Over the years, thousands of CBC employees have worked tirelessly behind the scenes; they never appeared on TV or radio, but they were all instrumental in the success of the company. The same goes for the countless people who were interviewed in news stories, helped us with community outreach, or simply supported CBC in their own unique way.
This section of the CBC History website recognizes our employees, partners and friends. While certainly not an exhaustive list, here are some of the people who made Capitol Broadcasting Company what it is today.
CBC can trace much of its success to the founders and leaders of the company. Decades ago, CBC’s founders had the foresight to see the future and the courage to act. They were the pioneers who took the risks that ultimately paid off over time. The company has also been blessed with dynamic leaders who set high standards and demanded excellence and innovation along the path to success.
Here are the stories of the people who founded and led Capitol Broadcasting Company:
Alfred Johnston “A.J.” Fletcher is the founder of Capitol Broadcasting Company. He and a small group of partners formed the company in 1937 with hopes of winning a license to operate a radio station in Raleigh. They were successful and ever since that simple start years ago Fletcher’s company has grown into one of the premier communications organizations in the nation.
A.J. Fletcher learned the value of hard work at an early age. Born in 1887 to a Baptist minister in Ashe County, NC, Fletcher spent his formative years working as a stable boy, bank clerk, bellhop, delivery boy for a grocery store and an attendant at a fruit stand.
Fletcher’s first brush with the communications business came early; as a law student at Wake Forest College he ran out of money for school and began running the small weekly paper in Apex. He served as news reporter, editor, ad solicitor and publisher, working every angle as a one man show.
In 1910 Fletcher married Elizabeth Utley and took the $900 he had saved working at the paper to return to school. He never graduated from college but learned enough law to join the bar and run his own practice as an attorney.
He founded the Fuquay Springs Gold Leaf weekly newspaper and invested the money he earned at law and the paper in a variety of interests. Radio Corporation of America was one such company that caught his attention.
In 1919, Fletcher moved his young family to Raleigh. He and Elizabeth had three sons—Fred, Frank and Floyd–and added a daughter, Betty Lou, three years later. He looked for new pursuits in the Capitol City while he continued to practice law and publish the weekly newspaper.
By the late 1930’s Fletcher’s son Frank had followed his father into the practice of law and was among the first group of lawyers hired by the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, DC.
Because of A.J. Fletcher’s interest in music and business and Frank’s encouraging reports from Washington, DC on the new medium of radio, Fletcher and his partners applied to the federal government for a radio license. On July 28, 1938, the FCC granted their request to operate station WRAL on 1240 kilohertz with power of 250 watts. WRAL-AM signed on the air on March 29, 1939, with NC Governor Clyde Hoey and Raleigh Mayor George Isley issuing welcoming addresses.
A.J. Fletcher wasn’t content to just own radio stations—his interest in television had already been piqued shortly before WRAL-AM went on the air. He and his eldest son, Fred, saw a demonstration of television at the RCA booth at the 1939 World’s Fair. When the television industry began taking off in the early 1950s, Fletcher was ready to take on a new challenge. At the customary retirement age of 65, A.J. Fletcher began a legendary battle in Washington, DC to win the first VHF television license for Raleigh.
After a grueling three-year competitive application process, Fletcher’s Capitol Broadcasting team beat out heavily-favored Durham Life Insurance Company and won the license for VHF channel 5 in Raleigh. On December 15, 1956 – WRAL-TV signed on the air as an NBC affiliate in the state’s capitol city. A.J. Fletcher’s hard work had paid off.
A.J. Fletcher had a wide variety of non-broadcasting interests, but remained particularly devoted to opera. Himself a bass singer and avid performer, he formed the National Grass Roots Opera Foundation in 1948. He wanted to make opera available and accessible to the public and also sought to provide young artists with professional careers. As a result of the Foundation, more than two million North Carolina school children heard opera sung in English. The Grass Roots Opera Foundation eventually evolved into the National Opera Company and later the Fletcher School of Performing Arts.
A.J. Fletcher’s many personal philanthropic efforts included grants to churches, orchestras, the Baptist State Convention, Duke University, East Carolina University and Southeastern Theological Seminary. In 1961 he founded the non-profit A.J. Fletcher Foundation to carry on cultural and educational outreach. The Fletcher Foundation has blossomed into one of the state’s leading philanthropic organizations, focusing on education, human service and poverty programs, and new and emerging non-profit groups across the state.
Not only did A.J. Fletcher launch WRAL-TV, he designed the station’s landmark azalea gardens that opened to the public in 1959. “It was simply my way of paying tribute to beauty for beauty’s sake,” said Fletcher, who loved azaleas and enjoyed finding new varieties for the property. In 1974, Fletcher received a national award from the American Association of Nurserymen for the design of his beloved gardens.
Fletcher was the recipient of many other honors and awards. In 1975 he was elected to the North Carolina Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. Also in 1975 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by Duke University. And in 1978 he received the North Carolina Public Service Award from the Pfeiffer College Alumni Association.
A.J. Fletcher died April 1, 1979 at the age of 91.
Barbara Lyons Goodmon is President of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which is the charitable fund created by the founder of Capitol Broadcasting Company.
Goodmon graduated from St. Joseph’s School of Nursing in Memphis, TN in 1965. It was there in Memphis that she met Jim Goodmon—CBC’s President and CEO. The couple married and moved to Raleigh in 1968.
In addition to her leadership role at the Fletcher Foundation, Barbara Goodmon has served on a number of community boards in the Triangle. With primary interests in the field of human services, she has served as Chairman of the Salvation Army, Vice Chairman of The Healing Place of Wake County, and Chairman of Wake County Human Services.
Barbara Goodmon is a 1994 graduate of Meredith College in Raleigh, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in History. She also earned a Masters of Liberal Studies degree at North Carolina State University in 2000. She received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Barton College in 2009.
Goodmon has received numerous honors, including the William Booth Award from the Salvation Army. She was inducted into the Academy of Women of the Raleigh YWCA and–along with husband Jim–was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2008.
Barbara and Jim Goodmon have three children: Elizabeth, Jimmy and Michael, along with seven grandchildren.
No one had more impact on the birth of Capitol Broadcasting Company than Frank Fletcher, the middle son of CBC founder A.J.Fletcher.
Frank Utley Fletcher grew up in Raleigh, but left home after college to make a name for himself as an attorney in Washington DC. In 1934 he went to work as one of the first staff attorneys at the FCC–a new federal agency set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to oversee the nation’s growing communications industries.
Fletcher rose swiftly through the ranks and performed virtually every legal job available at the FCC. He became an expert in station licensing procedures and saw firsthand that the business of broadcasting offered great promise and potential.
With that knowledge in hand, Frank Fletcher was instrumental in convincing his father to get into broadcasting. He first assisted in obtaining an FCC license for WRAL-AM in Raleigh and later played critical roles in securing the licenses for WRAL-FM and WRAL-TV.
It’s fair to say that Capitol Broadcasting Company might not exist at all if not for the astute knowledge and persuasive efforts of Frank Fletcher.
Frank left the FCC in 1939 to join Spearman and Roberson—a new communications law firm in the nation’s capital. He took a leave of absence to serve as a legal officer in the Army during World War II, but returned to private practice at the end of the war.
Frank’s reputation as a trial lawyer spread throughout the D.C. Bar and broadcast industry and it wasn’t long before he was serving clients large and small in the communications industry. The law firm’s name was eventually changed to Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, and Frank served as Chair of the firm until his retirement in 1985.
Frank Fletcher dominated the communications law profession for fifty years. He served as President of the Federal Communications Bar Association, President of the Broadcast Pioneers, a Director of the National Association of Broadcasters and on the Board of Visitors of the Wake Forest Law School.
In 1995 Wake Forest Law established the “Frank U. Fletcher Professorship in Administrative Law” in his honor. Fletcher also served as a Trustee of Shaw University, which awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws.
In 1986 Frank Fletcher was inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, joining his father and brother Fred in the ranks of honorees.
Fletcher devoted the final years of his life to philanthropy, providing counsel to the A.J. Fletcher Foundation and its charitable efforts.
Frank U. Fletcher died July 23, 1995 at the age of 83.
Fred Fletcher was a broadcast executive, entertainer and public servant who — as General Manager of WRAL-AM, WRAL-FM and WRAL-TV — helped shape the first quarter century at Capitol Broadcasting Company.
The eldest son of CBC founder A.J. Fletcher — Fred’s on-air talent, marketing savvy and community spirit made him a perfect fit for the company’s early ventures into broadcasting.
Fred helped launch WRAL-AM in 1939 and soon made a name for himself as the host of a daily talk show called “Tempus Fugit.” Fred would entertain, inform and hold forth with a cast of characters that included his most memorable persona –the lovable “Fairy Tale Man.” During every show Fred would transform into a master storyteller to read the classics from the Brothers Grimm. He was the proverbial one-man-band who created his own sound effects and made up the voices of all the characters. Listeners young and old loved it, and before long “Tempus Fugit” was the top-ranked show in its time period.
Fred Fletcher grew up in North Carolina, but left for college in the Midwest. He earned an undergraduate degree from George Williams College in Chicago and then went to work at a YMCA in South Chicago. Along the way he fell in love with Marjorie “Marjie” Lempke, and they were married in 1936. The young Fletchers soon moved to North Carolina, where Fred earned Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Only then—in 1939–did he turn his attention to his father’s new business – a radio station known as WRAL-AM.
Fred started as WRAL-AM’s Education Director and then moved up to General Manager in 1942. Later he took on additional management duties when CBC signed WRAL-FM on the air in 1946.
The 1950s brought television, and the long, arduous legal battle that eventually won Capitol Broadcasting the coveted license for Channel 5 in Raleigh. Fred was an integral part of the CBC team that fought for and won the license at the FCC.
When WRAL-TV signed on in December 1956 – Fred Fletcher was at the helm as the first Vice President and General Manager. He was later named President of Capitol Broadcasting Company–a title he held until his retirement in 1975.
