“We Belong Together” WRAL – The Place to Be!

Throwback Thursday: CBC History

In spring 1987, WRAL-TV pulled out all the stops with a Hollywoodesque film production for the image promo called “We Mean a Lot to Each Other.” The two minute – long promo starred the duo Roberta Flack, best known for her Grammy Award winning hit record “Killing Me Softly with His Song”, and Lee Greenwood, best known for his smash hit “God Bless the USA.” By the way, Robert Flack was born in Black Mountain near Asheville, North Carolina. Overseeing the entire production was WRAL-TV Promotion Manager Sharon Malmstone.

Roberta Flack & Lee Greenwood

Robert Flack & Lee Greenwood in the recording studio

First came the music. The WRAL-TV song, “We Mean a Lot to Each Other,” was written and arranged by VTS Music in Asheville. The song was recorded at Monterey Studios in Los Angeles, California. It was the first time Flack and Greenwood had sung together. WRAL-TV Promotion Manager Sharon Malmstone coordinated all recording sessions and said, “This song is really dedicated to North Carolina. It’s a celebration of where we live, our people and what we all mean to each other. We wanted to try and show how proud WRAL-TV is to be a part of this special community. Lee Greenwood and Roberta Flack have created a song and a sound that is beautiful and unique. We are delighted with the result and think the community will be very excited when they hear the music.”

The film sequence was directed by Bob Garner, not to be confused with the barbecue expert on UNC-TV! Garner was also a North Carolinian, having grown up in Asheville. He worked extensively with Walt Disney studios as a writer, producer, and director. Prior to Disney, he worked at CBS with such stars as Carol Burnett, Glen Campbell, and Red Skelton.

Video production started on May 10, 1987 and continued for eight days. The professional film crew crisscrossed the state from Beaufort to Brightleaf Square in Durham. SKY 5 pilot, Frank Beall, flew Greenwood to Atlantic Beach for an oceanfront segment. WRAL news personnel were featured in the promo as well: Adele Arakawa, Charlie Gaddy, John Hudson, Bob Debardelaben, Ray Wilkinson, Bill Leslie, Tom Suiter, Susan Dahlin, Rick Williams, Susan Bookman, plus ACC basketball coaches Dean Smith, Jim Valvano, and Mike Krzyzewski.

Roberta Flack & Lee Greenwood

Roberta Flack & Lee Greenwood in the 1987 WRAL-TV news promo “We Belong Together”.

After all the scenes had been filmed, processed, and transferred to tape, the final editing was completed at WRAL-TV. Senior Editor Steve Childress and Chief Photographer Jay Jennings were tasked to marry the music to the video, hopefully resulting in a “WOW” moment for viewers. They succeeded!

The promo premiered during the evening program “PM Magazine” on Monday, August 24. It continued to frequently air during September.

Take a look at the timeless promo from 1987. We Mean a Lot to Each Other!

Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story & these photos. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.

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