they would keep me because I'm good."
Stacey's entry into the Cleveland market was the result of a resume tape she sent to Fox 8. They liked what they saw and Stacey thought it would be "an interesting experience to live in Cleveland."
Fox 8 anchors Bill Martin and Stacey Bell
Stacey acknowledges that she has been very successful in the Cleveland market. She's been here over eight years, and had originally only planned on two. Of course she misses her family, but she knew going in that her profession would keep her moving. She considers Cleveland home now and is even buying a house on Cleveland's East Side. (She was a west-sider until just recently).
Stacey would recommend television journalism to young people but only if "they are really passionate and willing to make sacrifices." She points out that very few people get to stay in their own area or market. This is especially difficult for people with spouses and children.
Then, of course, there are the hours and the assignments. "When you start out," says Stacey "you'll be standing out in the snow and reporting in the worst circumstances. Don't expect to start out at the top." Stacey now works 3:00 to 11:00 but says her hours have fluctuated many times in her career.
The internet is having an impact on television news. She's not even sure there will be television news anchors in the next twenty years and she is savvy enough to know that requires a Plan B. "I try to make wise financial choices and save money when I can."
One of Stacey's few regrets is a personal one; she wishes that she understood at 22 or 25 that she was special. "I really didn't get that until later. I always felt I wasn't good enough." She says she learned that it was okay to say "No."
Stacey believes Katie Couric was a good choice to replace Dan Rather. She looks at her as popular and versatile and a very hard worker. Stacey admires the first in most anything.
"People like her are trailblazers. You look at them and think how great that their dream job came along when they were 49 or 50. Meredith Vieira got her dream job at 52. It is very inspiring. Age can't stop you unless you let it."
Stacey is a serious news anchor, but of course, the job does involve the occasional frivolous story. She says she wouldn't mind skipping the stories on Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears, but for some people that's news.
Stacey Bell and Donny Osmond
Then there is the football betting - with a horse. Along with co-anchor Bill Martin and Sports anchor Tony Rizzo, Stacey bet on every Browns game - and so did the horse! Although she says she "didn't get it" she acknowledges that people loved it.
She says she is okay with things like that because "we do a good job. We don't miss any news stories. We never let something important go by to make room for something silly." She also notes that sometimes it is important just to bring in a lighter note to the news when things can be very depressing or negative.
It is not difficult for her to keep her political and personal feelings to herself, because she knows that is part of her job. She says she does not want to irritate even one viewer just to get her opinion heard.
"It's not fair to the viewer to give my opinion. That's not what they tuned in for." Stacey and Bill have been known to spar a bit, however, since, as Stacey says "my co-anchor and I are on opposite ends of a lot of our views."
Fox 8 anchors Bill Martin and Stacey Bell
There is no specific dress code that Stacey is required to abide by, but being the pro that she is she "just knows" what's appropriate. She also relies on Lorrie Taylor who always has extra jackets around and says, "Everyone knows if there is some problem with an outfit I am wearing please tell me. I would rather know than go on and look foolish."
She's also pretty confident that if her outfit is inappropriate or if she's having a bad hair day, people will call and complain. "I'm sorry to say I could screw up a report on the State of the Union and half of the audience wouldn't notice, but if I have a bad hair day - everyone notices."
Stacey believes there are opportunities available for anyone who works hard - man or woman and regardless of ethnicity. "Look at the increase of Asians and Hispanics. Not like when I first started and a black woman could never hope for more than a weekend job."
Stacey is a major Cavs fan. She's not a big baseball fan, but of course, loves the Indians. And she's a Browns fan, but "I have to admit I really like Tony Dungy [head coach of the Super Bowl Champion Indianapolis Colts]"
Bill Martin tells the story of Stacey's sister Stephanie.
"Every day at 5:10 she calls. We're on the air and the phone rings. And Stacey never puts it on vibrate, so it rings every day at ten after five."
Stacey doesn't deny it. "I don't think she really understands what I do. I tell her I'm on the air, but I'm not sure she gets it."
But Stacey won't tell any stories about her co-workers. "I have a lot of funny stories about people that I work with. But we have a rule, what happens in the newsroom, stays in the newsroom."
Fox 8 Anchors Bill Martin, Stacey Bell and Wilma Smith
She will let us in on one little secret "Bill [Martin] is actually very quiet in person, I will say that. So am I; I think that's why we get along so well."
Stacey and Bill's rapport is part of what makes the newscast so successful. People are genuinely interested in both of them.
She socializes with a lot of the people she works with especially since a lot of them are single. "Kathy Cochrane, Kevin Freeman - a lot of them. I also see Bill and his family. You spend a lot of hours with these people and it is nice to get to know them outside of work too."
Stacey Bell with friends
When Stacey leaves the station she goes home, washes off her makeup and puts on her flannels. Then she plays with Scooter, her dog, and watches re-runs of Frazier or the Golden Girls; "Just something to unwind."
Stacey's dog Scooter
But there is nothing boring about Stacey, on or off the air. She enjoys traveling. Among her favorite spots are Puerto Rico, Florence, Italy, and San Francisco and she absolutely loves New York.
Stacey is also a reader. Her most recent favorite is The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. It is the memoirs of a gossip columnist who lived a life full of hardships most people could not have overcome.
Stacey is also active in the community. She is involved in the Cleveland Scholarship Programs because providing an education for all children is of major importance to her.
In 2006 she co-sponsored a golf tournament with WMJI 105's Jimmy Malone to raise scholarship money. Stacey is committed to doing whatever she can to provide children the education they need. "There is no hope if there is no education."
Stacey says she is not much of a cook, although she does have a recipe in Cleveland Cooks! She says she tries to "whip up a little something on Sunday."
Her musical tastes are "all over the place." Anyone who has watched the broadcast knows she loves American Idol.
Stacey Bell with American Idol poster
Her favorite types of music are hip-hop and R&B, but depending on her mood she listens to just about everything. "I download everything from the soundtrack to "Wicked", to rap music to pop music".
Being human, Stacey has a few things that aggravate her. Top of the list is rude people; "people who say things behind your back but would never say them to your face." Also on the list is "People who can't drive."
More often than not, Stacey is happy and the list of things that bring her happiness is much longer then the things that make her angry.
Stacey is happiest when she comes home and sees Scooter, who, needless to say, is equally happy to see her.
Stacey and lucky dog Scooter
A good book, a glass of wine and a shared laugh with friends helps make a perfect day for her.
But most important of all is her relationship with God. Stacey is a spiritual person who knows she can sleep well at night "with a clear conscience."
Stacey has kept a journal for years and writes everything down in it. How interesting that book would be. She is a down-to-earth woman working in an industry of "over-the-top" excesses.
She is constantly in the public eye, but sleeps well at night knowing she has nothing to hide. She is an "anchor" in the true meaning of the word - she is grounded and secure in herself.
It is hard to believe it took her so long to realize how special she was. We all know it as soon as we hear her speak; she is like a friend telling us what we need to know, making us laugh, and feeling our pain.
Profiled by Debbie Hanson (1/07)
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