Fred Fletcher always had an entrepreneurial spirit and his professional career was marked by a series of firsts. Among them, creation in 1954 of the first network of shortwave radio operators to collect and disseminate hurricane information under emergency conditions; creation of the Tobacco Radio Network, which was the first radio news and sports network in North Carolina; and the hiring of the first African-American morning radio host (JD Lewis) in the Deep South.
Fred also started the UCP telethon on WRAL-TV and went on the air each year to personally raise thousands of dollars in the fight against Cerebral Palsy.
From his beginnings with the YMCA in Chicago, Fred Fletcher maintained a deep affection for recreational groups and facilities. One of his favorite events was the annual holiday celebration for the Golden Age clubs at the Raleigh Parks & Recreation department. Fred created the event that grew from less than a hundred attendees to more than a thousand each year. The Golden Years Celebration still thrives each December at the Raleigh Convention Center.
Fred was a devoted public servant. He was elected to Raleigh’s first City Council in 1947 and served Raleigh and Wake County for more than 50 years as a member of various Parks and Recreation commissions. He served as chair of the boards for more than 30 of those years.
In recognition of that service, the City of Raleigh honored Fred by naming a park on Glenwood Avenue after him. In 1985 he was awarded the National Parks & Recreation Association’s “Robert M. Artz Award” for Citizen Volunteer Leadership. In 2007 he was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame.
Fred Fletcher was also active in the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and served as President of the organization in 1963. The NCAB honored him in 1982 by inducting him into its Hall of Fame.
Fred Fletcher – CBC’s beloved “Fairy Tale Man” — died January 8, 2000 after a long illness. He was 89.
James Fletcher “Jim” Goodmon literally grew up in the broadcast industry. He was so young when he first went to work at WRAL-TV that he had to be paid from petty cash so as not to run afoul of wage and hour standards.
Jim Goodmon learned the business of broadcasting at the knee of his grandfather A.J. Fletcher—founder of Capitol Broadcasting Company. Goodmon observed station operations carefully and learned well, and in turn–A.J. Fletcher recognized his grandson’s potential. This close, early relationship laid the groundwork for the future leadership of the company.
Jim Goodmon grew up in Raleigh and graduated from Broughton High School in 1961. He attended Duke University, but left for the Navy in 1965 before obtaining a degree. While serving his enlistment in Memphis, Tennessee, he met and married Barbara Lyons. The couple soon moved to Raleigh.
Upon his return to North Carolina in 1968, Goodmon was named Operations Manager at WRAL-TV. In 1973 he took on corporate responsibilities as Executive Vice President of Capitol Broadcasting Company. In 1975 he became CBC’s President, and in 1979 he was named President and Chief Executive Officer of the company, the position he holds today.
During his 49-year career Jim Goodmon has guided the growth of CBC’s broadcast holdings and led the company’s expansion into satellite communications, new media, real estate and professional sports.
Known as a trailblazer and a pioneer, Goodmon explores new technology with passion and energy—always seeking out the latest and best methods of serving audiences, clients and community partners.
He holds a fierce dedication to the public interest, and all CBC divisions not only meet but exceed industry requirements and standards. In 1998 he was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters. Known as the Gore Commission, this prestigious panel recommended public interest obligations for American broadcasters as they made the transition to digital television.
Goodmon led CBC and its stations into the digital age, gaining industry-wide recognition as a visionary whose stations constantly pushed the boundaries of technology. In 1996 the FCC granted the nation’s first experimental HDTV license to WRAL-TV, which was the first in a long line of CBC technological achievements in the field of high definition television.
Jim Goodmon’s interests go well beyond broadcasting. Under his leadership, Capitol Broadcasting Company has expanded into real estate—developing the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham and turning it into an award-winning example of entrepreneurial restoration.
Durham is also home to another CBC-owned icon, the Durham Bulls. Jim Goodmon has always loved baseball, and in the early 1990s CBC took over the most famous franchise in minor league baseball history. Under CBC ownership the Bulls have won championships, risen to Triple-A status, and set attendance records at the state-of-the-art ballpark that has become a centerpiece in downtown Durham.
Whether it’s broadcasting, real estate, new media or professional sports–Jim Goodmon is at the forefront of the industry. His leadership is based on principle, vision and a strong commitment to the community, and those ideals inspire the divisions of Capitol Broadcasting Company each and every day.
Goodmon has also been instrumental in the success of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, a charitable fund that donates millions of dollars annually to organizations throughout North Carolina. The Fletcher Foundation supports programs that foster care for the elderly, infirm and indigent. It also provides funding for initiatives in Education, the Arts, Public Recreation, Communication Arts, and Religious Faith. Jim serves as the Foundation’s Chairman of the Board.
Jim is the recipient of numerous awards and honors:
• Named 2003 Tar Heel of the Year by The News &Observer of Raleigh. The newspaper gave Jim the honor “because of his involvement and influence in two arenas: the redevelopment of Durham’s American Tobacco complex and the national debate about how many television and radio stations a single media company should be allowed to own.”
• Inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2003. The Hall recognizes and honors people who have made significant contributions to the broadcast industry over an extended time.
• The Nashville/Midsouth Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presented Jim with the Governor’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2000 for his contributions to the community and outstanding achievements in broadcasting.
• DTV Pioneer Award. Presented by Broadcasting & Cable magazine, this award recognized Jim’s leadership role and achievements in the advancement of digital television.
• Inducted into the North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997.
• Inducted along with wife Barbara into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2008. This recognized the Goodmons’ service to the Raleigh community and their work with the Fletcher Foundation, the Healing Place of Wake County and other groups providing hope to the less fortunate.
Jim Goodmon holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Pfeiffer College and Duke University. He serves on the boards of many organizations across the Triangle and state.
Jim and Barbara Goodmon have three children: Elizabeth, Jimmy and Michael, along with ten grandchildren.
James F. Goodmon, Jr. (“Jimmy”) is a life-long broadcaster with a passion for the business. Starting as a camera operator for the 5AM news at 16 years old, his career path has spanned a multitude of television and radio station functions. From promotions, programming, and operations to selling radio and television advertising, he has spent his career working in various roles at multiple Capitol Broadcasting Company entities.
In March of 2005, Goodmon assumed responsibility of CBC New Media Group at Capitol Broadcasting Company, serving as its Vice President & General Manager. At CBC New Media Group he has developed a successful vision and strategy for emerging media business opportunities.
Specifically, Goodmon and the CBC New Media Group are charged with managing WRAL.com, Capitol’s digital channel initiatives including three MDTV channels, and Albright Digital, a digital solutions provider that aids car dealers with Internet marketing.
Goodmon also successfully developed and spun out News Over Wireless (now StepLeader, Inc.), a mobile solutions provider that powers mobile platforms for over 300 TV and radio stations across the country.
In his role he also oversees strategic acquisitions and investments and start up projects for the company. In addition to digital initiatives, Goodmon serves as Vice President & General Manager of Sunrise Broadcasting, a five-radio-station cluster, and WILM-TV–both located in Wilmington, NC. He also oversees WRAL-FM and Microspace Communications–both located in Raleigh, NC.
Before his role with the New Media Group, Goodmon served as Director of Programming for WRAL-TV/DT, evaluating and negotiating syndicated program purchases, coordinating program planning with the CBS Network, monitoring station compliance with regulatory requirements, and supervising non-news, local program development, branding, and placement.
During 2002/2003 and 2003/2004, he organized and executed the production and broadcast of 24 Carolina Hurricanes hockey games in High-Definition.
Goodmon is a member of Capitol Broadcasting’s Board of Directors and serves on the company’s Executive Committee. He also serves on the Executive Committee of the Mobile 500 Alliance.
In addition to his broadcast interests, Goodmon is very active in the community and serves on the Advisory Board to the Salvation Army, where he is co-chair of the Salvation Army’s $12 Million Center of Hope Campaign. He also serves on the Director Boards for the Achievement School, the Fletcher Foundation, Wells Fargo Central Region, and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. Goodmon also serves on the Advisory Boards to the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, StepUp Ministry, Wake Health Services and Band Together.
He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and earned his M.B.A. at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.
Goodmon resides in Raleigh with his wife Anna and his three sons Fletcher, Watson and Walker.
Broadcast executive John Greene served Capitol Broadcasting Company for more than three decades – steering WRAL-TV through the pivotal 1980’s when the CBC flagship gained national recognition as one of the most dominant and decorated local television stations in the country.
Greene grew up in Shelby, NC and paid his way through UNC-Chapel Hill working in radio news. After graduation in 1966 he joined WBTV-TV in Charlotte as a News Reporter. He was promoted through the ranks as Producer, Managing Editor and News and Information Manager for WBT Radio and WBTV.
In 1973, Greene moved into station management as Station Operations Manager for WWBT-TV, the Jefferson-Pilot Broadcasting facility in Richmond. Three years later he received a job offer from longtime colleague Fred Barber, who had just been hired to lead WRAL’s management team. Greene accepted the offer and joined WRAL-TV in 1976 as Station Operations Manager. For the next three years he teamed with Barber to put a lasting imprint on the WRAL operation.
Greene brought new standards of excellence to WRAL and helped propel the news operation to unprecedented ratings success. He also instilled a spirit of creativity that led the station to many industry firsts. In 1979 Greene was instrumental in the launch of SKY5, which made WRAL the first station in North Carolina with a fulltime helicopter dedicated to newsgathering. The station also broke new ground in 1984 with the acquisition of LiveStar 5 – the state’s first KU-band transportable uplink vehicle.
Greene was named WRAL-TV’s Vice President and General Manager in late 1979. In 1984 he took on corporate responsibilities when he was promoted to Senior Vice President of the company. In that expanded role Greene continued direct management of WRAL-TV, but oversaw CBC’s three other television stations as well.
In 1990 Greene left WRAL-TV to become a lecturer at the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication. However he maintained ties to Capitol Broadcasting as a consultant to CBC President Jim Goodmon.
