Interesting question! Let me go down the list…
I'd be afraid to be stranded with Tom Suiter. I'm sure he would injure himself and we'd spend most of our time searching the island for a physical therapist instead of food and shelter.
Greg Fishel would be like The Professor on Gilligan's Island. We'd have a great shot at trying to communicate with someone far away to rescue us. I'm not sure there wouldn't be a mutiny after a few days of puns, but his sense of humor would certainly keep my spirits up.
Gerald Owens – forget it – he would leave me to go find somewhere to play golf!
I've been boating and fishing with Jeff Gravley and no doubt he would be the best one to build a boat so we could sail off the island. However, I've seen him show up back at the pier with fish in his boat but never actually seen him catch anything! If my suspicions about his "fish stories" are true, we may starve. But for getting off the island, he's the guy.
I'm sure Mike Maze, who loves to cruise, would find a way to summon one of his favorite ships to come pick us up.
David Crabtree is most likely the one to want to be stranded on an island with no phone, TV or Internet, so we would kick back and have a relaxing vacation. On the downside, he may never want to leave.
And, I know I'd have a blast with Pam Saulsby. If anyone could be stranded on an island while still being classy and in style, I'd count on her. I bet she even has the perfect flip flops!
My boss is the kindest, most generous, intelligent, likeable, easy-going person I know! (In case he's reading this!) Actually, Rick Gall, our News Director, truly exhibits all those attributes.
If I realize there's a grammar error or a factual mistake on the TelePrompTer, I will try to change the information on the fly. However, usually I go through every story before it goes on the air so mistakes don't happen. The producers, reporters, and anchors write what we report during the newscast, with the producers writing the majority of what we read. I take full responsibility for what I say on the air so I must feel comfortable with the wording and facts. To that end, I ask a lot of questions and read the background of the story to try to make sure we're reporting the most relevant, accurate information in the short time we have to tell the story.
Bob, thanks so much for the kind words! However, if you looked back 16 years ago to when I started here at WRAL, you might change your mind. And, when we switched to High Definition…Oh, boy!
By the way, I'm forwarding your letter to my husband right now.
This is a question I hear often and I agree with you. It’s much more enjoyable for us to report on fun, light-hearted stories. It may seem hard to believe, but I’d say we do report on a greater number of positive stories than negative ones. I think we just tend to remember the negative ones more so.
We make a concerted effort at WRAL to not load up a newscast with crime stories. However, there are times when a story may be difficult to hear, but it’s important to pass along the information. Not doing the story, would be a disservice. For example, if a child molester is on the loose, I’d think most people would like to know who the person is and what he or she looks like.
Believe me, the recent reports we’ve aired on women missing in our area with tragic endings make my heart ache. But, in many cases, our hope is that we can help the community find a loved one, help the police bring someone to justice, and provide the viewers with a better understanding of what challenges we face in our community.
I’m a University of Miami grad with a double major in Telecommunications and Psychology. Some believe one helps you deal with the other!
I was the editor-in-chief of the UM newspaper and worked on the air doing the newscast for our cable station on campus. An invaluable part of my education was an internship at WPLG in Miami.
With resume and audition tape in hand, I started my journey as a professional journalist.
After a lot of rejections from TV stations all over the country (you learn to get a thick skin in this business), a news director in Toledo, Ohio, offered me my first job. From there, I moved to WJXT in Jacksonville, Fla., before coming to WRAL as the weekend anchor in 1993.
I hope until I retire, too! That's a long way off when you're only 29 years old!
Good ole’ Crest, Harry! Glad you’re having fun along with us.
I'm not sure I can even describe that for you, Chuck! Each day is different, and that's what's so exciting about my job.
But I suppose a typical day (without a lot of breaking news or working on special reports) would start with coming to work at about 2:30 each weekday afternoon. We have our staff meeting to discuss what the dayside (5pm, 5:30pm & 6pm newscasts) crews are covering and then what stories will be produced for nightside (10pm & 11pm newscasts). Of course, breaking news can trump all of our plans in an instant.
Our producers set the lineup of the stories, write most of what we read, and plan the timing of the newscast. I'll read, edit and possibly write the stories to which I'm assigned. I try to find out as much information about each story as possible. Once I’m finished going through the newscast from top to bottom, it's off to do my makeup and hair. Tom, many people “wonder” about this, too. We do our own hair and makeup and we choose our own wardrobe.
After the live newscasts, we record short news updates for your mobile phone and promos for the late news that air during prime time. After a dinner break, we then work on the 10pm and 11pm newscasts. Throughout the day, we spend a great deal of time answering e-mail, returning phone calls and gathering story ideas. The day ends with a post-newscast meeting and maybe replying to a few more letters.
Outside of my duties at the station, I usually spend a few days a week (prior to work, on weekends or over my dinner break) reading to school children, emceeing events, giving a speech or doing charity work. This is such a fulfilling part of what I do and I feel honored to be included in these wonderful events going on in our community!
To read more of Debra's answers, scroll down ....
Read more "Ask Anything"
My husband, Scott, and I have been married for 19 years! We were high school sweethearts.
As for time with the family, even though this business requires unusual schedules and long hours, my husband knows I love my work and we’re used to the unique time demands. After all of our years together, we find time to make it all work.
