Media Scene

WBTV pulling plug on ‘Carolina Camera’

It’s time to close the shutter once more on “Carolina Camera.”

WBTV (Channel 3), which reincarnated its traveling feature program four years ago and made it into a monthly prime-time series hosted by morning anchors John Carter and Christine Nelson and produced by Kevin Marlow, is canceling it.

It was doing well, says news director Dennis Milligan, but the station has decided to use the people who worked on the show on other things. No jobs are being cut, he says.

“We can use that manpower for better and stronger news in other time periods,” he says. Carter and Nelson have already expanded their morning duties by doing a two-hour newscast from 7 to 9 a.m. on WBTV’s subchannel 3.2, which carries the Bounce channel.

Also going away is “The Point After,” the Sunday night sports program hosted by Delano Little. It was launched about six years ago and featured call-ins from fans, particularly during the Panthers season. “It was a challenge because you’d sometimes get somebody who enjoyed the game a little too much,” Milligan says.

Advertising demand for the show was relatively weak because of the late hour of the broadcast, often pushed after midnight when NFL games in the early evening ran late, he says. One benefit of the change is being able to use Little more nights a week on the 8 p.m. WBTV news show he anchors with Brigida Mack, also on the Bounce channel, because he doesn’t have to work Sunday nights, Milligan says.

“Carolina Camera,” chronicling the quirky corners of the two states, has had a long life on WBTV.

Launched by C.J. Underwood in 1970, it focused on stories about unusual people and places in the Carolinas. It faded away in the mid-’90s, replaced by more serious fare. WCNC (Channel 36) copied it with an eight-year run of the “Carolina Traveler” series with Mike Redding and photographer Andy Benton, but it was canceled in 2009.

Other reporters who’d hosted “Carolina Camera” through the years included Mark Garrison, Ken Eudy and Andrew Schorr.

One of Carter’s favorite stories – he says they’re all his favorites – was when he returned to Tweetsie Railroad and got back in to the marshal costume for a day, re-creating the role he played in a summer job during college. He’s just wrapped another story on a 103-year-old Rock Hill woman who still lives in her own house, goes bowling and dancing and doesn’t take any medicines.

They are working on the final insallments for the program. One airs at 9 p.m. Monday on Channel 3 and four will be shown in June. Then that’s it – for a while, at least.

“It’ll be back,” says Carter. “People love ‘Carolina Camera.’ ”

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