In 1994 Greene rejoined the company fulltime as CBC’s Vice President of Special Projects. His assignments included new business development, consulting and lobbying at the state and federal levels. One of his primary missions was to help shape the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Over the next decade John Greene also played an integral role in CBC’s groundbreaking efforts with digital television (DTV) and High Definition Television (HDTV). He supervised the completion of WRAL-HD, the nation’s first commercial digital television station.
John Greene retired from CBC in 2009, not long after WRAL and the rest of the nation’s television stations made the historic transition from analog to digital transmission. His career with Capitol Broadcasting spanned more than three decades.
Greene earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1966 and graduated at the top of his class in the School of Journalism. He has served as a member of the Board of Visitors and Journalism Board of Visitors at UNC. Greene has also served on the boards of North Carolina Central University and Gardner-Webb University.
In 2007 John Greene was honored by industry colleagues who inducted him into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The honor recognized his career-long contributions to the broadcast industry in North Carolina. Greene is a Past President of the NCAB and received the 1993 Distinguished Service Award from the organization.
Greene founded and chaired “Save Our Sounds, Inc.” – a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to coastal preservation. In 1994 he was named by Governor Jim Hunt to chair the “Year of the Coast” committee to develop a long-range environmental plan for the North Carolina coast. He has also served on a number of other state coastal planning committees.
Greene is married and the father of two children. He lives in Raleigh and enjoys sailing, fishing and tennis.
Michael Goodmon leads one of the country’s most dynamic urban mixed-use developments–the American Tobacco Campus in Durham.
As Vice President of Real Estate for Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc.–the campus’ owner and master developer–Michael manages the day-to-day activities of approximately 1,000,000 square feet of Class-A office, restaurant, residential and retail space. He scopes and develops new projects and opportunities including the American Underground startup hub (two locations in Durham, one in Raleigh) as well as solar/alternative energy real estate investments.
Michael earned a B.S. in Mathematical Economics from Hampden-Sydney College and a Masters in Trust and Investment Management from Campbell University.
Goodmon is an advocate and leader of the Durham and Triangle communities and serves on several boards to encourage growth, entrepreneurship and community development. These boards include: AJ Fletcher Foundation; Fletcher Academy; Frank Hawkins Kenan Board of Advisors; East Durham Children’s Initiative; Healing Place of Wake County; Downtown Durham, Inc.; NC Rails to Trails; CAHEC; and Leadership Triangle.
Louise “Scottie” Stephenson worked at Capitol Broadcasting Company longer than anyone in history. Stephenson spent 58 years at CBC, serving the last forty-nine as Corporate Secretary and as a member of the company’s Board of Directors.
Scottie was hired at WRAL-AM Radio in 1944, where she wrote ad copy, answered phones, posted the daily casualty list during WWII, gathered birth announcements from the local hospital and became the “Lost & Found” lady on Fred Fletcher’s morning show.
Stephenson never went to college but was a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge. She could do it all: when an accountant was needed, she balanced the books; when reports had to be filed with the FCC, she studied the detailed requirements and submitted the information with perfection.
“I don’t know how we could have done what we’ve done without Scottie Stephenson,” said CBC President & CEO Jim Goodmon.
Following her radio days, Scottie’s role with the company expanded when Capitol Broadcasting set its sights on television. She was the only female on the five-person team that won the FCC license for WRAL-TV in the early 1950s.
Stephenson helped research and gather a veritable mountain of documents for WRAL’s application—3,000 pages in all. During the arduous 75-day hearing in Washington, DC she underwent hours of grueling questioning and never flinched. In the end, Scottie Stephenson was instrumental in Capitol Broadcasting winning the Channel 5 license and coming home victorious.
Once the license was won, Scottie set out to organize the new station’s workforce. She was the first person on the station payroll and by the time WRAL-TV went on the air in 1956, she had created job descriptions for almost every position. As WRAL’s startup staff was hired, Scottie worked wherever she was needed—serving as Administrative Assistant to the President and taking on temporary positions in the Traffic, Sales and Personnel departments.
Scottie used her newly-attained regulatory knowledge to become the station’s in-house FCC expert. She was responsible for all FCC filings, a cumbersome task that included reams of paperwork and technical detail.
Stephenson made an impact on the community as well, working as an advocate for the arts and the underprivileged. She spent 16 years on the board of the Tammy Lynn Center for profoundly and severely retarded children. She volunteered for the Raleigh Fine Arts Society and the North Carolina Symphony and chaired the Communications Committee of the Raleigh Junior Women’s Club.
One of her favorite projects was the Raleigh Golden Years Annual Holiday Celebration at the Convention Center. Scottie coordinated the festivities for over four decades and saw the luncheon grow from 50 to over 1,500 people.
Scottie received many accolades during her career, including Business and Professional Woman of the Year by the YWCA. She was also the charter recipient of the Junior Women’s Club Outstanding Working Member award. The Raleigh Little Theatre even named its outdoor amphitheater after her to honor years of service to the organization.
As Stephenson’s years at the company grew, CBC had to create gifts to recognize her record-setting tenure at the annual long-term employees’ luncheon. She so far outranked others in longevity that the company presented her with several unique rewards, including a marked parking space near the building entrance.
After Scottie’s death, CBC President Jim Goodmon permanently affixed her name to a parking spot at company headquarters on Western Boulevard; it was a reminder of her legacy and contributions. Goodmon said he wanted future employees to always ask, “Who is Scottie Stephenson?” and thus learn her story of determination, quality and excellence.
Louise “Scottie” Stephenson died April 15, 2002 after a brief illness. She was 80.
As the owner of radio and television stations, Capitol Broadcasting Company has been home to many well-known “stars” that informed and entertained audiences through the years. A few of those standouts rose above stardom, however; they became icons—performers whose legacies deserve special recognition.
Here are their stories:
Known as “The Biggest Name in Weather,” Bob DeBardelaben was one of WRAL-TV’s best known on-air personalities, gaining fame as the primary weather anchor of the station’s dominant “Action News 5” broadcasts.
DeBardelaben was born in Buffalo, NY, but moved to Greensboro, NC at age 11. Following tours in the Merchant Marine and US Navy he enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill. That’s where he discovered a talent for broadcasting and he soon switched his major to communications.
Following graduation from UNC, DeBardelaben landed a job at WTIK-AM, a Durham radio station owned in part by Floyd Fletcher, son of Capitol Broadcasting founder AJ Fletcher. From Durham, Bob moved on to on-air and management positions at a series of radio stations outside North Carolina.
In 1959, DeBardelaben was lured to Raleigh to work for an AM station that would soon revolutionize the local radio market. The station was WKIX, which became one of the most popular and successful radio outlets in the South.
As one of the early “KIX Men,” Bob handled on-air shifts under the name “Bob Kelly.” Listeners grew familiar with the station “jingle” that introduced him: “Time for the Bob Kelly Show, time for the man on the go!” Bob also created a signature sign-off phrase that many remembered years after his KIX days: “This is Mrs. Kelly’s little bald-headed boy, Rapid Robert!”
As DeBardelaben’s success grew, Capitol Broadcasting management was paying attention, and a job offer was eventually extended. Bob joined CBC in 1966 as a sales rep for Tobacco Radio Network. He began voicing commercials and handling a variety of on-air and off-air jobs, and by the late 60s he was doing the morning show on WRAL-FM.
It wasn’t long before DeBardelaben’s talents would move to the world of television, where he gained instant popularity as the host of “Dialing for Dollars,” a daily quiz program on WRAL-TV. Bob would spin a big wheel, make random phone calls and challenge viewers to win money if they could recite “the count and the amount” of the contest totals at that particular moment.
Bob’s popularity continued to grow, and in 1976 his career was forever changed when he was named the primary weathercaster of WRAL-TV’s weekday newscasts. DeBardelaben replaced long-time weatherman Bob Caudle, who was focusing on a growing career as a wrestling announcer.
DeBardelaben and Caudle joined forces in a series of satirical promotions that announced the on-air change. The campaign was dubbed “As the Weather Turns,” and featured appearances by a wide variety of characters, including CBC executive Jim Goodmon and professional wrestler “Black Jack” Mulligan.
Bob wasted little time making a big name for himself in weather. Although he wasn’t a trained forecaster, he adapted quickly and spent hours learning from the friendly meteorologists at the local weather bureau.
Despite his growing weather knowledge, Bob admits he never had a great grasp of US geography, so he resorted to his own version of cue cards. Bob couldn’t remember all the state names and locations, but the WRAL weather map was large enough so he could lightly pencil in each state’s initials and readily identify them on air. Bob smoothly and accurately referenced all the states in his weathercasts and loyal viewers never knew the difference!
In 1984 Bob traveled to New York City for a guest role on the ABC soap opera “Ryan’s Hope.” It was all part of a promotion between ABC and WRAL, and Bob played the role of an underworld “heavy.” He spoke only three lines, but he remembers them to this day: “Well, well, look who’s here;” “Isn’t that John’s girlfriend?” and “That girl better watch it!”
Bob was always up for a weather stunt, as well. In the mid-80s he broadcast the weather one evening from a platform near the top of WRAL’s 2,000-foot tower. All went well, but when he came back down after the newscast he kissed the ground and said “never again!”
DeBardelaben retired in 1989 at age 62. Always an avid golfer, he says he wanted to spend more time on the links.
In 2006, Bob DeBardelaben returned to the WRAL studios to take part in a reunion newscast to mark the station’s 50th anniversary. He joined newscasters Charlie Gaddy and Bobbie Battista and sportscaster Tom Suiter in a memorable newscast that reminded viewers of one of the most successful on-air teams in history.
For years after he retired, Bob was still recognized in public, and when complete strangers wandered up to ask “aren’t you Bob DeBardelaben?” he had a ready answer: “Yes, I used to be!”
Bob DeBardelaben died October 6, 2014 following a brief illness. He was 88.
Charlie Gaddy is the legendary WRAL-TV newscaster whose reassuring, conversational anchor style led viewers to call him “the Walter Cronkite of North Carolina television.”
