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David Crabtree delays retirement, will stay at WRAL through 2020

November 7, 2018

Great news for loyal WRAL-TV viewers: longtime anchor David Crabtree has postponed his planned retirement and will remain on the anchor desk for another two years. The extension will see Crabtree manning the anchor desk for the top-rated newscasts at 5 and 6 p.m. on WRAL-TV at least through December 2020. Crabtree’s original retirement announcement was made in September of 2017 with a planned departure next month.

Why the change of heart? Crabtree points to recent hurricane coverage as one reason. “I’ve got some unfinished business here. There are still interviews to be had and a community to be served.”

Crabtree explains the impact of working in the field post Hurricane Florence. “I was re-energized during coverage. Where else do you get an opportunity to make a difference for people and to have THEM make such a difference in you? I felt summoned to continue to do this work.”

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David Crabtree has worked in local news for more than 36 years delivering the news on radio, television and the web. He has been with WRAL-TV for 24 years and has been WRAL’s lead anchor since taking over the role from Charlie Gaddy in 1994.

David is simply one of the best news anchors in the country,” explained Joel Davis, vice president and general manager for WRAL-TV and FOX 50. “His ability to react to the content in our newscasts in real time shows his natural curiosity and makes the newscast better. It’s one of the reasons the newscasts he anchors are the most watched in the market.”

Throughout his news career, Crabtree has been recognized for his outstanding field reporting and anchoring. Crabtree has reported from the Vatican, South Africa and Jerusalem, and anchored the news in Little Washington, Denver and Raleigh, in addition to reporting from the most recent 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

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We look forward to David continuing his exemplary service to the people and communities across our viewing area through exceptional storytelling and outstanding anchoring,” says WRAL-TV News Director Rick Gall. “We’re so fortunate and grateful that he’s extending his extraordinary WRAL legacy.”

As a boy growing up just north of Nashville, Tenn., Crabtree fell in love with broadcasting. The mystery and magic of radio captured his imagination when he was 13. Three years later, he talked himself into a unofficial internship at the Top 40 giant of Nashville, WKDA-AM.

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In 1967, WGNS in Murfreesboro, Tenn., would be his first paying job in radio. To this day, he recalls that 90 cents per hour gig as “one of the best jobs I ever had!”

Crabtree took a detour from broadcast news to work as press secretary for the Tennessee House of Representatives. As an idealistic 25-year-old, Crabtree was interested in politics “to make a difference in the lives of people, for the better,” he says. That ideal was severely tested when his boss was indicted on corruption charges, and Crabtree was called to testify. “It was a form of truth-telling that forever changed my world,” he recalls.

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After that, Crabtree took a detour through jobs in sales, management, brokerage, but nothing filled the void of broadcast journalism.

In the fall of 1982, Crabtree was offered his first job in television, as a general assignment reporter at WNGE (soon to become WKRN) in his native Nashville. He later worked producing documentaries in the Middle East, and as an anchor in Washington, N.C., and Denver before getting the call to come to WRAL.

“I thought I would be here three years, four tops,” he remembers.

Crabtree’s award-winning legacy at WRAL-TV includes interviews with presidents and papal visits, political conventions, dozens of hurricanes, a Final Four and John Glenn’s return to space. He traveled across the world to cover the funerals for Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.

Crabtree is the winner of 15 Emmys (11 at WRAL), Columbia University’s Alfred I. duPont Award for the best in reporting and storytelling with a public impact, and the Catholic Press Association’s Gabriel Award. He was North Carolina’s Journalist of the Year four consecutive years and, in 2014 and 2018, received the Best Anchor award from the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters.

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