When UM plays a local team (NCSU, UNC, Duke, etc.) are you still a 'Cane or do you cheer for the local school? Do you ever go watch UM when they're in town playing one of the local schools and are ya wearing orange and green??? – Sebastian Gables, Raleigh
I recall UNC winning the basketball national championship in 1993....you were there, reporting live from downtown, what a rush that must have been. – Jack Mullins, Raleigh
Where are you originally from and where did you go to college? – Rod, Oxford
Anytime after the sports has just finished for WRAL, you seem to always give a very logical insight on what someone has said. Are you a big sports fan? – Jacob Bowes, Raleigh
Oooh, tough question about my favorite college sports team! Even though I was born and raised in south Florida and graduated from THE University of Miami, I feel as though I'm now more connected with the Triangle college teams. Tom Suiter calls me a "homer" (I don't see that as a bad thing!) because I'll cheer for State over Miami, for example. I still want UM to do well, don't get me wrong. It was tough to take when Miami played ECU in 1999 (at Carter-Finley because of Hurricane Floyd), and lost after blowing a big half-time lead.
I'm a huge sports fan, especially when it comes to football (I grew up a diehard Dolphins fan), college basketball, hockey and soccer. Covering the UNC championships from Franklin Street in 1993 was my initiation into ACC basketball. I remember parents bringing their babies to the celebration so one day their children could say they were there! I'm thrilled to be able to say I was there, too. Quite a rush, you're right. It was just as fun to be a part of it again in 2005 for another national championship.
Following the Carolina Hurricanes to Edmonton and back for the Stanley Cup finals was another incredible highlight. So was seeing all the fans from the Triangle down in Jacksonville, Fla., when N.C. State beat up on Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl in 2003. Being able to sit on press row in Cameron Indoor to experience the Crazies and working with Coach K at the Children’s Hospital telethon are Duke memories I cherish.
I can honestly say I don’t have a favorite team among the local universities. We have so many talented programs in our area, it’s fun to sit back and watch the friendly rivalries!
You are so beautiful! Your delivery of the news is sincere and comical when needed! Are you married? I know you have dogs! I appreciate your delivery of the news! Someone like CNN will probably snap you up soon! – Rhonda McNeill, Sanford
Debra, I have been enjoying watching you for 12 years very much so. What keeps you here in the Raleigh area? I am shocked that a larger market or big news channel has not pulled you away, but delighted that they haven't. – Jimmy Cholerton, Garner
Thanks for the very nice words, Margaret, Rhonda and Jimmy. Honestly, very few TV stations or networks offer what we have here at WRAL. Rarely a day goes by when I wake up and don't want to come to the station. I'm blessed that I'm paid to do what I love with people I enjoy being around.
The biggest compliment I receive is when people tell me I'm like a member of their family. When our viewers put that much trust in us, it's a responsibility I don't take lightly. Whether I'm reporting in times of crisis, such as in a hurricane, or having fun with a series, like the one I'm currently working on called Bad Dog!, I'm committed to being accurate, relevant and interesting.
To be honest, reporters don't make much money right out of college. Usually, in order to gain experience, you start in a small market and work your way up. How much you make depends on the city you're in, the station's place in the market, and how much experience you have. When I went from my first to my second job, my salary almost doubled! Of course, when you start out making peanuts, that's not saying much, but when you change jobs, you often earn more. If your motivation for choosing this profession is to make a lot of money, you may be disappointed.
Important qualities include being a good storyteller, a good writer, working under deadline pressure and communicating quickly and effectively. On the TV side of the news business, often the challenge is being able to take a hefty amount of information and narrowing it down to a minute or so. It's not easy. But the immediacy of being able to report information as it's happening, can be exciting and rewarding.
My love of journalism started in the 10th grade. In my high school, we didn’t have newscasts or videotaped morning announcements, so I started writing for our newspaper, the Pony Express. I'd highly recommend students do the same. When you start out working on a newspaper, you can interview people, learn to write, figure out how to gather facts without the pressure of having to then deliver them on camera. That delivery can come later once you have some of the journalism basics down.
And read, read, read!
Thanks for the kind words! This is probably the one topic I receive more e-mail about than any other. My hairdresser for many years now, Dianne Hargrove, tries her best to help me keep my look updated and to convince me she’s coloring my hair just for the studio lights.
Bless her heart…we both know better!
What great questions.
By far, the most difficult day of my career was Sept. 11. You may remember, CBS News was in continuous coverage that day, but WRAL broke in every half-hour for five minutes to update what was happening locally. At one point, in the early afternoon, it was my turn to do what we call the "cut-in." Just as we broke from the live network coverage, a person jumped from one of the buildings. The desperation and incredible sadness brought immediate tears to my eyes. But suddenly, I was on TV. All of us cried that day, but I had to try to compose myself to talk. I started with an apology.
Beyond the enormous sorrow we all felt so deeply throughout our community that day, I also took away something meaningful as a journalist. Several people wrote to me appreciating that I showed my true feelings on the air. To this day, when I'm delivering a touching story and you notice it's affecting me, I hope you see me as a professional journalist while at the same time as someone who cares and is moved by a story just as you are. I think we can be both.