2017 marks Nate Morabito’s 13-year anniversary at WJHL-TV. A decade after Nate arrived in Johnson City as a quiet 23-year-old, he now spends his days speaking up for our viewers as WJHL’s Community Watchdog. In that role, he holds the powerful accountable, exposes government waste and uncovers corruption.
Named an Investigative Reporters and Editors Award Finalist, Nate’s investigations have prompted change. Most recently, his investigation into the Tennessee Board of Nursing’s disciplinary process resulted in a new state law. His investigation into the past handling of abuse cases at a state-run facility for people with disabilities ended with the arrest and guilty plea of a former employee, a police chief’s apology and a change in reporting protocol. His reports on elder abuse prompted a new state law in Tennessee complete with tougher penalties for abusers. His stories about people who live in public housing with high incomes prompted a federal audit and a change in federal law. Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation and charged the owner of an area cemetery after Nate’s investigation uncovered widespread concerns.
Aside from his investigations, some of the stories Nate will probably never forget include covering President Obama’s visits to the area, the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech and the Washington County, TN school bus crash that injured two dozen children.
Before moving to the Tri-Cities, Nate spent a year reporting in Brainerd, Minnesota at KAWB-TV. Minnesota’s bitter 30-below temperatures were a big change from the warm weather of Charlotte, North Carolina, his hometown.
Although Nate has lived in the south for most of his life, his roots are in the north. Nate was born in Upstate New York and returned there to attend college at Syracuse University. He graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in December 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcast Journalism. He recently graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Master’s Degree in Digital Marketing. He also works at ETSU as an adjunct journalism instructor.
Nate bleeds orange, Syracuse Orange that is. He is an avid sports fan and especially enjoys SU basketball. More than anything, he enjoys spending time with his family. Nate volunteers the American Cancer Society.
IRE named Nate and his colleagues a finalist in 2017 for their work exposing concerns about past abuse at Greene Valley Developmental Center.
Nate is a three-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow Regional Award for Investigative Reporting.
The Tennessee Associated Press Broadcasters and Media Editors awarded Nate the 2017 John Seigenthaler Award of Excellence. He also received the award for AP Television Journalist of the Year in 2016. In addition, the Tennessee AP has named him Best Television Reporter multiple times and has honored him several times for Best Investigative Reporting.
The Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole also honored Nate with the 2012 “Voice of the Victim” award. Nate is also an Eagle Scout.
If you have a story idea or want Nate to investigate something for you, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.Here are some fun facts answered by Nate:
Favorite story covered at WJHL: Our 2014 story about Allan Cole has to be one of my favorites. We investigated after the 52-year-old with Down Syndrome got caught up in the middle of a contract dispute between two agencies and lost his job as a result. A local restaurant saw our story and hired him. We got to be there on his first day at his new job! I still smile every time I think of that day. (Previously laid off VA cafeteria worker gets new job)
Celebrity you’ve either met or seen while on the job: President Obama and I made eye contact while I was covering one of his two visits to the area.
Sports you played in high school, college or both: I played golf and ran cross country in high school (at one time I could run a mile in under six minutes). Not sure how, but I lettered in both. I was fairly average. I also played rec league basketball. Basketball is by far my favorite sport, but I was never good enough to make my high school team.
First concert you attended (what band/musician/when/where): Sting. When I was a kid, my aunt and uncle took my cousin and I to see the former frontman of The Police at Darien Lake Amusement Park in western NY. To this day, I still consider it one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended (second to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in Charlotte in 2006).
First job you ever had: My first job was grilling hamburgers at my neighborhood swimming pool grill (I love to cook). My dad and I opened up the concession stand together. To this day, it’s still in business!
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