New Direction in '98 for TV's Robin Swaboda
By Betty J. Halliburton
With the New Year 
  comes a new chapter in the life of popular anchorwoman Robin Swoboda.
 
Swoboda is not making what you would call a New Year’s resolution. Instead, she is making a stronger commitment to be “the mother and wife that God has called me to be.” 

With that commitment comes the announcement that January 8th, 1998 is Swoboda’s last day as anchor on WJW ‘s “FOX 8 News” at 6:00 o’clock, a spot she has held since 1996 with Co-anchor Tim Taylor. 

For years, Swoboda, 39, has been one of the most well respected and admired anchors in Clevelandand one of my personal favorites. Known for her outgoing personality and sincere approach to news, shehas managed to keep a large following of viewers even after leaving the Cleveland market in 1991. Priorto that, Swoboda was with WJW from 1986 to 1991, when WJW was the CBS affiliate in town. 

“I’m leaving behind that instant gratification,” Swoboda says. “I am looking forward to the freedom 
of not having constraints put on my time.” 
Most of her time can now be spent with her husband of almost seven years, former NFL Punter Bryan 
Wagner and their three children; Mathew, 5, Hallie, 3 and Will, 2. 

Although her husband admits he has some “mixed emotions,” he says he supports her decision. “The upside is she’ll be home and will be the mom and wife that she is called to be. It’s a very special calling,” Wagner says. “She does things for them that I can’t. Moms are able to nurture in a better way. And God wants her to be at home.” 

On the day of our interview, Swoboda seemed very much at home in the kitchen. She had just whipped up a batch of spice cookies with cream cheese frosting. “I used cake mix instead of baking them from scratch,” She laughs. “A few years ago, I would have asked you to meet me at the Ritz or some 
place else.” Swoboda is now focusing on ways to make her house a place they can truly call a home. “I fantasize about being the Betty Crocker in a Norman Rockwell painting.’’ Swoboda laughs. But on a more serious note, Swoboda adds, “If I fail as a mom and wife, all of this has been for nothing.” 
At this point in her life it seems that nothing could stop her decision to leave the highly competitive 
news business. 

 “It was last March of 97, that I really felt that God was impressing it upon my heart to quit,” she 
says, adding, “I only work part-time. I would go in at 3:00 o’clock (in the afternoon) and I am home by 7:30.” Those accommodating hours also came with a yearly “six-digit” salary. 
Wagner, who is also venturing out into a new career as a financial consultant (he also writes a Sports column for Connection Magazine) says the substantial income that his wife brings in will be missed. But he stands by some very valuable advice given to him by a close friend. “Get out of the way and 
let God do it, Wagner says. “Let God take over. He will totally bless you and take over your house.” 

Swoboda believes in the power of prayer and says she was at a very vulnerable time in her life when she gave her life to Jesus Christ. “I became a Christian in 1989,” she recalls. “I was really searching.” Although she had started attending church, Swoboda admits she had been “searching” in some very unusual places such as New Age bookstores. Swoboda remembers the very special moment, she gave her life to Jesus Christ. “I was reading a scripture in Isaiah (1:18) that stated, “though your sins be as crimson, they shall be white as snow.” 
Swoboda continues, “and basically, I thought I was too bad for God to love me. I had done just terrible things and He could never ever love me. I mean it was just a miracle,” as she begins to cry. “ I remember this weight being lifted off of my shoulders in my bedroom on Lakeland Avenue in Lakewood. I was just so repentant, and I said God I’ll live your way from now on because I had really messed up.” Swoboda was at the height of her career as one of “Cleveland’s Own” with the WJW team of Tim Taylor, Meteorologist Dick Goddard and Sportscaster Casey Coleman when she began to seek God’s direction in every aspect of her life. She even sought God about a husband. “I said God, if there is somebody that you want me to meet 
you’re going to have to bring him to me because I can’t pick them anymore. I had been in abusive relationships, just everything you can name.” 

Wagner sums up their life in one sentence. “We’re a story in progress.” Their latest chapter that includes Swoboda’s decision to leave the news business to become a stay-at-home mom has finally come full circle.  “It’s always been in the back of mind,” she says. 

Over the years, Swoboda’s desire to have the best of both world’s, a family, and a television career has also weighed heavy on her heart .Back in 1991, she sent shock waves through Cleveland by announcing her departure from the local 
television market. Her husband had just signed with the New England Patriots after being cut by the former Cleveland 
Browns. Meanwhile, NBC in New York had approached Swoboda about doing a show called “Cover To Cover” with Oprah Winfrey’s best friend Gayle King, who is now hosting a syndicated show of her own. 