Gaddy spent two decades as the primary anchor of WRAL’s evening newscasts–dominating audience ratings, winning awards, and becoming one of the most successful local news anchors in television history.
Charles Reece Gaddy was born in the small Sandhills town of Biscoe, North Carolina on September 17, 1931. His father worked for Carolina Power & Light, and when Charlie grew old enough, he worked summers for the power company climbing poles and doing odd-jobs.
Charlie earned his degree at Guilford College and was almost immediately drafted into the Army. He spent two years in the service and then moved to Washington, DC with the idea of going to law school. After a half semester, he knew the law profession was not for him, so he withdrew from classes and started looking for a job in the nation’s capital.
It turns out Gaddy had always been a natural on the dance floor, so he signed on as an instructor with Arthur Murray Studios to make ends meet. Charlie taught ballroom classes and excelled on the dance floor, but after fulfilling a one-year contract his interests turned to a craft that had inspired him as a child – broadcasting.
Charlie says that as a youngster during World War II he sat spellbound on his front porch listening to Edward R. Murrow’s news reports from Europe. He remembers imagining what it would be like to sit in front of a microphone and have people listen to him.
With that memory fresh in mind, Gaddy began knocking on doors of the major networks in Washington. He went to ABC first and CBS next and was turned down both places. His last chance was NBC, and as luck would have it, he found an entry-level opening for a network page. Charlie took the job and started learning the business from the ground up.
Charlie worked hard and moved up the ranks. As an assistant director he held cue cards for Nikita Khrushchev when the Russian premier delivered a speech from NBC’s studios. He also interacted with brothers John and Robert Kennedy as JFK prepared to run for president.
By the time Gaddy left NBC he had worked his way up to staff announcer for the network, a position that answered his boyhood dream and gave him the chance to speak on a microphone and have people listen.
During his time at NBC, Charlie met a beautiful colleague by the name of Nancy Rankin. The two fell in love and were married September 3, 1960. Almost immediately they moved to Raleigh, where Charlie had just been offered a job at WPTF-AM, the most powerful and prestigious radio station in the state.
Gaddy spent ten years at WPTF and became extremely popular hosting the “Ask Your Neighbor” show, a folksy call-in program that featured Charlie helping callers solve problems, trade stories and answer life’s questions large and small.
Across town the managers at WRAL-TV were paying close attention as Gaddy’s popularity rose, and in 1970 they hired him to host a television version of his radio show on Channel 5. It was called “Good Morning, Charlie,” and featured Charlie in a familiar role–taking phone calls, interviewing guests and celebrities, even singing the occasional song as part of the day’s entertainment.
Once on television Gaddy’s popularity grew even more and once again WRAL management saw an opportunity. In 1974, Charlie Gaddy was named primary news anchor on WRAL-TV, a position that would make him the face of the station for the next twenty years.
Success came in short order and by the late ‘70s Charlie, Bobbie Battista, Bob DeBardelaben and Rich Brenner formed one of the most heralded anchor teams in local television history. At one point the Gaddy-led newscast commanded 50% of the television audience in the Triangle–one of the highest-rated news programs in the nation.
Charlie Gaddy was best known as a news anchorman, but over the years he also reported from the field on numerous major stories. He left the studio to cover the deadly Raleigh tornadoes in 1988 along with hurricanes and elections. He traveled to Normandy, Saudi Arabia, China, Honduras, and Plymouth, England for special reports and live coverage of major events.
Gaddy also had important off-camera responsibilities, serving as Senior Editor of WRAL-TV News for many years. He mentored countless young news people during that time, teaching them how to gather and report news accurately, fairly and in a professional fashion.
Charlie Gaddy retired from WRAL-TV after twenty years as the station’s lead anchor. His last newscast came on July 1, 1994, and as he signed off for the last time, Charlie quoted lyrics from an old favorite song, saying “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when; but I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.”
Charlie Gaddy has been honored numerous times. Following his retirement he was named to the prestigious Silver Circle by the MidSouth Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts & Sciences. In 1994 he was inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. And also in 1994 Pembroke State University presented Gaddy with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
During his WRAL years Charlie hosted the annual telethon for United Cerebral Palsy and helped raise millions of dollars for the organization. Shortly after his retirement, “The Charlie Gaddy Center for Children” was named in his honor in Raleigh. This child development center serves youngsters through age five, helping them reach their full potential with child care, language development, occupational and physical therapy.
Charlie Gaddy was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2012. The award honored his career at WRAL plus his community service, especially his work on behalf of children through groups like UCP and the Children’s Miracle Network.
Charlie has also served as Vice Chair of the advisory board of the Duke Eye Center. His interest in the Eye Center goes back to childhood when his father was diagnosed with glaucoma.
Following retirement Charlie authored the biography of Dr. Leroy Walker, legendary track coach and educator at North Carolina Central University. The book is titled “An Olympic Journey: The Saga of an American Hero – LeRoy T. Walker.” It was published in 1998.
Charlie Gaddy continues to enjoy working in the community, writing and spending time with Nancy.
J.D. Lewis was an on-air personality and corporate executive who broke racial barriers and gained widespread popularity during a long career at Capitol Broadcasting Company.
Lewis was best known as the genial host of “Teenage Frolics,” a dance and variety program that debuted on WRAL-TV in 1958 and ran for more than two decades. Teenage Frolics is thought to be the country’s first regularly-scheduled program hosted by an African-American; it went on the air thirteen years before the legendary Don Cornelius hosted the first “Soul Train” dance program in Chicago.
John Davis (J.D.) Lewis, Jr. was born in Indianapolis on July 7, 1919. His family moved to Raleigh in 1923 so his father could take a job as district manager with North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. J.D. grew up on South Bloodworth Street near Shaw University. He starred in football and track before graduating from Washington High School – the first public high school for African-Americans in Raleigh.
Lewis won a scholarship to Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he earned a business degree and graduated with honors. He lettered in football and track and at one time held the Southern Intercollegiate pole-vaulting record.
After college, Lewis returned to Raleigh, where he worked briefly for his father and then as a clerk in a neighborhood store. It was there that he met and fell in love with Louise Cox, a high school student who would become his wife.
When the United States entered World War II, most of Lewis’ college classmates urged him to join the Army’s 99th Pursuit Squad, better known as the “Tuskegee Airmen.” But Lewis was newly-married and wanted to stay near his bride, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps and thus became one of the first 200 blacks to serve in that branch of the military.
J.D. and his fellow black enlistees did basic training in North Carolina and were known as “Montford Point Marines,” a reference to the swampy area where their barracks were built to segregate them from white Marines at nearby Camp LeJeune. Lewis excelled at Montford Point and was sent to the Pacific Fleet School at Pearl Harbor for training on the military’s new radar technology. His unit was then assigned to the Marshal Islands to track Japanese movement during the rest of the war.
The radar and electronics experience gained in the Marine Corps laid the groundwork for the next step of J.D.’s career. When he returned to Raleigh in 1947, Lewis set up a radio and television repair business. He also built a mobile sound truck and drove around neighborhoods promoting various events and functions over the loudspeaker. And he handled public address announcements and play-by-play descriptions when teams from the old Negro Baseball League would play in Raleigh.
J.D.’s reputation grew quickly and in 1948 WRAL-AM/FM General Manager Fred Fletcher heard about him. Fletcher attended a baseball game at Chavis Park and was impressed with Lewis’ announcing talent. He quickly hired J.D. as a morning disc jockey, making him the first African-American radio announcer in North Carolina.
For the next twenty years Lewis blazed a trail in radio at WRAL-AM and FM, hosting music shows, doing interviews with community leaders and reading news and community announcements. He also got heavily involved in community service – joining and supporting the NAACP, Omega Psi Phi fraternity, The Urban League, The Boy Scouts of America and the First Baptist Church of Raleigh.
When Capitol Broadcasting Company competed for a television station license in the early 50s, the company proudly pointed to J.D.’s many on-air and civic contributions in its application. CBC won the license and WRAL-TV went on the air in late 1956. Two years later – in 1958 – J.D. Lewis would begin hosting the program that is still synonymous with his name – Teenage Frolics.
“Frolics” was a wildly popular program that aired live from the WRAL-TV studios every Saturday afternoon. The show featured African-American teenagers dancing to the latest tunes, and while it was best known for music and dance, Teenage Frolics also gave J.D. Lewis a platform for interviews with community leaders, civic officials and nationally-known entertainers such as Lou Rawls and Isaac Hayes.
Teenage Frolics provided a window into black youth culture and music and gave African-American teenagers a sense of pride. It also made J.D. Lewis a regional star, and his daughter, Yvonne Lewis-Holley, says she felt her father’s influence on a regular basis: “This is what I hear from people when I see them on the street: He was the first black man that they could see on TV that wasn’t pushing a broom.”
When J.D. Lewis ended his radio career in 1968 he became a community relations representative for Pepsi and a project director for the U.S. Labor Department. He was also responsible for job training programs for the Neighborhood Youth Corps.
In 1974, CBC President Jim Goodmon convinced J.D. to come back to the company, hiring him as Capitol Broadcasting’s first Human Resources Director. J.D. accepted the challenge and soon went on the air as an editorialist for WRAL-TV, stressing education and other topics that were important to him.
Later Lewis would serve as CBC’s Minority Affairs Director. During that time he hosted the WRAL-TV public-affairs program “Harambee,” where he used the phrase “Let’s get it together” as a slogan. J.D. also headed up the consumer-advocacy program “Call for Action” that helped numerous citizens with their financial problems.
Lewis’ deep interest in young people was exemplified throughout his life and career. When he retired from CBC in 1997, he declined a traditional gift and asked that the money instead be directed to his favorite charity, the Garner Road YMCA, a center J.D. helped found after World War II. Capitol Broadcasting Company’s Fletcher Foundation provided $100,000 in seed money for a multi-purpose center that opened in 2005. The new wing at the Y was fittingly named in honor of Lewis.
