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Morgan Fogarty says her gut told her to come home to Charlotte

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

Not a good fit is the way Morgan Fogarty explains her boomerang summer.

Fogarty, anchor on WCCB’s (Channel 18) 10 p.m. newscast, left Charlotte for New York, where she went to work in August for the start-up Al Jazeera America network. Before the month was up, she’d called WCCB to see whether she could get her old job back. Wednesday night she returned to the lineup with co-anchors Kirk Hawkins and Christine Noel. She’d been gone about six weeks.

“That’s shorter than my maternity leave,” she says.

“It’s interesting,” says Jim White, WCCB’s station manager. “You never know in your career what the next step is going to look like. ... This was a surprise to us. This is a big thing for us.”

Fogarty started on the station’s morning show in 2005, then moved up to host the evening magazine “Edge” with Christopher Frederick, better known as Brotha Fred and now a morning radio personality in Chicago. She was one of WCCB’s longest-serving personalities and the best known.

Fogarty’s return boosts WCCB’s image in the three-way ratings race at 10 p.m. moving into the key fall sweeps. WCCB lost its Fox network affiliation in July and has switched to the lesser-watched CW network, which is expected to significantly diminish its lead-in ratings to the late news. It also gives the station options as it pursues a strategy to focus more locally.

“I think for a lot of television people, there’s always that itch you want to scratch about life beyond local TV. And I scratched it,” Fogarty says.

“I really missed Charlotte. My husband really missed Charlotte. We adored it here. That feeling really hit home when we weren’t here. You don’t realize what you don’t have until you don’t have it any more.”

It wasn’t long after getting to New York and seeing what the lifestyle and commute would be like, Fogarty says, she realized it just wasn’t for her. Al Jazeera was a remarkable place to work and its staff was excellent, she says, but she and her husband wanted to come back.

They have a 1-year-old son and are planning to expand their family at some point, she says, and she got a gut feeling that New York wasn’t the place for them.

Yes, they’d sold their house in Charlotte, but she says they were ready for a new one anyway.

Yes, her husband Jeremy had quit his job here, but found a better one in New York, and the company doesn’t mind if he works remotely. He’s in computer software sales.

After deciding to leave New York, she says, they started thinking about what they’d do next. They talked briefly about looking for work in another town.

“My husband said, ‘I want to go back to Charlotte.’ He has whiplash from all of this. I wanted to make this right for him as well as myself. When he said he wanted to go to Charlotte and I wanted to go to Charlotte, there was no more discussion. It’s always been an understanding in our family that Charlotte is an ideal location.”

Fogarty and her husband first met as fifth-graders at Bucher Elementary School in their hometown of Lancaster, Pa. They dated briefly in college, then got back together after she moved to Charlotte.

Fogarty, 32, says she learned from all this. “It’s been a short experience, but full of lessons. You have to go with your gut even if it’s scary, even it doesn’t make sense at the time. Family comes first.”

And looking ahead, what does she expect in the future?

“I will be in Charlotte as long as Charlotte will have me.”

Media Movers

Reporter Pamela Escobar joins WBTV (Channel 3) from an independent station in Reading, Pa. ... Former WCNC (Channel 36) morning anchor Kellie Patterson started this week in the same position at the ABC affiliate in Denver. ....

Reporter Kay Johnson is leaving WBTV after three years to join Wingate University’s WUTV (Channel 22 on Time Warner Cable in Union County). She will be executive producer, hosting shows and developing stories about the university. She’ll join WBTV veteran Jeff Atkinson at Wingate, where he’s communications director.

WSOC (Channel 9) meteorologist Vicki Graf is doing double duty this fall. She’s featured on the 11 a.m. Saturday show “The Whiparound” on ESPNU, delivering weather forecasts for college game cities. ESPNU is based in Ballantyne. ... Paul Schadt, morning host on WKKT-FM (“Kat” 96.9), is one of five nominees for major market radio personality in the Country Music Awards, which are announced Nov. 6. ...

Creative Loafing’s John Grooms wins a first-place award from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for political commentary. ... Creative Loafing publisher Wendy Goldstein announced her retirement this week from the paper she’s led for three years. Her retirement came four months after the departure of editor Mark Kemp. Creative Loafing is owned by Nashville, Tenn.-based SouthComm Inc., which folded its Charlotte society magazine NFocus this summer after 13 issues. ...

Laurabree Monday returns to the anchor desk next week at Rock Hill’s CN2 after maternity leave. ... Matthew Sparks of Salisbury won $59,000 this week on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.” Sparks is a senior at Catawba College studying history, religion and philosophy.

“On location: the Charlotte Area Film Industry” will be the topic for the next WFAE (NPR, 90.7) public conversation at 7 p.m. Thursday at Discovery Place. Panelists will be “Homeland” prop master Gillian Albinski, “Homeland” producer Michael Klick, Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation and Aaron Syrett of the N.C. Film Office. WFAE’s Ben Bradford will moderate.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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