“I loved my job. I loved Cleveland. I loved Tim, Dick and Casey. I loved my life. Loved it. Well, after I told them no, Bryan and I prayed that if God really wanted me to do that (take the job) to open up a door,” Swoboda says. “And low and behold that very same day the vice president of NBC called and 
said I understand you told us no, and we really wish you would reconsider.” Swoboda said yes this time. “My last day, I sobbed. My body went numb on the air. I was just sick to leave.” 
 

Despite a great opportunity to be in the national spotlight, things got rough for the young couple. Three weeks into the football season, the Patriots cut Wagner from the roster. Swoboda was expecting their first child, and had developed an illness called Pregnancy Induced Asthma. 

“I remember praying, “Lord I just can’t take this anymore,” she recalls. “They had to put me on steroids. And they were talking about putting me in the hospital.” God answered Swoboda’s prayer. “Cover To Cover” was cancelled. “God’s hand was truly on me during that whole thing because I think I loved my job more than I could’ve loved my marriage and my child.” 
Swoboda, the eldest of four children, admits adjusting to the duties of motherhood wasn’t easy. “I was working since the time I was 18 years old,” She explains. “And my mother didn’t stay home with me so I didn’t know anything… I didn’t know what I was doing.” So she prayed that God would send her 
back to work. 

You guessed it. Swoboda got another offer to anchor the news for the NBC affiliate in Kansas City. The location was a plus for Swoboda because her hometown of St. Joseph, Missouri was just a few miles away. 

 Swoboda recalls the sickness that came over her when she signed the contract. “I knew I had made a big mistake.” 
The Lord was definitely dealing with Swoboda over her decision to go back to work. In God’s infinite wisdom, He used a cover of Time Magazine that showed a starving child from Somalia to speak to Swoboda’s heart. “There were flies all over their eyelashes,” Swoboda breaks into tears. “And there was something in the child’s mouth and I couldn’t figure out what it was, and I read the caption and it says a mother tries to nurse her child to keep the baby alive. It just killed me,” she says in 
a quivering voice. “Here I am working nine, ten, eleven hours a day, six days a week so I can buy clothes at Baby Gap ... and we can have a fine house.” Swoboda worked “a whole four months” before turning in her resignation. 

She says something good did come out of going to Kansas City. “God allowed me to touch people there through the whole thing,” she explains. “I got letters one after the other.” 
Swoboda vowed that she would not go back to work unless it was at WJW TV-8 in Cleveland. 

In the meantime, she had three years to adapt to her role as a full-time mother. “I loved it. I did. I would never be one of those moms who could pick up and go to the zoo, go to the museum and they go here and there. They’ve got the jamboree going,” Swoboda illustrates. “ I am the one that sits on the floor and plays with the toys and does wacky things and sing songs and dance around the kitchen floor while making nutritious peanut butter and honey sandwiches.” She says in a sarcastic voice. 

Then in 1996, the revolving door of opportunity opened up once again in Cleveland. Wilma Smith formally of ABC Affiliate WEWS was signed to do the 5 o’clock and 11 o’clock evening news on WJW. Anchorwoman Denise Dufula, who filled Swoboda’s old spot went over to WOIO, the new CBS affiliate. 
That left a cozy opportunity for Swoboda to slip back in as a part-timer doing one newscast a day. 

“At first it was real fun getting back to work. I work with some of the nicest people in the whole wide world,” she adds. “But it’s just not worth it.” 

Swoboda is now adjusting to her new role at home, but not before leaving some lasting impressions on her co-workers. “The thing that really stands out in my mind is her personality and wit,” “FOX 8 News” 

Anchor Wayne Dawson says. “She goes by her instincts and she is not afraid to take a chance. Not 
everybody could walk away from a job that so many people want.” 

But what Swoboda says she wants now more than ever is to be the mother, wife and vessel that Jesus 
has purposed her to be. As for her decision to leave the news business, Swoboda has one final remark. “If I had all of the 
success in the television industry, it would be for not. I’m done with storing up earthly treasures. I am looking forward to storing up treasures in heaven.” 
 

There’s no question that Robin Swoboda has a special calling and many gifts. She is one of God’s treasures in the kingdom. And because of her willingness to do God’s will, Swoboda will be even more successful as a wife, mother and yes, a woman