After 10 years, sportscaster Chuck Howard returns to local TV on Sunday, a more humble man.
Now you’ve seen everything: the words “Chuck Howard” and “humble” in the same sentence.
“I don’t mind admitting it,” says Howard, who was fired at WCNC (Channel 36) a decade ago after he muttered a mild expletive when a promo he was taping went awry, and somehow that outtake made the air the next morning.
His firing generated a protest both inside and outside of WCNC, and Howard figured he would bounce right back into another job.
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“I thought my phone would ring off the hook,” he says. “It didn’t. Was I arrogant and cocky to think that way? Of course.”
He’s kept busy since 2006 with a variety of jobs – radio gigs, four fun years with the NASCAR Media Group before getting laid off, three seasons on the Panthers TV network and Carolinas franchisee for the National Scouting Report, which represents up-and-coming prep athletes (and which he plans to continue doing on the side).
But there were too many afternoons sitting around the house that the high-spirited Howard wondered whether he’d ever find meaningful work again.
“It humbled me and humbles me to this day,” says Howard, 52. “I realized how much I loved working in television.”
When WJZY (Channel 46) called after the departure last month of its sports director, Anthony Flores, Howard was instantly interested.
Not only was it a chance to return to the adrenalin-rush of a newsroom, but Fox46 carries both the Panthers and NASCAR, two of Howard’s favorite beats.
Fox46 is in a rebuilding phase under its third news director, Tina Luque, after a disastrous, low-rated launch of its news department in 2014.
In addition to a deep network of contacts, Howard brings local recognition to the position and marks the second addition at Channel 46 of high-profile personalities known to Charlotte viewers after the hiring of former WCCB (Channel 18) anchor Brien Blakely in January.
Howard starts at 10 a.m. Sunday on Fox46’s pre-game Panthers show and will appear on the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.
Howard, who grew up in rural upstate New York and worked his way through cities like Erie, Pa., Scranton, Pa., and Buffalo before coming to WCNC in 1995, has watched as local stations de-emphasized sports coverage after the ascendance of ESPN and other sports networks.
Fox46 appears to be different, he says. “They place a large value on sports and have a commitment to it.”