The last medals presented, camera bags packed, and flights home complete, the WRAL-TV team from the Winter Olympics returned to the station, full of new experiences. WRAL-TV News Photographers Richard Adkins and Jamie Munden and WRAL-TV Anchors Kathryn Brown and David Crabtree, spent three weeks in South Korea covering the 2018 Games. On Tuesday, March 6, 2018, WRAL-TV staffers gathered in Studio A to hear about their Olympic adventures.
WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steve Hammel opened the meeting with praise for the entire WRAL team.
“There was a ton of work that went into the Olympics,” he said. “Thanks to everyone here for all the really hard work that went into the preparation and execution.”
He also referred specifically to the Augmented Reality set created for The Olympic Zone.
“I never thought green could look so good,” he said. “It was phenomenal. Everything that went into that set and promotions and news coverage…everything clicked.”
Hammel then acknowledged the WRAL crew on the ground in South Korea.
“David, Richard, Jamie and Kathryn worked together as a terrific team,” he said. “I don’t know when you slept!”
WRAL-TV Anchor Debra Morgan moderated the panel with the four WRAL “Olympians,” asking questions about their experiences. They covered topics such as the language barrier, their accommodations, food, meeting athletes and their favorite memories.
“With the language, we just made it work,” said Brown. “The South Koreans were so friendly and patient.”
Adkins demonstrated a translator app he used while in South Korea. He opened the app, held it over Korean print and the English equivalent appeared on the screen.
He shared how a restaurant advertising seafood meant octopus.
“But it was good,” he said. “I had great food adventures while I was there.”
Both Crabtree and Adkins cited their trip to the DMZ as their favorite memory of the trip.
“It was quite an experience,” said Crabtree.
Adkins compared the experience to seeing the cliffs of Normandy when he and former WRAL-TV Anchor Charlie Gaddy went to cover a story about D-Day.
“There’s a feeling you get in your bones, I can’t describe,” said Adkins.
All remarked about the kindness of the South Korean people and their hospitality.
“We were welcomed everywhere we went,” said Crabtree.
Morgan asked Brown about having small children she missed while 7,000 miles away. Brown’s twin daughters marked their third birthday while she was away, and she had set up a system to write to her six-year-old son, Max, every day.
“What was really nice was everyone we met was in the same boat,” answered Brown. “You felt so much support and that made it okay.”
She also mentioned the flip side of the coin saying, “It was a luxury for me just to be able to focus on my work. But coming home was awesome.”
Munden spoke of the kindship they found in their fellow journalists at the Winter Olympics.
“Kathryn and I would eat breakfast after The Olympic Zone,” explained Munden. “We met Ralph and Colby, the guys who were the one doing hockey with Westwood One Radio. We started calling ourselves ‘The Breakfast Club’ because we kept running into each other.”
The team spoke of the bitter cold.
“The first week there was brutal,” said Adkins of the weather.
The WRAl-TV crew all talked about the excitement of covering stories about the various topics they discovered. They said most other local crews only covered the sporting events and sports angles.
“At first they looked down on us for doing features,” said Crabtree. “But later they were looking over our shoulders, interested in what we were doing.”
“We were proud to tell people we worked for WRAL,” said Brown. “Unlike a lot of other stations, we had the luxury to tell stories and there were so many good stories there.”
All four of the WRAL team glowed with appreciation for having been given the opportunity to cover the Winter Olympics in South Korea.
“It was just remarkable to be there,” said Crabtree.