J.D. received numerous honors for his participation in a broad range of civic and community activities. In April 2000, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) presented him with its Humanitarian of the Year Award. J.D. was also inducted into the Hall of Distinction at the African-American Cultural Complex. And he received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association.
In February 2007 Lewis was honored with the very first Triangle Urban League Legend Award for his trailblazing career that changed the landscape of the broadcast industry. The next day — February 17, 2007 – J.D. Lewis died at the age of 87.
In 2010, J.D. received posthumous induction into the Raleigh Hall of Fame.
Jesse Helms was a newspaperman-turned-broadcaster whose fiery editorials on WRAL-TV helped propel him to a 30-year career in the United States Senate.
Born in Monroe, NC in 1921, Helms’ first job was sweeping the floor of the Monroe Enquirer at age nine. He wrote a column for the same newspaper in high school and by 1939 was writing freelance sports articles for other papers in the region.
Helms studied journalism at Wingate Junior College and later at Wake Forest College, where he also wrote sports publicity material for the school. A chance meeting with the managing editor of the Raleigh News & Observer led to a job as overnight proofreader for the paper. When the N&O promoted him to sportswriter, Helms dropped out of Wake Forest to devote all his time and energy to his newspaper career.
Helms’ first fulltime job was as a sports reporter with Raleigh’s afternoon paper, the Raleigh Times. He rose to the position of Assistant City Editor before joining the Navy in 1942.
Before leaving for naval duty, Helms married Dorothy “Dot” Coble, who was also working in the newspaper business. Coble was editor of the society page at the News & Observer. The marriage would last until Helms’ death 66 years later.
Helms served stateside as a naval recruiter from 1942-1945. When he returned to Raleigh, he was offered a job as News Director of WCBT Radio in Roanoke Rapids. While working there, he met Capitol Broadcasting Company founder A.J. Fletcher, and the two struck up a friendship that would last a lifetime.
A.J. Fletcher liked the young newsman and saw to it that he would eventually join his company. In 1948, WRAL Radio President Fred Fletcher hired Helms as the News Director for WRAL-AM, WRAL-FM and the company’s two growing networks—the Tobacco Radio Network and the Tobacco Sports Network.
During the next few years Helms ran CBC’s radio news department and developed an intense interest in politics. He began spending spare time working on the 1950 U.S. Senate campaign of Willis Smith, who beat Frank Porter Graham in a hotly-contested election.
After the successful campaign, Senator Smith hired Helms away from WRAL and brought him to Washington as his Administrative Assistant. Helms served capably in that capacity until Smith died suddenly in 1953. He then worked briefly for Alton Lennon—Smith’s successor, but returned to Raleigh before the year ended.
When Jesse Helms came back to Raleigh, he took the job of Executive Director of the North Carolina Bankers Association. He held that title for the next seven years, but also found time to win election to the Raleigh City Council (1957-1961) and keep a hand in broadcasting– hosting a short Sunday program called “Facts of the Matter.”
But by 1960, the time was right for a reunion between Jesse Helms and his old friend, A.J. Fletcher. In a move that would change his life and career, Helms joined Capitol Broadcasting Company as its Executive Vice President, Vice Chairman of the Board, and Assistant Executive Officer.
In his new role at CBC, Jesse Helms’ chief responsibility was to write and express the views and positions of the company on a variety of topics. He communicated those positions in daily editorials on WRAL-TV and Capitol Broadcasting’s radio outlets. The commentaries were called “Viewpoint,” and the segment title became synonymous with Jesse Helms.
From the beginning, Jesse Helms’ Viewpoint editorials were designed to stir passionate debate. A WRAL-TV promotional flier described Viewpoint as “…easily the most provocative five minutes on television anywhere in the South. By taking a stand ourselves, Channel Five hopes that it may spark a willingness in others also to take a stand, either with us or against us, pro or con. Viewpoint is designed to make people think, and to register with Channel Five’s viewers this station’s position on matters of urgent public concern.”
Helms argued for free enterprise and states’ rights and against a host of issues that were familiar targets for conservatives, including abortion, civil rights and Medicaid. Helms spiced his commentaries with folksy anecdotes and biting sarcasm that won him legions of fans, but also made enemies.
The Viewpoint editorials made the controversial commentator a household name in North Carolina and after twelve years on the air—Helms decided to use his popularity among conservative voters as a springboard to Washington.
In early 1972, Jesse Helms filed as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, and the Viewpoint editorials that had made him famous came to an end. Helms left Capitol Broadcasting Company and that fall won the bellwether election that would send him to Washington for the next thirty years.
Helms’ political career is well-chronicled, but it’s generally agreed that he became one of the country’s most powerful and controversial conservatives during his three decades in office. His political stands were much like his Viewpoint editorials; there was no middle ground. The Almanac of American Politics once wrote that “no American politician is more controversial; beloved in some quarters and hated in others, than Jesse Helms.”
As his health began to fail, however, Helms decided to leave politics and say goodbye to the national stage. In August 2001, Senator Jesse Helms returned to the once-familiar studios of WRAL-TV to videotape one final message—a statement officially announcing that he would not run for reelection.
Jesse Helms died July 4, 2008. He was 86.
He may have been legally blind, but Paul Montgomery saw what it took to make people happy. With a gap-tooth grin and tattered top-hat, “Uncle Paul” endeared himself to children and adults alike as host of the legendary “Time for Uncle Paul” show on WRAL-TV.
Every weekday from 1961-1981, Uncle Paul entered Triangle living rooms with “Crawford the Lion” and a host of puppet sidekicks. He worked without a script, without a budget and without rehearsal, but Paul Montgomery knew the simple truth that laughter and a big grin is all we really need.
Kids felt famous and special getting to march around the studio behind Uncle Paul, and the daily routine became a staple of his program. He saw entertainment as the number one goal and did all he could to help kids have fun. Using a variety of puppets such as “Stripes the Skunk” and a “hepcat” named “Zoot,” Uncle Paul delighted studio audiences filled with wide-eyed children.
Paul Montgomery’s career began on radio; in the early ‘40s he joined WRAL-AM as an announcer and record librarian and made a name as a sharp-witted, humorous performer. He later moved across town to WNAO-AM, where he hosted a morning program. In 1956, Montgomery made the transition to television when he joined the staff at Raleigh’s WNAO-TV.
In 1958 he joined WRAL-TV, where he appeared as “Heinrich von Stuplebaum” on the “Cap’n Five” show. Wearing a straw hat and his trademark grin, Montgomery provided music and comic relief on the children’s program hosted by Herb Marks.
During this era Montgomery also played organ and piano for WRAL’s version of “Romper Room” and in 1960 became “Bozo the Clown” on WRAL’s local version of the popular cartoon show.
Then in 1961, Montgomery traded in his red nose and clown makeup for a tattered coat and top hat to become “Uncle Paul,” the studio ringmaster of what would become one of the longest running children’s shows in the Southeast.
Montgomery’s talents stretched far beyond broadcasting. Despite being legally blind his entire life, he became a highly-acclaimed jazz musician and composer.
Montgomery regularly performed with some of the biggest names in jazz as well as local artists. His collaborations with jazz vocalist Carol Sloane were legendary and included the album “Subway Tokens,” which was recorded live at Raleigh’s renowned Frog & Nightgown nightclub.
Montgomery was best known as a jazz pianist, but he also played the violin and served as organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Raleigh.
Paul Montgomery’s kindness and sense of humor endeared him to scores of North Carolineans, from tykes to the young at heart. As one fan and friend noted, “He made everyone feel good inside.”
Uncle Paul Montgomery died December 24, 2002. He was 78.
Ray Wilkinson was a pioneering farm broadcaster who almost single-handedly changed the way agricultural news was reported in the Southeast. Ray spent more than three decades at Capitol Broadcasting Company, winning countless friends and earning a spot in the National Farm Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Born in Chicago, Ray Wilkinson moved to Eastern North Carolina in 1948 to take a job as Program Director for WFMA/WCEC Radio in Rocky Mount. He started producing regular agricultural reports and feature stories that were picked up by the fledgling Tobacco Radio Network, a division of Capitol Broadcasting Company. Wilkinson’s reports became so popular that CBC eventually hired him as its Farm News Director in 1963.
At CBC, Wilkinson was responsible for covering all things agricultural on radio and television. He anchored daily farm news reports on WRAL-TV and became a fixture on the station’s morning and midday newscasts.
But it was Wilkinson’s in-depth coverage of agricultural markets that truly set him apart from other farm broadcasters. Wilkinson reported on commodity prices not only in North Carolina — but throughout the Southeast. Colleagues described him as a walking encyclopedia of farm facts, lore and knowledge. Farmers recognized him as “Uncle Ray”– their voice, their friend and champion.
Ray was a savvy businessman; as General Manager of the Tobacco Radio Network, Wilkinson was instrumental in developing a multi-state, commodity-oriented radio network. He’s credited with expanding TRN from a handful of radio stations in Eastern North Carolina into a regional chain stretching from Virginia to Florida.
Wilkinson didn’t stop there, either–he took CBC’s farm reporting global. Wilkinson organized and produced the first World Tobacco Teleconference in 1991. He also produced market development reports from Europe, Asia, Africa, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.
For many North Carolinians, it was the “other” Ray Wilkinson that they remember, the one who made them laugh. Early in his career, Ray began telling jokes about two fictitious country bumpkins, “Cecil and Leonard,” and the tales endeared him to fans far and wide, young and old. Ray was invited to speak at conventions throughout the country, and before long, his hayseed duo was almost as famous as the farm reporter himself.
When Ray Wilkinson retired as a CBC Vice President in 1995, he passed the broadcasting torch to his son, Dan, who at the time was a rising WRAL farm reporter. Eight years later, Dan died suddenly at the age of 45, and the death took a toll on his father’s boundless optimism. But as Ray would say later, life is about change, and that means accepting the bad with the good.
And as for the change he saw through the years in broadcasting — Ray summed it up as only a farm reporter would: “You just learn to make the transition — just like mules to horses and horses to tractors.”
