There were so many historic personalities gathered in one room at Friday’s Broadcast Hall of Fame induction that veteran Charlotte TV executive John Hutchinson turned to Ty Boyd, former morning host on WBT, and said, “This must be what it’s like when you get to heaven.”
Then he added: “But I’m not sure you’ll make it, Ty.”
Inducted into the first hall of fame class, during a luncheon at the Charlotte City Club, were “Chatty Hattie” Leeper, who became the first African-American woman on Charlotte radio in the ’50s; WCNC forecaster Larry Sprinkle; evangelist Billy Graham; the late Grady Cole, a 30-year WBT-AM (1110) morning personality; the late Charles Crutchfield, WBT and WBTV (Channel 3) pioneer; the late Betty Feezor, WBTV homemaking show host; the late Earle Gluck, WBT and WSOC-AM founder; Sis Kaplan and her late husband, Stan, Big WAYS and WROQ-FM founders; the late CBS correspondent Charles Kuralt, who interned at WBT and later worked at The Charlotte News; and longtime Charlotte news anchors Doug Mayes and Bill Walker.
A who’s-who of present and former Charlotte broadcasters attended, including Debi Faubion, Bo Thompson, Jim Babb, Beatrice Thompson, Steve Crump, John Hancock, Sonja Gantt, Jeff Rivenbark, John Carter, H.A. Thompson, Steve Udelson, Harold Johnson, Derek James, Kristine Zell, Terrance Bates, Don Griffin, Chris Clackum, David Rhew and Moira Quinn.
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Representatives of the city’s TV stations and major radio groups nominated in all 32 personalities for the first class. A second round of inductions will likely follow next year.
Artifacts and displays for the hall will be in the main conference room at WTVI’s (Channel 42) studios off Independence Boulevard.
CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Bill Whitaker, a Pennsylvania native who worked at WBTV early in his career for three years beginning in 1981, gave the keynote address and told stories about working here in those days.
One time he was sent to the Blue Ridge, Whitaker said, for an interview with someone with a strong mountain accent. When he returned, he suggested to a producer that they superimpose the man’s quotes on the screen because he was so hard to understand.
“Honey,” she replied, “people here understand him better than they understand you.”
Faubion told a story about succeeding Meg MacDonald as prime Channel 9 co-anchor with Walker in 1990. She said McDonald left her a note with one piece of advice: “Trust Walker.”
Walker and Faubion worked together for 15 years, the longest run in Charlotte of any co-anchors.