A veritable who’s who of WRAL staffers past and present came together to support legendary sports anchor Tom Suiter at his induction into the NC Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, April 22, 2022. The event took place at the Raleigh Convention Center. The retired Suiter sat on the dais with his wife, Julie, while multiple tables of his colleagues celebrated with them.
“It was an honor to attend the NC Sports Hall of Fame banquet and cheer for Tom Suiter,” said WRAL-TV Director of New Operations, Sports & Special Projects Leesa Moore. “I felt like I was among sports royalty! So proud to be part of Capitol Broadcasting, who was the presenting sponsor, and to be part of about 1000 years of experience from the Big 5 in attendance.”
Several others in attendance shared their thoughts on the evening and their beloved colleague:
Former WRAL-TV Reporter Julia Sims:
If you’re lucky, you’ll meet people who leave an indelible mark on your life… and your heart. Tom Suiter is one of those people. He was inducted into the NC Sports Hall of Fame tonight. His reach has always gone beyond sports though. He consistently cheered on and mentored the underdog. I was lucky enough to be taken under his wing. He was always my biggest supporter and cheerleader, guiding me and encouraging me every step of the way. I was so honored to be able to cheer him on tonight. They just don’t make them anymore like Tom Suiter.
WRAL-TV News Producer Kelly Riner
Friday night was a wonderful celebration for Tom. His career and his wonderful and caring personality were on full display.
Legends like Charlie Gaddy were there. And, also there were younger people Tom has mentored and coached more recently…. Truly it was a range of people, those who met Tom at the start of his career… to those he met just before his retirement. It was a wonderful testament to his commitment to making everyone feel special, appreciated and loved over the years.
I had the honor of writing the two biographies submitted to the hall of fame. It was my pleasure to write about my forever friend and mentor. Over the course of writing the bios, Tom and I talked for hours about his favorite memories, his favorite people, and his best advice.
What stood out to me was none of his best memories were the biggest moments. And, we all know he had some HUGE moments and experiences over his 4-decades career. Instead, what he loved most was compromised of collection of small things, small victories and every day life in the office.
At work, people sometimes say, “I’m not here to make friends.” Tom and I talked about the sadness of that statement. He said, “I loved every tournament, every Football Friday, every Extra Effort Award, but Kells Bells, (the monicker he gave me in 2002!) I loved those moments because I experienced them with my friends. We all brought out the best in each other.” And, I firmly believe that should be a goal for all of us.
Retired WRAL-TV Director/Producer Pam Allen:
I loved working with Tom when I was a director at WRAL ’81-’87. He always gave me his scripts way before I headed to the control room. This allowed both of us to be totally prepared which yielded a smooth broadcast. It relaxed Tom so he could add-lib “jamburger” “boom – outta here” etc. His desire to “get things right” permeated the production staff. We wanted to get things right for Tom and the viewer. WRAL viewers deserved the best and we gave it to them. Tom loaded his sportscasts with a bazillion tapes. “Standby to roll ENG 1, roll 1, take1…standby to roll ENG 2, roll 2, wipe to 2, etc…” IT WAS FUN! At the end of the broadcast, Tom would give everyone a “High 5”.
My husband, Mike – SKY5 pilot, said Tom was a good passenger in the helicopter. Quite often they would fly SKY5 to deliver the “Tom Suiter Extra Effort Award” and there was Friday Night Football that featured “SKY5 Game of the Week.”
We remain good friends with Tom and are resuming our early dinners together now that Covid is on the wane.
WRAL-TV Specialty Reporter Scott Mason, the Tar Heel Traveler, put together a special piece about Suiter in honor of the occasion:
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Leesa Moore, Kelly Riner, Tony Gupton & former WRAL staffers Julia Sims & Pam Allen for these Capcom photos.