Ray Wilkinson blazed a trail for other farm broadcasters and his influence was felt far beyond the borders of North Carolina. Fittingly he was inducted into the National Association of Farm Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1996. In bestowing the honor, the association recognized Ray for more than 45 years of service to farmers, farm families and the entire agribusiness community.
Ray was the recipient of numerous other major awards, including the “Oscar in Agriculture” in 1965; “Farm Broadcaster of the Year” by the National Association of Farm Broadcasters in 1975, “Agricultural Communicator of the Year” by the National AgriMarketing Association in 1991, “NCDA Friend of Agriculture Award” in 1990, and the “Governor’s Award for Service to Agriculture” in 1990.
In 1990 Wilkinson became the first fulltime farm broadcaster inducted into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. The NCAB honored Ray for his significant contributions to broadcasting in North Carolina.
Wilkinson loved history and was well-known for his dedication to the revitalization of historic Halifax, NC. In honor of those efforts he received the prestigious “Old North State Award” at the State Capitol in 2004.
Ray Wilkinson died on December 4, 2004 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 79.
CBC television and radio stations have employed hundreds of on-air performers during the company’s long history. Many followed their careers to other stations in other cities; others stayed put and made a home at CBC.
Here are the stories of some of those on-air performers from days gone by:
Adele Arakawa was a popular weekday evening news anchor at WRAL-TV in the 1980s.
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee, Arakawa grew up in Hawaii. She began her broadcasting career at the age of 16 as a radio disc jockey at a small station in East Tennessee. Two years later she became the first female disc jockey in Knoxville at WRJZ-AM.
Arakawa moved to television news at WRVK-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she filled numerous roles, including reporter, producer and news anchor.
In 1983, Adele moved to Raleigh, and for the next six years she teamed with Charlie Gaddy, Bob DeBardelaben and Tom Suiter as anchor of WRAL-TV’s 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. newscasts. She was also the host of the station’s “Wednesday’s Child” adoption series.
In early 1989, Arakawa left WRAL for an anchor position at WBBM-TV in Chicago, a position she held for five years before departing for a similar job in Denver. Arakawa joined KUSA-TV in Denver as a weekday evening anchor and she continues in that role today.
During her two decades in Denver television she has received seven regional Emmy nominations. She won the Outstanding News Anchor Emmy in 1997 for coverage of the Oklahoma City bombing trial.
In 2013 Adele Arakawa was inducted into the regional Emmy organization’s prestigious Silver Circle—an honor reserved for journalists who have spent more than 25 years in the broadcast industry and made lasting contributions to the region and craft.
She attended Tennessee Tech University and the University of Tennessee.
Bill Armstrong was WRAL-TV’s first News Director, a role he held from the station’s sign-on in 1956 to 1966.
He was also the station’s primary news anchor, who teamed with sportscaster Ray Reeve and weatherman Bob Knapp to form the first WRAL-TV anchor team.
Armstrong was a native of Salisbury who joined the Army and served on the front lines of World War II in Europe. He was a graduate of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Journalism. Before joining WRAL, he was a reporter at the Raleigh Times.
Armstrong was a “one-man-news operation” in WRAL’s early days, chasing down the news then reporting it himself from the anchor desk. Among the highlights of his WRAL news career was an interview with Neil Armstrong, who was training at UNC-Chapel Hill at the time and later became the first astronaut on the moon. (see an excerpt of that interview here).
Armstrong also provided on-the-scene coverage from the Raleigh-Durham airport when the victorious UNC men’s basketball team returned to North Carolina after winning the 1957 national championship.
Armstrong left WRAL-TV in 1966 for a job as Director of Highway Safety Promotion in the state Motor Vehicles Department. He also worked for North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry and its North Carolina Magazine.
Bill Armstrong died March 30, 2005 at the age of 80.
Bill Jordan was the popular “morning man” at WRAL-FM (MIX-101.5) for more than two decades. He says he “was made to do mornings at WRAL-FM,” and his success over the years proved that statement true.
Jordan grew up in Newport News, VA and attended the University of Richmond before being terminally bitten by the radio bug. He got his first job at WSSV-AM in Petersburg and followed up with on-air stops in Roanoke, Norfolk, Charleston, SC and Durham. Then he got the call from the radio managers at Capitol Broadcasting and his long career with CBC was born.
Jordan walked through the doors at WRAL-FM on Nov. 14th, 1989 and began a career that would encompass seven different co-hosts, five program directors and three general managers.
His career at MIX was full of highlights: broadcasting from London, Paris, the Olympics in France and Universal Studios and Disneyworld in Orlando. Along the way he chatted with countless celebrities, among them Charlton Heston, Richard Petty, President Jimmy Carter, First Lady Michelle Obama, Kevin Costner, Mark Harmon, Marie Osmond and Jeff Foxworthy.
Jordan is probably best known to listeners for two things – his good natured “Birthday Call” segments and his tireless work at the helm of the annual MIX “Radiothons” for Duke Children’s Hospital.
Jordan anchored the WRAL-FM coverage through 19 radiothons, helping raise over $15 million and making it the biggest per capita radiothon on record anywhere. He credits those experiences as the most significant thing he’s ever been involved with professionally.
During his first ten years on radio in Raleigh Jordan also entertained listeners with daily birthday calls to unsuspecting recipients. In true “Candid Camera” style, Jordan would use the phone and radio to play good-natured gags on local citizens who most always laughed along with listeners once the truth came out. The birthday calls helped make Jordan one of the most popular broadcasters in the market.
As a staunch supporter of the military and veterans, Jordan flew on three “Flights of Honor” and says he was humbled to be in the presence of so many WWII veterans who truly represent our nation’s Greatest Generation.
Bill never shied away from first-hand experience, and during his career he shared some eye-opening experiences with every branch of the military.
Bill flew with the Navy Blue Angels and passed out only when the gravitational force reached 6 ½ “Gs.” He also spent three days “learning the ropes” with US Marines at Parris Island; and he flew on a refueling mission with the 916th Air Refueling Wing out of Seymour Johnson AFB.
Never one to leave out the G.I.s – Bill jumped out of a perfectly good airplane 2 ½ miles above the earth while strapped to one of the elite members of the Army Golden Knights Parachute Team, an experience he says he’ll never forget.
Jordan says he just tried to live out his life out on the radio, and the best compliment he could ever hear was for someone to say he was like their neighbor, brother or dad.
In honor of his long career and service to the community, Bill was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest citizen honor.
Jordan retired from WRAL-FM July 31, 2013.
Bob Caudle was a longtime newscaster and weatherman at WRAL-TV, but he is best known as the television announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling during a broadcast career that spanned more than three decades.
Bob’s TV career began in 1954 at WMFD-TV (later WECT-TV) in Wilmington, NC, where he played a lead role in “Bob and Hester,” a children’s program featuring a dog puppet that talked and sang songs. After three years in Wilmington, Caudle moved to TV job in Savannah, and three years later headed to Raleigh and WRAL-TV.
At WRAL, Caudle anchored late-night news and appeared as “The Atlantic Weatherman” who would deliver the forecast each evening dressed in a gas station attendant’s uniform. In 1961 he took on additional duties as the announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, which was recorded every Wednesday night at WRAL. From that point on—Bob Caudle became a household name in the world of television wrestling.
Caudle announced and recorded hundreds of wrestling matches in WRAL’s famous Studio A, teaming up with partners such as David Crockett, Roddy Piper, Les Thatcher and Johnny Weaver. Soon he began going on the road for Crockett Promotions to tape wrestling shows throughout the eastern half of the country.
Bob’s signature sign-off line at the end of every show was “That’s it for this week, and until next week fans, so long for now!”
Caudle left WRAL-TV in early 1981 to become a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Jesse Helms, with whom he had worked during his early days at WRAL. Caudle held that position until he retired in 1996. During his time as Senator Helms’ assistant, he continued his ring announcing—working for Jim Crockett Promotions and Turner Broadcasting until the early 90s.
Bob Caudle is a native of Charlotte. He and his wife have three children and seven grandchildren. They live in Raleigh.
Bob Inskeep was a popular morning radio announcer at WRAL-FM during the 1970s and ‘80s.
Known as “F.B.I.” – which stood for “Famous Bob Inskeep” – Bob combined a laid-back conversational style with a keen wit and biting sense of humor to win legions of fans for his morning show on MIX-101.5.
Inskeep came to WRAL-FM in 1974, not long after the station changed its programing to the popular Adult Contemporary format. He was on the air 3 ½ hours each morning delivering a mix of music, interviews, prepared sketches and impromptu humor. Listeners loved him and he was named “Best in the Triangle” five years running in the annual poll conducted by Spectator Magazine.
Inskeep was born in Urbana, Ohio, but moved with his family to Rockwell, Maryland where he graduated high school. He went on to Virginia Tech University where he got his first radio experience at the campus station. At first Bob produced commercials, but he soon got his first regular on-air role as the host of a folk music program.
Inskeep’s first commercial radio job came at WCFV in the small town of Clifton Forge, Virginia. Stints at other Virginia stations followed, including a sales job in Roanoke with announcer Adrian Cronauer, who would go on to fame as the subject of the movie “Good Morning Vietnam.”
Bob first came to North Carolina for a sales job at WDNC AM/FM in Durham. He next moved to WCHL-AM in Chapel Hill, and that’s where he got his first morning announcing shift. In 1974 a job opened at WRAL-FM and Inskeep was hired as the station’s Operations Manager.
Over the next 15 years, Inskeep entertained Triangle listeners as the always-likable “F.B.I.” One of his hallmarks was community involvement, and Inskeep appeared at telethons, broadcast from the United Way’s hot air balloon, did charity “Walkathons” and made countless appearances and speeches at festivals, parades and meetings. His tireless community spirit won him a permanent place in the heart of the Triangle community.
In the late 1980s Inskeep felt the urge to help others in need of personal counseling. He began taking courses at Duke University Divinity School to gain practical knowledge, but before long he felt a deeper calling that pulled him toward the ministry. Bob acted on that call and enrolled in pastoral classes that set the stage for the next phase of his career. He completed fifteen courses at Duke Divinity School between 1979 and 1986.
