CBC completed the trifecta of tower lightings for the holidays, as well as a half-hour special on WRAL-TV to broadcast the triple-event, on Wednesday, November 29, 2023. The WRAL-TV tower turned into a Christmas tree for the 65th time that night, and WRAL-TV Director of News Operations, Sports & Special Projects Leesa Moore has been there for 41 of those years. The 2023 lighting was her 25th as Executive Producer for the live broadcast.
“Our tower lighting coverage has been through several iterations … from covering only in newscasts, to producing a stand-alone special,” Moore told CapCom. “The constant has been to entertain. The technology has certainly changed throughout, and I think it has served us well to make the event truly sparkle.”
The WRAL-TV tower began the tradition with CBC Founder A.J. Fletcher at the helm of the company, and in recent years has expanded.
“I love that we’re including our sister properties at American Tobacco Campus and Rocky Mount Mills,” said Moore. “It’s an exciting way to showcase the reach of Capitol Broadcasting and reinforce our commitment to the various regions we serve.”
WRAL-TV Anchor Lena Tillett went to Durham to host the lighting of the Lucky Strike tower at American Tobacco, while WRAL-TV Anchor Ashley Rowe experienced her first CBC tower lighting as emcee of the portion of the broadcast from Rocky Mount Mills.
Over the years the tower lighting has become a favorite of the CBC Team. Coverage has expanded and the number of towers has grown, but one thing stays the same.
“The main constant is our people,” said Moore. “The staff of WRAL do amazing things throughout the year, but I think lighting the tower holds a special place in everyone’s heart. With all the news we cover, this is one event where we really get to have fun!”
WRAL-TV Senior News Producer Kelly Riner is also a mainstay of the Tower Lighting Special.
“Months of preparation came down to the fastest 27 minutes of TV all year!” she posted. “Once again, I had the honor of producing WRAL’s Tower Lighting Special. It certainly was a fun one thanks to my amazing coworkers and a lot of hard work!”
The annual tradition of lighting the WRAL Tower, and now also the towers at American Tobacco and Rocky Mount Mills, is a key part of signaling the start of the holidays in the Triangle.
“I love everything about the tradition of the tower lighting,” said Moore. “It is truly CBC’s gift to the community. I have friends who attended NC State years ago who still remark about how special it was to see the tower all lit up. It’s also a tradition that has stood the test of time … I mean, 65 years! It’s been my absolute honor and privilege to be part of such a memorable annual event and I have so many memories to carry with me.”
“It is always my favorite night of the year,” she told CapCom. “First Night is a close second! And now that countdown begins.”
Watch the WRAL Tower Lighting Special:
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Leesa Moore, Kelly Riner, Kat Campbell, Mike Maze, Lena Tillett and Ashley Talley for these CapCom photos.