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Morgan Fogarty will shift gears at Al Jazeera

By Mark Washburn
mwashburn@charlotteobserver.com
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

For Morgan Fogarty, her next job will be a big switch.

She’s joining the new Al Jazeera America network, which will debut in late August. Al Jazeera America, a spinoff of the Arab news network aimed at a North American audience, is setting a goal to be a hard-news operation free of the entertainment fluff that was part of Fogarty’s career in the newsroom at WCCB (Channel 18) since 2005.

Fogarty, who will be one of the network’s New York-based anchors, says she had been talking to Al Jazeera for a couple of months about an opportunity in their newsroom. She says she had no trepidation about the Al Jazeera brand, once the target of U.S. government criticism for its coverage of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Al Jazeera is known for in-depth, fact-based news,” says Fogarty, 32.

She may have to change her delivery approach in the new environment, so unlike WCCB’s freewheeling newscasts that are aimed at a young audience.

“They know who I am and hired me because of who I am,” she says. “They’re going to give us direction just as any station gives any anchor in any market direction on delivery and tone. That’s part of this business. In television, you’re known by the work you put out.”

Fogarty said the recent affiliation switch at WCCB – it lost its Fox network programming this month to WJZY (Channel 46) and picked up the ratings-challenged CW network – was not a factor in her move.

“What’s going on at WCCB is independent of my decision to move on and grow in my career. This town and that station has been incredible for me,” she says. “I have nothing but respect for the managers, and my co-workers in the newsroom are talented people. I’m sad not to work with them.”

One of her favorite jobs at Channel 18 was being paired with Christopher Frederick, better known as radio’s Brotha Fred, on “Fox News Edge,” the station’s loosely-scripted nightly magazine show. “He’s an amazing talent. It can be silly at times, but it teaches people in my profession to think on their feet.”

That show led to one of her most memorable relationships in Charlotte. One night on the “Edge,” she and Frederick were talking about recruiting for the then-miserable Panthers and said offhandedly that team owner Jerry Richardson should ask them for advice.

On the following day, she checked her messages and told a producer to listen to a voice mail she’d received. “I said, ‘Listen to this guy pretending to be Mr. Richardson.’ And the producer said no, that’s really him.”

She and Frederick were invited to the stadium. “We met with him and he was funny and gracious and welcoming and answered all the questions we had.”

He went on to introduce her to his family and invited her to his suite during a game.

“That’s been pivotal in my life. Mr. Richardson is one of the most incredible business people and one of the most incredible people on a personal level that I’ve ever known.”

Fogarty will remain on the WCCB anchor desk through July.

Media Movers

WCCB makes it official: Its new 10 p.m. news anchor team will be Kirk Hawkins and Christine Noel. Hawkins joined the station as reporter and weekend anchor in March 2012 and Noel joined the station’s morning show in December 2011. …

After seven years reporting at WBTV, Sarah Batista will be leaving in August. She plans to start a film production company and go into producing documentaries. … Salisbury native Katie Garner, WBTV’s traffic reporter, will leave in August for a job with the ABC affiliate in Columbus, Ohio. She’s got more than news experience on her resume from Charlotte – she also served as a stand-in for actress Claire Danes in the Showtime series “Homeland,” which is filmed locally. …

It’s a girl for media couple Laurabree Monday, anchor and news director of Rock Hill’s CN2, and Keith Monday, WSOC (Channel 9) meteorologist. They welcomed Lilah Jaye on June 26, weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. … Producers for “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” will hold auditions for potential contestants at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Wednesday at Victory Lane Indoor Karting, 2330 Tipton Drive, Charlotte. …

Charlotte native Jim Rash will host a new series, “The Writer’s Room,” debuting 10 p.m. July 29 on Sundance Channel. Rash won an Oscar last year for writing and plays the cross-dressing dean on NBC’s “Community.” … Dakota Lee, a student at The Actor’s Lab in Charlotte, has begun shooting on a studio feature, “Tammy,” starring opposite Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon. … John Hancock made the move to afternoon drive this week on WBT-AM (1110), swapping positions with Brad Krantz and Britt Whitmire, who have taken over evenings.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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