JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Past employees spoke about WJHL’s history and how some aspects haven’t changed, even after 70 years.
Rob Pratt began his broadcast career at WJHL straight out of college in September of 1993 and was at the station until 1999.
Pratt told many stories, but one sticks out: Boo Boo the bear that wouldn’t budge. This was a series of stories he did about a baby black bear that was stuck in a tree in Telford. He said this was the first series he got an AP award for.
“And it reminded me that while you cover the big trials, you cover important people when they come here — some everyday event sometimes can capture people’s imaginations,” Pratt said. “And if you tell that story well, it helps you connect with people.”
Tony Treadway was a former assistant sports director and anchor in the 1980s. One of his proudest moments was broadcasting a gubernatorial debate in Johnson City.
“And it was very exciting to be the first doing things,” Treadway said. “And that’s what always turned me on is let’s just push the envelope and see what else can happen.”
While they remember the people they met during their time at WJHL, both Pratt and Treadway said the most important aspect to celebrate is the work we do every day.
“I cherish the opportunity to be able to be a part of WJHL’s history,” Treadway said. “It’s certainly a linchpin of communications here in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia, Western North Carolina. And just to play a small role in that was a wonderful thing that I will always remember.”
“To me, that’s what being a news journalist was about: showing people conditions and lives outside of their own, helping them understand that, and often bringing people together,” Pratt said.
Other past employees have moved to other areas of the state and country, but still fondly remember their time at WJHL.
Robin Wilhoit was Robin Sells when she was a reporter at WJHL and tells the story of how she met her husband.
“Set up for the interview and began asking him questions and during that time, kept thinking, ‘wow, he’s really cute,'” said Wilhoit. “He asked me out on a date. Fast forward, we just celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. So, I got a great story out of it and a great husband as well.”
Nate Morabito was an investigative reporter and talked about doing a story on one of the three girls who escaped from their abductee, Ariel Castro, in Cleveland, Ohio.
“It just so happened that I was at the right place at the right time,” Morabito said. “I was inside Amanda Berry’s family’s home in Carter County when the formally missing girl called those family members. I got to hear her voice and share in the relief and joy of that moment and then share all of that with you.”
Others such as former anchor Amy Kaufeldt, former anchor and reporter Holly Thompson, and former reporter J.D. Miles sent their congratulations and best wishes to old friends.
Some behind-the-scenes workers sent their gratitude for the people and time they’ve spent.
Michael Williams used to work as a production manager.
“My very first job was at WJHL-TV,” Williams said. “I had no idea what to expect, but I quickly found out that I was going to be working with a bunch of great people who were going to help me learn a lot of things that helped me in my career. And I had a tremendous amount of fun doing it.”
Darin Cox worked at the station 30 years ago in production and promotions. He shared a story about working with former anchor Tim Cable. He told how he was the “Pointer Possy Chairman Darin Cox” as he brought in pointer items for Cable for the morning weather.
“I live in Cincinnati now, but honestly 30 years later, WJHL will always be my station and Johnson City will always be my home,” said Cox. “Congratulations on 70 years!”