TV reporter follows a pull to the pulpit

Channel 9 reporter Ron Magnuson is now working two jobs – Salisbury bureau chief for the TV station during the week and Southern Baptist pastor on weekends.

He's the second Charlotte broadcast personality this year to pursue the ministry. Chris Justice left WCNC (Channel 36) in April to become full-time pastor of Lee Park Baptist Church in Monroe.

Magnuson, who intends to continue working for the station for now, says he has felt a pull toward the pulpit for years. As the son of a 50-year Baptist minister, Magnuson himself was studying for the church as an undergraduate at Bob Jones University, but switched majors into broadcasting.

“Halfway through school, I decided to do something different. I took a shot at radio-TV,” says Magnuson, 37. After a variety of broadcasting jobs, he joined Channel 9 in 2002.

It was a blind date in August 2006 that put him back on the path toward the ministry. Andrea Bolanos' co-workers at Bank of America set them up for lunch one Sunday after church.

“An hour lunch turned into a 10-hour conversation,” she says. “I think the people at the restaurant were wanting us to rent the booth.”

Her grandfather was a Baptist minister in her native Colombia. Her family moved to the United States when she was 3. She grew up singing and playing the piano for Baptist services. She says she always felt she would marry a preacher.

After they were married in October 2006, their pastor in Salisbury motivated Magnuson back toward preaching. “We decided to dive in head first and see what it would take to start a church ourselves,” Magnuson says.

They have been worshiping for months at the Cabarrus County Baptist Association headquarters in Concord with a core group of more than a dozen congregants. Magnuson is already a licensed minister and plans to start work soon on a master's degree in theology or counseling. His wife, now 32, is heading the music ministry.

Their church will be named Vertical Horizons Church, though they will continue to meet at the Baptist Association for the near term. Magnuson hopes that steady growth will allow them to start a church building fund within a year.

“I love what I do for Channel 9, but I want to do something that has rewards for eternity, not just rewards on earth,” Magnuson says. “Most of my stories are crime and bad things happening. I see a lot of young people who are growing up and getting involved with the wrong people and doing the wrong things. …

“I see things like this and think maybe if I can do something to help a young person not go the way of drugs and alcohol, and choose a life to follow God, I'll be happier.”

Open call for models today

“America's Next Top Model” is holding auditions at the Renaissance Charlotte South Park, 5501 Carnegie Blvd., 11 a.m.-3 p.m. today. Bring three photos, including a swimsuit shot. Applicants must be between 18 and 27, and at least 5-foot-7.

Media Movers

Joining WCNC (Channel 36) as 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. co-anchor with Bobby Sisk is Jennifer Copeland, who joins the station from the ABC affiliate in Champaign, Ill. … Danny Fontana takes over the 7 to 9 a.m. shift at WDYT AM (1220), followed by an hour of an as-yet-to-be-named show with Molly Carroll and Bo Thompson. Sean Hannity moves to the 3 to 6 p.m. slot …

Charlotte's CBS cluster of stations did well in the annual nominations for Radio & Records magazine's industry awards. Chele Fassig was nominated for promotion director of the year; DJ Buttafingaz of WPEG FM for urban mix show programmer; D.J. Stout of WSOC FM for operations manager; Rick McCracken of WSOC FM as music director; Terri Avery of WPEG FM as urban operations manager; Deon Cole of WPEG FM as urban music director. “No Limit Larry & the Morning Maddhouse” on WPEG FM and “Ace & T.J.” were nominated for show of the year in their respective formats. And WPEG FM, WBAV FM, WSOC FM and WNKS FM were nominated for station of the year in their respective formats. Also nominated at Radio One's WPZS FM was Alvin Stowe as gospel program director. Winners will be announced in September at the R&R convention …

Winner of “Gimme the Mike Charlotte” on WSOC (Channel 9) this week was Adrienne Vaulx of Charlotte. Other finalists were Nichole Broome of Gastonia, Marvin Curry of Charlotte, Oliver Highman of Cornelius, Shelly Burris of Richfield, Malachi Stanley of Charlotte and Shannon Roschke of Huntersville.