Bob remained on the air at MIX-101.5 for the next three years, but left morning radio behind and moved into a corporate role at CBC in late 1989. The next year he left the company for good and headed north to Richmond where he enrolled at Union Presbyterian Seminary. He earned his Masters of Divinity at Union in 1994 and was ordained a Presbyterian minister.
Today Bob Inskeep is Associate Minister at Raleigh’s First Presbyterian Church.
Bob Knapp was WRAL-TV’s first weathercaster, joining the staff on December 13, 1956. That was two days before the station signed on the air.
Knapp came to WRAL from Richmond, where he got early experience in radio and television. Knapp not only handled weather, he also reported and anchored sports and filled in for Ray Reeve when necessary.
Knapp was best known for the “Atlantic Weatherman” segments where he would deliver the forecast wearing the full uniform of a service station attendant. Atlantic Oil Company sponsored weathercasts at more than 40 television stations along the east coast in the late 1950s and early 60s. WRAL-TV adopted the “Atlantic style” and Knapp would appear each night wearing a tan-colored service station attendant’s uniform, bow tie and black-visored cap.
The WRAL weather background included an Atlantic logo on the left and North Carolina regional map on the right. Each night it would be rolled into the studio on wheels and positioned in front of the single camera that was used for the production. Knapp stored his Atlantic caps on a shelf above the map—just out of camera range and out of sight of viewers.
Bob Knapp also covered sports most days and he became known as an “active” reporter, taking part in individual competitions and showing particular skill at golf. In 1957 Bob won the Press-Radio-TV division of the Atlantic Coast College football roundup golf tournament, shooting a 77 over the Finley golf course in Chapel Hill. He repeated the feat the next year with an even par 72, which garnered him the A.E. Finley Trophy for overall low score.
Bob Knapp left WRAL-TV in 1965, but came back to the station for another year in 1967. He was the first of three WRAL-TV chief weather anchors named Bob; Knapp would be followed by Bob Caudle and later by the biggest name in weather—Bob DeBardelaben.
Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Battista was a producer, on-air host and primary evening news anchor at WRAL-TV from 1974 to 1981.
Battista graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor’s degree in radio, television and film production. Not long afterward, she began her broadcast career as a DJ at WAKS Radio – a country music station in Fuquay-Varina. Her on-air name was “Bobbie Ann.”
Battista joined WRAL-TV in 1974 as a secretary, but she quickly convinced station management to put her on the air in 1976. She produced and anchored the WRAL morning news and other special programming until 1977, when she joined Charlie Gaddy on the station’s 6:00 and 11:00 o’clock news. Gaddy and Battista formed the first male-female anchor team in the Raleigh-Durham-Fayetteville television market.
Over the next four years WRAL achieved ratings dominance and in late 1981 Bobbie answered Ted Turner’s call to join a start-up cable network known as CNN. She was hired as one of the original anchors on CNN Headline News, but by 1986 Battista moved to CNN’s flagship cable channel where she became one of the network’s most recognizable stars.
During this time at CNN Battista also anchored a daily program for CNN International, making her the only anchor in CNN history to work at all three CNN networks. In 1998 Battista was chosen to host television’s first daily interactive talk show – Talkback Live.
Battista left CNN after the company merged with America Online in 2001. In 2002 she became a principal in the Atamira Communications firm in Atlanta, where she provided communications consulting for corporate clients.
In 2009, she began making periodic appearances on the Onion News Network (ONN), a satirical news organization. And in early 2014, Battista was named host of Georgia Public Broadcasting’s new nightly news program On the Story.
Among Battista’s many honors is the prestigious George Foster Peabody award for a documentary on juvenile crime.
FOX News Anchor Bret Baier was a General Assignment Reporter for WRAL-TV News from 1996 to 1998.
Baier’s broadcast career started in Beaufort, SC, where he worked for WJWJ-TV, the PBS affiliate. From there he moved to WREX-TV, the NBC affiliate in Rockford, IL. In 1996, Baier came to Raleigh to join the WRAL reporting team.
Bret’s WRAL reporting career got off to a memorable start as he spent his first day on the job covering a tornado that hit parts of Eastern Wake County. Bret’s live reporting topped the Channel 5 newscasts that evening and set the tone for what would be a short, but impressive two-year stint covering news in Central North Carolina.
In 1998 Fox News hired Baier as the first reporter in the network’s new Atlanta Bureau. Ever since, Baier has steadily risen through the ranks, covering Washington as the Fox Pentagon correspondent and later as Chief White House correspondent.
In 2009, Baier was promoted to the position of Chief Political Anchor and anchor of the nightly news program “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
To read Bret’s Fox News biography, click here: http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/personalities/bret-baier/bio/#s=a-d
Baier grew up in Atlanta and is a graduate of DePauw University, where he earned a BA in Political Science and English.
Bret and his wife Amy have two sons.
Donna Gregory was a weekday news anchor at WRAL-TV from 1988 until 1996.
Gregory grew up in Atlanta and earned her college degree at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She worked as a news anchor-reporter at WMBD-TV in Peoria and KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City before joining the WRAL-TV Action News team in 1988.
Donna co-anchored the 5:30pm and 11:00pm newscasts during much of her WRAL tenure. She also hosted the station’s coverage of the annual Raleigh Christmas Parade and frequently traveled to NCAA Final Four tournaments to co-anchor WRAL sports specials.
Gregory also hosted “Kids Having Kids,” a WRAL-TV news special which examined the issue of teen pregnancy in North Carolina.
In 1996 Gregory was hired to anchor a brand new newscast for six major-market stations affiliated with the UPN network. The job took her to KMSP-TV in Minneapolis, where she anchored the midday newscast until March 1997.
Gregory returned to the Triangle where she was hired by WNCN-TV as a primary weekday anchor. She worked at WNCN until 2001, when she left the station to form her own communications company.
A year later, Donna began working as a correspondent and anchor for NBC News and MSNBC. She held those positions until 2008.
In 2012 Donna founded Coastal Health Innovations and began a new career as a Professional Integrative Health Coach. She works with clients to help them achieve their health, fitness and lifestyle goals.
Herb Marks was a staff announcer at WRAL-TV who gained fame as “Cap’n Five,” the sub-mariner host of the station’s popular cartoon show in the late 1950s.
Marks grew up in Pennsylvania and broke into broadcasting at a station in Tennessee. He was hired as one of WRAL-TV’s original employees, joining Channel 5 shortly before the station signed on the air in December 1956.
Marks handled various announcing duties until 1958 – when WRAL managers decided they needed an entertaining host for the station’s daily cartoon show. Cap’n Five was born and Marks’ career changed almost overnight.
The Cap’n Five show was produced in front of a studio audience of energetic children who would arrive at WRAL each day ready for a voyage into the world of television make-believe. As a longtime student of dramatics, Marks would don his skipper’s cap and perform with a cast of puppets—telling stories and jokes to keep the children entertained and under control.
In its early days the Cap’n Five set featured a huge submarine prop that docked in the TV fantasyland known as “Happy Harbor.” Eventually the submarine prop disappeared and Marks—who was an amateur ventriloquist and master of many voices–became the central feature of the program.
Marks would entertain the kids and then introduce cartoon favorites like Popeye, Huckleberry Hound and Quick Draw McGraw.
The Cap’n Five Show came to an end in 1961, but not before blazing a trail as one of the first locally-produced children’s shows on Channel 5.
After the show ended its run, Marks stayed on with WRAL-TV as an announcer and employee of the Promotion Department. He left the station in 1967.
CBS Anchor/Correspondent Jim Axelrod was a General Assignment and Political Reporter at WRAL-TV from 1993 to 1996. He covered the NC General Assembly and reported on a broad range of local issues during his tenure in Raleigh.
Prior to WRAL, Axelrod worked at WSTM-TV Syracuse, NY and WUTR-TV Utica, NY. He began his career at WVII-TV Bangor, ME in 1989.
At CBS, Jim is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the “CBS Evening News.” He joined CBS News as a Miami-based correspondent and later worked in the network’s Dallas and New York bureaus. He served as CBS News Chief White House Correspondent from 2006-2009 and was named National Correspondent in 2009.
At CBS News Jim has covered a wide range of stories, most notably as a reporter “embedded” with the military during the war in Iraq. Axelrod was the first to report live from Baghdad’s Saddam International Airport after it fell to U.S. troops in 2003. He was also the last reporter to leave with the military in December 2011.
Axelrod has won several major awards, including the duPont-Columbia Silver Baton for reporting on the recession’s effects on children. He was also honored with a national Emmy Award for coverage of the Washington, D.C. sniper siege.
Axelrod is a native of New Jersey who graduated from Cornell University with a B.A. in 1985. He earned an M.A. from Brown University in 1989.
Axelrod is the author of “In The Long Run: A Father, A Son, And Unintentional Lessons In Happiness”, which was published in 2011.
He and his wife, Christina, live in New Jersey with their three children.
Ray Reeve was a pioneering sports broadcaster who worked for WRAL-AM and FM, the Tobacco Sports Network and WRAL-TV during a career that spanned five decades.
He is best known as the first voice of Atlantic Coast Conference basketball over the Tobacco Sports Network—a radio network formed by Capitol Broadcasting Company in 1948 to carry the region’s collegiate games.
Reeve’s distinct play-by-play style and raspy voice endeared him to listeners throughout the ACC region. Sports historians credit the early growth of the league in part to Reeve’s compelling basketball broadcasts.
As the ACC evolved, Reeve narrowed his broadcasts to NC State athletics. He gained widespread popularity as the voice of Wolfpack basketball and football during the eras of Coaches Everett Case and Earle Edwards.
When WRAL-TV signed on the air in 1956, Reeve was its first Sports Director and Sports Anchor – roles he maintained until his retirement in 1973.
