WRAL's Bob Holliday to step down
Posted June 26, 2009
Bob Holliday, whose thoughtful approach has marked his work at 18 Final Fours and numerous other major events, is leaving WRAL after 28 years of anchoring and reporting.
Holliday has accepted a voluntary severance package offered by Capitol Broadcasting Company, which owns the television station.
His final show as a WRAL anchor will be today at 6 p.m.
Holliday, a high school basketball player in the late 1960s, has retained his passion and enthusiasm for his craft while covering decades of stories and games. He knows how to box out other reporters to get the interviews he needs and takes a high school football game just as seriously as an ACC championship.
"Working at WRAL has been one of the great experiences of my life,” Holliday said. “I’d like to thank the management for the freedom they’ve given us through the years, and the support they’ve given us through the years, to cover the top stories in what I consider the greatest sports market in America.
“To my co-workers: Working alongside all of you these past 28 years has been an honor. You are the best in our business, and I will remain your most ardent fan. And most of all, to the viewers: Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the kind words about our coverage. I have tried to represent you in the stories and coverage we have done. For 28 years, I’ve had the best seat in the house. I am forever indebted to all of you.”
Known as "The Captain” in the Sports department, Holliday has served as sports anchor of WRAL’s highly successful weekend newscast since 1981, and he oversaw WRAL’s sports coverage during most of his tenure.
A University of North Carolina graduate, Holliday spent 10 years with the Village Companies, as news and sports director at WCHL radio. His time there included several years on the Tar Heel Sports Network.
Holliday moved to WRAL in 1981 and quickly made his mark as the station’s coverage grew. WRAL anchor Tom Suiter, with Holliday handling the logistics, launched the ambitious Football Friday show that covered 28 high school football games. That show became a WRAL staple and an enormous hit with viewers.
"Bob and I worked side by side for 28 years," Suiter said. "It got so that he knew what I was thinking almost before I did and vice versa. It will be so empty now walking into our Sports department and not seeing him. He has been such a huge part of my life at WRAL.
"Bob is such a good broadcaster and excellent story teller. He knows how to put words to pictures as well as anyone in the business. Very few broadcasters write as well as Bob."
Holliday has been a mainstay on the weekend news, knowing how to balance the ever-growing sports news in the market with information viewers needed on the national scene.
"Bob Holliday is a walking encyclopedia on sports in North Carolina,” said Rick Gall, WRAL News Director. “Most coaches and athletes know him on a first-name basis. His knowledge, experience, quality reporting and anchoring skills will certainly be missed.”
Holliday has been an integral part of WRAL’s coverage for decades, whether it was a U.S. Open in Pinehurst, covering Dale Earnhardt’s stunning death at Daytona, or reporting from the Final Four 18 times for WRAL.
“All the NCAA championships I covered were memorable - UNC in 1982, NCSU in 1983, Duke in '91 and '92, UNC in '93 and UNC in 2005,” Holliday said. “In all of these events, I have great memories of writing stories on deadline, battling locker room crowds to get joyful and sometimes tearful soundbites, and doing live reports from the scene.
“No one who saw it will ever forget my live report from Albuquerque, where the temperature suddenly dropped into the low 20s, and I, having only packed a sportcoat for the trip, told folks back in Raleigh about the Pack’s great victory through clenched, chattering teeth.
“The UNC win in ’82 was also memorable. Jay Jennings and I talked with Michael Jordan on Bourbon Street. We still have the tape. And obviously covering both of Duke’s back-to-back championships, a rare feat in college basketball, is a high point.”
Holliday was in the Carolina Hurricanes' locker room in 2006 for “the wildest celebration I’ve ever seen” after the Canes won the Stanley Cup. He was covering the Daytona 500 the day Dale Earnardt died. And he contributed to efforts that won four Emmy Awards, including a marvelous special on the history of Reynolds Coliseum.
He interviewed Dean Smith soon after Smith retired from North Carolina in 1997 – the only local television reporter to be granted an interview at the time.
"Bob and I have worked on so many stories together. When I was a photographer, we spent hours on the road in conversation. I learned so much from Bob and he has helped me immensely," WRAL anchor Jeff Gravley said.
"Before I left to take a job in Cleveland in 2000, Bob unselfishly offered me his anchor position. There was no way I was going to take him up on that. Bob was a fixture at WRAL and will continue to be long after he takes off the microphone."
Holliday has covered high school every Friday in the fall, venturing to Cumberland County and SouthWest Edgecombe and towns big and small across the WRAL viewing area.
Holliday described covering high school football as “magical” and said. “I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.”
Suiter, said of Holliday, "I have shared so much with Bob Holliday for such a long time. We have agreed and disagreed, argued and laughed, just like any family. And I consider Bob to be family.
"It has been a true honor, a privilege to have worked with him. He is a dear friend."