Remember Tracey Matisak? The former Fox 29 reporter and anchor will host a sold-out event at the Parkway Central Library of Philadelphia on Thursday with Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer in the history of American Ballet Theatre and author of Ballerina Body. We caught up with Matisak recently to see what she's been up to since she traded TV news for full-time motherhood. (Tap-dancing, as it turns out, among other things.)
I posted on social media that I was about to interview you, and a couple of my guy friends immediately asked me, "Is she single?"
(Laughter.) I'm flattered that they would ask, but I am not. I've been married for almost 26 years now and have three children.
My apologies to your husband, but I thought you'd get a kick out of that.
Yes, indeed. That does my heart good.
One of my female friends asked, "Where have you been?"
I'm still working, but in a very part-time sort of way. In addition to work for the Free Library, I also do some work for a company called Skillsoft, where I interview best-selling business authors for a corporate audience. I've been doing that about 15 years. And we shoot those webcasts all over the country. We go wherever the speaker lives.
I've also been moderating the Philadelphia Speakers Series at the Kimmel Center. I'm also on staff at my church, Keystone Fellowship [a contemporary church with four suburban campuses]. I work there a couple of days a week. Then, I've just been raising three kids, watching three kids grow up. My children are now 23, 22, and 19.
You did some work for WHYY, as well.
When I left Fox 29, I started to freelance at WHYY. I did a lot of different projects early on. For example, with the Ken Burns series, we might do some local programming around that and I would host that local programming. And then for a number of years, I filled in for Marty Moss-Coane on Radio Times, whenever she would take a vacation or a much-needed day off. I did that for a number of years.
But all of the freelance work I'm doing now, really, had its roots at WHYY. My husband and I often say that "All roads lead back to WHYY" because so many great opportunities came from being a part of what they are doing there.
Let's talk about next week's event at the Free Library featuring Misty Copeland.
I am really excited to meet her and to interview her, for a lot of reasons. One, because she's a dancer and I've always had a love of dance all my life. So I admire her in that respect.
She has broken barriers on a number of levels, and I admire and respect her for that. And just from what I've read of her new book, she seems like a very down-to-earth, approachable person who is interested in helping people live their best life.
I hear you have a bit of a dancing background yourself.
Yes, I actually started dancing when I was, probably, a preschooler. I started with ballet, and I started tap-dancing when I was around 8 years old. I did that all through high school — in fact, I was one of the teachers at the studio.
I recently got back into it. Just in the last six months or so, I started going to some classes locally. Now that my kids are grown, I thought it would be fun to get back into tap dancing a little bit. So, I've taken some classes with the Lady Hoofers. They have master classes [Sundays at the Performance Garage near 15th and Spring Garden Street] that are open to the public.
I've taken classes at a couple other studios. It's been great fun to get back into it. And, you know, I've missed it.
What made you leave Fox?
My children were 6, 4, and 2 when I left. I made the decision after doing Good Day Philadelphia. The hours were really tough. I was leaving for work at 3 in the morning, and I had three very young children. I just came to a point where I said, "I can raise my children or I can do this job, but I can't do both well." And I didn't want to have someone else raise my kids.
So it was a choice I made and I was blessed to be in a position to make that choice. They grow up fast.
Not really. You always look back and wonder, "What would have happened if I had stayed?" or, "Where would I have ended up?" But, honestly, when I think about the blessing of being able to watch my kids grow up and be part of their lives -- to go to their games and participate in their activities, you can't get that back. I wouldn't trade it.