WGAL anchor Danielle Woods on following her dreams and the importance of representation in media


In 2014, as reporter for WJET-TV in Erie, Danielle Woods found herself stumbling over the name of a Pennsylvania town while recording a segment for the evening news.

It was a town she’d never heard of before but would soon call home: Lancaster.

“Do they really pronounce it like that?” Woods said she thought at the time. “I couldn’t even get it out of my mouth.”

And after her boss told her she’d pronounced it incorrectly, she recorded it again. That time, she said “Lancaster” just like a local would - LAN-kiss-tuhr.

A year later, she became quickly familiar with Lancaster after landing a job as traffic anchor for WGAL News 8.

“I got the job as traffic anchor, and, mind you, I am geographically challenged,” she said.

But since arriving in Lancaster County nearly six years ago, Woods, 32, has been moving up. She most recently became the weeknight anchor, replacing Ron Martin, who retired in December after spending 37 years with the station.

“Fortunately for her, she gets on the anchor desk at a young age; I didn’t get there until I was about 40,” Martin said. “I think there’s great things ahead for Danielle.”

Though Woods did not anticipate the transition from weekend anchor to weeknight, anchoring has always been her favorite aspect of the broadcasting business.

She becomes the second Black anchor, after Martin, in the weeknight role at WGAL.

“I’m usually not at a loss for words,” Woods said, after being informed of her new position. “But I was at a loss for words. I was just not expecting to hear that.”

At a time when Woods said she was feeling frustrated with her work, compromised by the pandemic, the new job was a much-needed step up.

Woods has not been able to officially start her position, as a direct result of COVID-19. For now, Woods and the additional WGAL News 8 staff work in rotations, anchoring multiple news hours several days of the week to limit the number of staffers in the studio at any given time. And as she anticipates the start of her new position, growing in recognition throughout the county, she has no plans of leaving Lancaster or her career in broadcasting anytime soon.