During his early years at WRAL-TV Reeve was the original host of “All-Star Wrestling,” which later became “Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling.” He hosted the wildly popular shows in the late 50s and early 60s as they were recorded before a live audience in WRAL-TV’s Studio A. Reeve later turned the hosting duties over to an up-and-coming WRAL sportscaster–Nick Pond.
In its on-air and print promotion, WRAL-TV referred to Ray Reeve as the “Dean of Sportscasters,” and it turns out his contemporaries agreed. In 1967 Reeve was elected to the NC Sports Hall of Fame—becoming the first broadcaster to be so honored.
Reeve was a graduate of Dartmouth College. He died in 1980.
Rich Brenner was WRAL-TV’s primary sports anchor from 1978 to 1981.
Brenner got his career start at WLVA-TV (now WSET-TV) in Lynchburg, Virginia. He also worked at WAVY-TV in Portsmouth before joining the WRAL staff.
Brenner reported on all sports for WRAL, but his passion was NASCAR, and he pushed the station to cover the burgeoning sport long before other local sports teams in the region. According to former WRAL Sports Anchor Tom Suiter, Brenner’s philosophy of sports coverage was simple: “Be there” at the games and events so you can report the story first-hand. Suiter credits Brenner for teaching him more about television than anyone else.
Brenner left WRAL in 1981 to join WMAQ-TV in Chicago, but he soon returned to North Carolina. Following a stint at WTVD-TV, Brenner joined WGHP-TV in High Point, where he spent the last 21 years of his career. He retired in 2008 after winning numerous awards, including three regional Emmys.
The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences inducted Brenner into the prestigious Silver Circle for the MidSouth region. The honor is reserved for broadcasters with at least 25 years in the business who have made significant contributions to the community and to television in the region.
Rich Brenner died February 27, 2012 after suffering a heart attack at a speaking engagement. He was 65.
To see Jeff Gravely’s tribute to Rich Brenner, go here: http://www.wralsportsfan.com/voices/video/10791192/
And Tom Suiter looks back on his time working with Rick in this interview: http://www.wralsportsfan.com/voices/video/10791216/
Sam Beard was WRAL-TV’s second News Director, following Bill Armstrong as the chief anchorman and director of the television station’s news efforts.
Beard joined WRAL in September 1961 and rose to the position of Vice President of News. He was a veteran broadcaster who got into radio in his late teens and worked his way into a prominent role at WPTF-AM, where he served as a news announcer in the 40s and 50s.
In the late 1950s Beard was appointed Public Relations Director for the North Carolina Highway Commission, but it wasn’t long before he was lured back into broadcasting in the state capitol.
Beard was the consummate anchorman with a baritone voice and on-air presence that made him one of the most respected newscasters of his time. He anchored news coverage of the 1968 North Carolina primary for a six-station statewide network headquartered at WRAL. It was the first such network in North Carolina political history and Beard was the glue who held the broadcasts together.
Beard majored in History and Economics as he earned Bachelor’s degree at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He joined the Navy and served during World War II, but upon discharge he returned to his job at WPTF-AM in Raleigh.
Sam Beard left WRAL-TV in September 1972 to work fulltime for former WRAL colleague Jesse Helms, who was campaigning for the U.S. Senate.
Sam Beard died on August 13, 1973 at age 50.
Mabel Gary Philpot – or “Sister Gary” as she was known in the pulpit and on the air, came to WRAL-AM in the 1940s to host a gospel music program on Sunday evenings. She was the first African-American to host a regularly-scheduled radio show in Raleigh.
A native of Abingdon, Virginia, Sister Gary studied at and graduated from Knoxville College seminary in Tennessee. She preached her first sermon at age 17 before being ordained as a deacon and elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
Sister Gary came to Raleigh in 1936 to preach at Grace Chapel AME Zion Church in Raleigh. Though Mabel Gary was only four-feet-eleven-inches tall—she gained a reputation as a powerful speaker who could move congregations and radio audiences alike.
Sister Gary was hired by then-WRAL-AM General Manager Fred Fletcher, who recalled in his book “Tempus Fugit” that she was not only an effective minister—she attracted radio listeners in large numbers: “One bit of worldly evidence about the power of Sister Gary’s program was in the ratings. They were usually good, and one period she beat WDNC’s Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy.”
After more than two decades on radio, “The Sister Gary Spiritual Program” changed venues and moved to WRAL-TV in 1969. The new television program aired every Sunday morning from 7:30 – 8:00 and featured Gary’s sister Sandra Byrd and the Wesleyan TV Choir. The transition to television introduced Sister Gary to a larger audience and firmly established her place in the history of gospel music in North Carolina.
Following her death, Sister Gary’s television program evolved into WRAL-TV’s award-winning “Spiritual Awakening.” That gospel music program carries on to this day and is a weekly reminder of the trail blazed by Sister Gary. Sister Mabel Gary was recognized with numerous honors; she received a Certificate of Merit from St. Augustine’s College for outstanding work in the Community and in 1975 the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority honored her as Woman of the Year.
In June 1977 one of Sister Gary’s legs was amputated due to health reasons. A mere two weeks later she was back on the air hosting her Sunday morning program–a testament to her undying spirit and determination.
Sister Mabel Gary Philpot died July 8, 1978 following a bout of pneumonia. She was 72.
Stuart Scott was a General Assignment News Reporter at WRAL-TV who went on to stardom as one of ESPN’s most popular and influential sports anchors.
Scott got his start in broadcasting at WPDE-TV in Florence, SC, where worked as a news reporter and weekend sports anchor. He joined that station in 1987 following his graduation from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC Scott earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Communication and Radio, Television and Motion Pictures and was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.
In 1988, Scott came to WRAL for a two-year stint in the Channel 5 newsroom. Although he reported news stories in Raleigh, his long-term goal was a career in sports.
In 1990, he headed south to Florida for a sports reporting position at WESH-TV in Orlando. It was there that Scott was noticed by the growing ESPN organization, and in 1993 he joined the network for the launch of ESPN2.
Scott quickly found a loyal following and his role and visibility on ESPN’s studio shows exploded. His unique anchor style and vocabulary, including his patented catch-phrase “Boo-yow,” made him one of ESPN’s most popular and recognizable personalities.
At ESPN Scott’s primary roles were on Sportscenter and the network’s NBA and NFL programming. Over the course of his career he interviewed top professional athletes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods along with Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.
In late 2007 it was revealed that Scott had been diagnosed with cancer. The disease went into remission, but recurred several additional times during the next seven years. Scott fought back each time, returning to the ESPN set as an inspiration to a nationwide audience.
In July 2014 Scott was honored with the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. In accepting the award, he told the ESPY audience that “when you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live.”
On January 4, 2015, Stuart Scott died at the age of 49. He is survived by his daughters Taelor and Sydni.
Following his death, the UNC Department of Athletics released the following statement:
Our hearts go out to Stuart Scott’s family and friends, including his daughters Taelor and Sydni, and his colleagues at ESPN. He loved his home state and his alma mater. Stuart taught us that sports is about joy and laughter, not just achievement and results. More important, he showed us how to fight with dignity and honor. He blazed a path in broadcasting that is often imitated, but never duplicated. His legacy will live on in many ways – as a friend, a son, a father, a professional and forever, a Tar Heel….”
Susan Dahlin was best known as the popular host of PM Magazine on WRAL-TV, a role she held for the entire eight-year local run of the program.
Dahlin came to WRAL almost by accident. In 1980 she was working in an off-camera role at WPEC-TV in West Palm Beach when she decided to make an audition tape for PM Magazine. WRAL managers saw the tape and hired her to help launch the program in Raleigh. Dahlin teamed with co-host Tom McNamara during the early years of the program.
In 1984 Dahlin was named Producer of PM Magazine and continued hosting it until the show went off the air in 1988. At that point, she became Entertainment and Travel Editor for WRAL-TV News, travelling the state, country and world over the next year to produce feature segments for the station’s newscasts.
In 1989 Dahlin became Executive Producer of the station with the new responsibility of producing documentaries and children’s programming. She helped create the Androgena Show, a children’s program that won several national awards. Dahlin’s documentaries included “The Blanche Taylor Moore Story,” which won a regional Emmy.
In 1996, Dahlin was assigned to head up marketing efforts for new High Definition TV technology that WRAL was pioneering. She traveled the country spreading the word about HDTV through seminars and other public relations efforts.
Dahlin left WRAL in 2000 to pursue her artistic hobby as a fulltime career. Raised by several generations of artists, Susan’s love of painting eventually placed her art in galleries across the South.
In recent years Susan has moved into real estate. She is a successful agent in the Triangle.
Susan is a graduate of Penn State University – earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1979.
Tom McNamara was one of the original co-hosts of PM Magazine on WRAL-TV.
Tom joined the station in July of 1980 and helped bring the new PM program format to life on Channel 5. Tom and co-host Susan Dahlin fronted the magazine show for more than four years and won legions of fans in the process. The partnership ended when Tom decided to move into the TV news business, and he left the station for an anchor position out of state.
Tom was born and raised in New York City. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Broadcast Journalism from Fordham University, then got his first television experience as a desk assistant at WCBS-TV in New York.
Tom next became an actor and voiceover artist for radio and television commercials. He even appeared in several daytime dramas in the late 1970s.
In 1979 Tom got his first fulltime station job hosting PM Magazine at WNEP-TV in Scranton, PA. A year later he moved to Raleigh to join the WRAL team.
After leaving Channel 5, Tom held on-air reporting and anchoring jobs in Oklahoma City and Phoenix before making his last move to Tucson in 1997. He was hired at KVOA-TV as that station’s 5, 6 and 10 pm anchor and that’s where he is to this day.
Tom and his wife—the former Susan McMullen—are now the happy parents of three beautiful girls.
Capitol Broadcasting Company’s code of ethics states that people are its most valued asset, and that has been the case from the beginning.
Since the birth of the company in 1937, thousands of individuals have called CBC home. Some are legends, many are not, but they all have stories that are important to the growth and success of our company. We share many of those stories in this section of the CBC history archive.