WRAL Team Rio Shares Tales from Their Olympic Experience

WRAL Team Rio

WRAL-TV’s Team Rio talks to their colleagues about their amazing Olympic adventure in Studio A on Tuesday, August 26, 2016 (l to r): Brad Simmons, Jeff Gravley, Renee Chou, Ed Wilson, Debra Morgan & Keith Baker.

The Super Six is back in the saddle again.  Back on American soil, the members of WRAL-TV’s Team Rio came back to the station for work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.  To welcome them, and give all staffers a chance to hear from the Super Six, WRAL hosted a meeting in Studio A at 1:30pm.  WRAL-TV Photojournalists Ed Wilson, Keith Baker & Brad Simmons, along with WRAL-TV Anchors Debra Morgan, Renee Chou & Jeff Gravley sat front and center to share a few stories from their journey and to answer questions from their co-workers.

“I appreciate the company sending us,” said WRAL-TV Photojournalist Ed Wilson.  “I hope we did you guys proud.”

Watch clips from WRAL’s Team Rio talking to their co-workers about their Olympic adventure:

Renee Chou

WRAL-TV Team Rio member Renee Chou said, “What really thrilled me was working with NBC and having access to the athletes.” She said US swimmer Katie Ledecky was her favorite interview.

Rio, Ratings Gold
As it turns out, their work in Rio helped bring Olympic-sized ratings to WRAL.  This was the first year since 1984 that WRAL-TV carried the Summer Olympics, and viewers tuned in.

“Raleigh was the ONLY market among the 56 largest TV markets where ratings for Olympics coverage went UP and not down,” posted Chou.  “Very cool.”

Send Me!
A very enthusiastic Morgan said the minute she found out WRAL was becoming an NBC affiliate in February, she immediately called Rick Gall and told him, “I want to cover the Olympics.”

In fact, when WRAL-TV Producer Kevin Shand asked the Team during the Q&A portion of the meeting, “Are you ready for Japan?” Morgan immediately shouted, “Yes!”

“The athletes were so real,” she said.  “They didn’t give canned responses.  I loved the real people we were able to talk to.”

Morgan credited the WRAL staffers in Studio A for all their hard work.  She told the crowd that their group in Rio had put together stories, but that the folks back at the Big 5 had put the stories on the air, made their work possible, and done a great job airing the Olympics back home.

“This was one of the most awesome times of my life,” she said.

Renee Chou, Ed Wilson & Debra Morgan

“We got to go to Uruguay!” WRAL-TV Team Rio member Ed Wilson laughs about their flight delays, detours and lost luggage on the trip to Rio with Renee Chou (left) & Debra Morgan.

Capturing Highs and Lows
“Getting caught up in the Olympics movement was something I’ll remember forever,” said Gravley.  “The six of us will always have the bond of the Olympics together.”

Team Rio spoke of the excitement of seeing athletes in the “mix zone” after winning medals and competing.  Their joy and enthusiasm was infectious.

However Gravley said they also saw the other side, the athletes who’d lost or had crushing disappointments.

“How do you handle the most disappointment moments of your life?” Gravley said as he spoke of interviewing runner Ronnie Ash, who has ties to the Triangle.  Gravley was impressed to how Ash reacted with class, when he answered questions about tripping over his last hurdle.  (See Gravley’s piece on WRALSportsFan.com, link below, for more of his comments about Ash.)

WRALSportsFan.com:  Rio mission accomplished

Gravley said Team Rio must have each walked 100 miles over their trip, since the buses were no longer running after they wrapped their reports for the day at midnight.

But blisters, sprained ankles, temporarily lost luggage and all, Team Rio truly had the experience of a lifetime.

“It was all a celebration and so much fun,” said Morgan of Rio and the crowds at the Olympics.

The spirit of togetherness of the athletes and fans from all over the world coming together made an indelible impression.

SLIDESHOW:  WRAL Team Rio Shares Olympic Adventures Back at CBC



SLIDESHOW: A Few Team Rio in Rio Pix from WRAL-TV’s Steve Hammel
WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steve Hammel and his wife, Renee, traveled to Rio to see the last few days of the Olympics firsthand.  He shared these great pix of WRAL-TV Team Rio.  He told the entire staff, “I am so very proud of the work Team Rio did both there and here.  From the get go we said this would be an opportunity for all viewers to see the type of quality work we do.”


Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Steve Hammel for the capcom photos from Rio.



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