All Oral History Interviews
David Crabtree joined WRAL News in 1994 and will retire at the end of 2018. His long and distinguished career at WRAL include covering local stories that impact North Carolina and traveling the world to document the Election of Pope Francis; the funeral of Nelson Mandela; survivors of the Haiti earthquake in 2010; interview with Holocaust survivors; Pope John Paul II’s funeral; Mother Theresa’s funeral; James Taylor in London; documentary on the Vatican; covering seven major hurricanes; interviewing husbands of wives with breast cancer; a documentary focusing on living conditions of migrant workers in North Carolina; the documentary, “Focal Point: The Other North Carolina.”
David is interviewed by John Harris, CBC Director of Special Projects. It is a free-wheeling, casual chat that covers everything from David’s childhood dream to be in broadcasting to discerning what his next mission in life might be within the Episcopal Church.
Prior to WRAL, David worked at KCNC-TV, Denver, Colo.; 1988 to 1991: KMGH-TV, Denver, Colo.; 1985 to 1988: WITN-TV, Washington, N.C., 1982 to 1984: WKRN, Nashville, Tenn.
Two channel audio.
Photography by Robert Meikle
Recorded November 15, 2017
Phyllis Parish Howard, Director of Local Production, joined WRAL in 1982. Her desire to work in television started at an early age. It all started with a letter written to Carol Burnett, star of the immensely popular CBS variety program “The Carol Burnett Show.” Burnett wrote back to Phyllis – then ten years old, encouraging her to follow her dream. Phyllis took her advice.
At WRAL, she began as Promotion Coordinator, promoted to Promotion Producer, then Special Projects Producer. Now she is Director of Local Production managing commercial production and local programming.
She has been involved in a wide range of projects including WRAL’s “Save Our Sounds” campaign. Phyllis also wrote and co-produced “Troubled Rivers” a documentary that investigated toxic pollution in the Neuse River. Other community outreach projects include “For the Children” campaign resulting in the EMMY award winning special “NC’s Epidemic of Overweight Children”. The list of productions continues with “A Vision, A Voice…40 Years of Service” honoring WRAL’s 40th anniversary, “The Annual Raleigh Christmas Parade,” “NC Symphony Pops in the Park,” “Crisis in Kosovo,” “Coats for Kids,” “Smart Start for Kids,” just to name a few. Many of these projects can be viewed on this website.
One of the hallmarks of Capitol Broadcasting is its desire to serve the community. Phyllis and her team work at the core of those projects.
John Conway is General Manager of digital platforms for CBC New Media. Its flagship website, WRAL.com, is the most visited local media site in the North Carolina and is consistently ranked as a top rated television news website in the nation.
Conway first joined Capitol Broadcasting Company in 1995 as the first managing editor of what was then called WRAL OnLine. He has served as WRAL.com’s product development director and creative services director.
Conway is a 1985 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he received a B.A. in journalism. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for newspapers in Raleigh, Greensboro and Orlando. He has held administrative positions with the UNC School of Journalism, including assistant dean for distance education and executive education.
Watch and listen to find out how CBC uses New Media now and anticipates its usage in the future.
Barbara Ann “Bobbie” Battista was a producer, on-air host and primary evening news anchor at WRAL-TV from 1974 to 1981.
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.
Bobbie was interviewed by WRAL News anchor David Crabtree in 2006 for the 50th Anniversary of WRAL-TV. The video is “raw footage” from one camera angle and had not been edited showing the other camera angles. That is why you will see quick camera adjustments.
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.
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.
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.
Bob DeBardelaben died October 6, 2014 following a brief illness. He was 88.