Kenny Hawkins celebrates 35 years of sports coverage at WJHL


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — One of the veterans here at News Channel 11 is award-winning several times over.

Kenny Hawkins started working at the station long before a lot of our current reporters were even born. He worked hard to get to where he is and makes each day fun.

You know him by his voice or his smile. Or better yet: that laugh.

Hawkins has been on the air at WJHL for more than three decades.

“When I walked into this building in 86-87, I didn’t think I’d be here 35 years later,” he said.

As a videographer, he was promised a shot at the sports desk. And it was there he stayed.

“I’ve had an opportunity to talk to some of sports’ biggest names: Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan,” he said. “And what makes the job so great is you might be talking to them one day, and then the next day you might be talking to little leaguers, high school kids, college kids. That’s what makes this job so great. It’s not the same thing every day.”

But every day, he gives viewers an incredible look into local athletes and events.

“We give you something that you can’t get anywhere else, and that’s hyper-local sports. And that’s what I enjoy doing,” Hawkins said.

“I tell people all the time it’s really the greatest job in the world. Because if I wasn’t working, I’d probably be there anyway because I’m such a huge sports fan. It’s like icing on the cake when you can attend AND get paid. Oh yeah, don’t forget, get fed, as well. You can’t beat that. That’s a good gig,” he said with a laugh.

So many viewers in the Tri-Cities tune in on Friday nights in the fall for the award-winning Touchdown Friday Night, but you won’t hear Kenny taking credit. He says it’s the videographers “who go out on Friday night and brave the elements” to shoot high school football games.

And we’ve got to talk about the hair. So many amazing styles through the years. Here’s what Kenny said when asked if he would bring any of them back.

“I’ve always been a big guy. So, the only thing that’s really changed has been my hairstyle,” he said laughing. “I’ve come in here with an afro, I’ve come in with a Jheri curl, a lot of you don’t know what I’m talking about, and I have what I have now. And that’s what I’m stuck with because that’s just natural. I’m hanging on to every curl I have left.”

When asked what has kept him around for 35 years, he answers in true Kenny style.

“I’ve not figured out how to take the ankle bracelet off,” he said. “I’m kidding.”

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