This is how glamorous the TV news business really is – Scott Wickersham remembers when people began recognizing him.
It was about 20 years ago, and he was working as a weekend anchor at the small Fox affiliate in gray, snowy Lansing, Mich.
“People would ask, ‘Don’t I know you?’” as he waited tables at the local Ruby Tuesday to supplement his meager TV salary. “Actually,” Wickersham says, “the money at Ruby Tuesday was pretty good.”
Wickersham’s recognition factor is much higher nowadays in Charlotte. He has been promoted to prime evening anchor beside Erica Bryant at No. 1 WSOC (Channel 9). More than 100,000 viewers watch their 6 p.m. weekday broadcast.
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Wickersham replaces Blair Miller, who replaced Vince Coakley, who replaced Bill Walker. Walker’s 37-year career at WSOC ended in 2005, and Wickersham says he still gets questions from viewers about him and his longtime co-anchor Debi Faubion, who retired from Channel 9 in 2009.
Following such well-known personalities is daunting, “but you feel honored by it,” Wickersham says.
“I’ve watched Scott grow as a leader in the newsroom,” says Julie Szulczewski, WSOC’s news director. “He’s the right person at the right time.”
Wickersham, 42, grew up in South Lyon, Mich., outside Detroit, son of a steelworker. He still likes to go home to go fishing with high school pals but has no interest in moving back North.
“My blood has thinned. Up there, you realize why bowling alleys were invented – they give people something to do in the winters.”
After getting a degree at Central Michigan University, Wickersham got a $4.25-an-hour production assistant job at the Detroit NBC affiliate, which led to a TV writing job. From there, he went to Lansing and Buffalo, N.Y.
He then got hired at WLOS (Channel 13) in Asheville, where he discovered two things he found extraordinary – temperate weather and co-worker Candice Little. He fell in love with both and married one.
They moved to Charlotte in 2005, where Little joined the WCCB (Channel 18) morning show for a time beside Beth Troutman, now an anchor at WCNC (Channel 36).
Wickersham replaced Cullen Ferguson, who retired after 20 years on the Channel 9 morning show. Wickersham moved up to the “Whistleblower 9” beat and anchor duties. Last month, he was named to the prime co-anchor job.
He and Little have two daughters, ages 4 and 8, and he says Charlotte is the place they’d like to raise them.
They should turn out to be interesting women – Little, who was Miss Georgia 1997, likes to fuss about how the girls dress, he says; Wickersham, the small-town Midwestern kid, likes to take them fly fishing.