WRAL’s Reunion Newscast A Fitting Tribute to 50 Years On the Air

WRAL-TV logo WRAL’s Reunion Newscast A Fitting Tribute to 50 Years On the Air
Reunion Anchor Team
Reunited. Former WRAL-TV anchors Bob DeBardelaben (l to r), Charlie Gaddy & Bobbie Battista join current long-time WRAL Sports Anchor Tom Suiter for the reunion newscast.

The past & future collided at WRAL-TV as three legendary broadcasters returned to join a fourth for a reunion newscast. Former anchors Charlie Gaddy and Bobbie Battista, retired weathercaster Bob DeBardelaben and current Sports Anchor Tom Suiter anchored the 6pm newscast on Friday, Nov. 18, 2006 as part of the station’s yearlong celebration of our 50th anniversary.

Gaddy has been retired for 12 years and DeBardelaben for 17, but they didn’t miss a beat.  And Battista and Gaddy easily fell back into their comfortable repartee together. 

The 80’s fashions and magnetic weather map were gone, but the team clicked together as if their heyday as WRAL’s ratings winners were just yesterday.

Debra Morgan & Bobbie Battista
Current WRAL-TV Anchor Debra Morgan (left) is face to face with the woman who was half of the first male-female anchor team in the Triangle, Bobbie Battista.
Charlie Gaddy & Tom Suiter
WRAL-TV Sports Anchor Tom Suiter (right) sings his praises of retired Anchor Charlie Gaddy during the reunion newscast.

Gaddy and Battista came into much clearer view with WRAL’s high-definition, all-digital new operation than on the grainy sets of their era of news dominance.  DeBardelaben perhaps had the most difficult job.  During his formidable tenure as “The Biggest Name in Weather” DeBardelaben used magnetic sun and cloud graphics on a stationary map.  For the reunion newscast he was introduced to the chroma key, Greg Fishel’s green screen.  The screen requires the weathercaster to look into a monitor hidden just off the viewer’s screen to see the weather map as he points to the “invisible” map on the wall behind him.  Quite a feat of coordination.  DeBardelaben has always been known for being quick on his feet, and his starring weather role on the Nov 18th newscast was no exception.

“I’m personally thrilled about this reunion because, having worked with Charlie, Bobbie and Bob several decades ago, it will be a special treat to see them back on WRAL-TV, even if it’s just for one night,” Jim Hefner

Tom Suiter has spent all of his 34 year broadcasting career at WRAL-TV.  When he came on board Suiter said that about the only thing he knew about television was how to turn on the set.  He started at $90 a week with no experience on the air. 

Bob DeBardelaben
WRAL-TV Weatherman Bob DeBardelaben (left) spent three decades at the station, retiring in 1989. Current Anchor Bill Leslie has logged in 27 years at WRAL of his own.
Bobbie Battista, Charlie Gaddy & Tom Suiter
Bobbie Battista (left) & Charlie Gaddy (center) were famous for telling jokes during commercial breaks, and the fun continues over two decades later.

Bobbie Battista joined WRAL in 1974 as Jim Goodmon’s secretary.  He is now CBC’s President & CEO but at the time had just stepped up to the role of President.  She moved on to the newsroom as a morning news producer.  She then became part of the Triangle’s first male-female anchor duo with Gaddy.  

Gaddy spent 24-years at WRAL-TV, the anchor of the newscast in every sense of the word.  He reported on everything from hurricanes to the State Fair, winning numerous awards and inductions to the N.C. Broadcasters Hall of Fame.  He was an advocate for, and active in, community service while at the station, a mission which he continues today.

DeBardelaben started out as the host of the “Dialing for Dollars” call-in program, gaining a large following among Triangle viewers.  He spent three decades at the station, most of which were spent as WRAL’s full time weather anchor.  He was, and still is, wildly popular, viewed as a celebrity of Hollywood proportions here in Raleigh.

Bob DeBardelaben & Greg Fishel
Never has such weather power been gathered in one studio! Former powerhouse WRAL weatherman Bob DeBardelaben (left) teams up with current weather blockbuster Greg Fishel behind the scenes.

Battista left WRAL in 1981 to join CNN as one of its original anchors.  DeBardelaben retired from WRAL in 1989, and Gaddy followed in 1994.  Gaddy frequently hosts some of the station’s “WRAListens” installments and the occasional documentary.  And DeBardelaben says he is still recognized and asked, “How’s the weather, Bob?”

Suiter still graces the sports desk every night. He quickly made a name for himself in sports, helping creating WRAL’s popular Football Friday.  He and his team began covering high school football on the news in 1981, and then evolved that coverage into a half-hour program that celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Bob DeBardelaben
Known as “The Biggest Name in Weather,” Bob DeBardelaben forecasted the weather at WRAL until his retirement in 1989.
Newscast Finale
The current WRAL-TV evening anchor team surrounds the reunion newscast anchors for a round of applause at the end of the broadcast.

Bobbie Battista & Charlie Gaddy
Bobbie Battista (left) & Charlie Gaddy are old friends as they return to the anchor desk together.
For more about the 50 year history of WRAL-TV and some of its legendary anchors, visit the WRAL 50th Anniversary Interactive on WRAL.com

Thanks to NMG’s Nathan Clendenin for these capcom photos.

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