Fox 8 news anchor Kerry Charles heads to AtlantaBy Chanel Davis. Peacemaker Contributor / May 11, 2018
For the past seven years, Kerry Charles has been a staple in the Triad community. You can count on turning on WGHP FOX 8 every morning to see his bright smile and enjoy his humor. You see him at local events, parades and dinners around the Triad, even walking the halls at Aycock Middle School.
That will soon change.
Charles, who anchored the FOX 8 Morning News, will be moving his talents to FOX 5 WAGA in Atlanta. He’ll be a weekend evening anchor and report three days a week, while filling in on the anchor desk. His last day on air at WGHP will be May 16.
“This is a new opportunity for me that offers me a space to grow. I’m going to a great television station and I’m able to move forward with experiences that I gained here in the Triad,” he said. “You only leave a place to, hopefully, go on and grow and to make yourself better. I’ve had opportunities to leave before but I wouldn’t just leave just to take a job anywhere. This is what’s right and this is for me.”
No stranger to television, Charles began his journey as a reporter at the age of 10 in Columbus, Ohio. He began on a radio show on WCBE-FM called Kids Sundae as a host and reporter, and Kids News Network where he was a reporter and anchor through high school. After graduating from Linden-McKinley High School, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Cincinnati. From there he rose quickly through the ranks of broadcast television, going from a producer to a reporter to an anchor, at major stations in Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, and Shreveport, LA before landing at WGHP in High Point.“I think when I got here there was a lot of uncertainty. The station was expanding newscasts and adding folks. Then you have your staples on the morning show, whom people have adored for years, and you don’t want to see a shake up or anyone pushed out the door,” he said. “But I think when the dust settled people saw this was a new team and I think we came together well. This has been a great opportunity.”
The Emmy award winner has covered several national stories during his time at the station. He’s reported from both Democratic and Republican National Conventions during the 2016 presidential campaign and the inauguration that followed, the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., and the National D-Day Memorial in Virginia. Charles also covered the 2015 massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church and was there for the historic removal of South Carolina’s Confederate Flag from the grounds of the state capitol.
The 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was one of Charles’ most memorable stories while at the station.
“No other station in the area went up and that was the first time I pitched traveling for a story and they were very receptive to it. I’d shot all of these stories in advance and when we got there, on the last day, the assistant news director (who’s now the news director) called and he said, “I want you guys to find somebody from the Triad to focus a package on.”
An already exhausted Charles referred back to the fact that there was a plan in place when his photographer reminded him that all they could do was try.
“At that time, we had the big live truck that said WGHP Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point on the side. We stopped at the corner, getting ready to turn, when a guy walked up and said “Hey, you guys are from Winston-Salem. I’m from Winston-Salem. I was like “Oh my gosh!” We ended up interviewing him and his coworker, a White woman, and they both said had it not been for the March on Washington they would not be able to work together, walk the streets of D.C. and do some traveling together. It was a really touching.”
Natalie Wilson, afternoon anchor at WGHP FOX 8, said that she felt Charles warmth before she moved to the Triad.
“He made me feel welcomed before I was officially in the Triad. When I came to FOX 8 it was clear that he was somebody the community cared about and that he had his hand in the community.”
She said that the newsroom will have a different feel with Charles no longer there.
“People admire Kerry, not only for his on-air performance, but he’s the guy that you send to big stories. He’s the one that you know you can count on to deliver, for big stories or local stories. On a personal level, he’s a jokester in the newsroom. I think I’ll miss his spirit and energy, not just on the desk, but as a newsroom leader in general.”
Charles’ work doesn’t stop when he’s away from the newsroom. A man of action, he’s very active in the local community. He has volunteered for years at Swann Middle School (formerly Aycock Middle School) where he was instrumental in providing free lunch, grooming lessons, financial literacy workshops and free haircuts to local elementary and middle schools students. In March 2015, he was named Guilford County Schools’ Volunteer of the Month.
“I’ve been able to cover some of the biggest stories in history in the last seven years. I’ve been in places where little Black boys from Northeast Columbus don’t go. It’s powerful to be able to go into a community, give back and to inspire people,” he said. “I go into schools and little boys who know I’m coming to the school have shirts and ties on. The shirts may be big, and the ties may not be tied right but they do it because they say, ‘I watch you in the morning and I want to be like you.’ I’m like ‘whoa.’ That’s cool. I know what a Black male news anchor means to kids, especially little Black boys. I know what it means to see someone on TV every day in a suit and tie who’s relatively young and [kids] think they can be in that position. I know because I used to be that kid.”
He is an active member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. and Triad Association of Black Journalists, a local chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists. During his tenure as president of the group, TABJ was nominated for the 2014 Chapter of the Year award.
“What I hope to leave behind is that we all have the power to change our space and that’s what I’ve tried to do in my time here… I came here, I did the work I was supposed to do, I’d like to think that I will be leaving it better than I found it. So, all is well.”