WRAL names new anchor to take over for departing David Crabtree

·4 min read

WRAL has named the new anchor to replace David Crabtree on the station’s flagship newscast.

Gerald Owens, a member of the WRAL News team for 20 years, will join longtime anchor Debra Morgan for the 6 p.m. timeslot after Crabtree departs at the end of May.

Crabtree is leaving to act as interim chief executive officer at PBS North Carolina, the public television station known until just over a year ago as UNC-TV. The station is run by the University of North Carolina system.

Crabtree’s final newscast at WRAL will be on May 25. Owens will take his anchor chair on May 31.

Owens started his news career as an intern at ABC News “Nightline” during Operation Desert Shield in 1990. He came to WRAL in 2022 after working as political reporter/anchor at WTKR in Norfolk, Va. and as a morning anchor at WUSA in Washington, D.C.

Owens, a basketball player in college, also briefly worked as a sports reporter, but returned to news after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

According to his WRAL bio, Owens was born in Italy, his father a captain in the US Army.

WRAL anchor Gerald Owens.
WRAL anchor Gerald Owens.

Owens joins the ranks of other long-timers on WRAL’s main anchor desk: Crabtree, who took over as lead anchor at WRAL when Charlie Gaddy retired in July 1994, leaves this month after nearly 28 years; Gaddy had been at WRAL for 24 years when he retired; and Owens’ co-anchor, Morgan, has been at the station for almost 30 years.

In a news release from WRAL, Owens said: “I look forward to carrying on the tradition set forth by the two men who preceded me: providing fair, accurate and balanced coverage of the news and events that affect our community and doing it with compassion.”

Owens and Morgan have worked together as co-anchors for many years.

They currently co-anchor the 5 p.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on WRAL. Owens also co-anchors the 10 p.m. Fox 50 newscast with Lena Tillett. (Both WRAL and Fox 50 are owned by Capitol Broadcasting Company.) Owens will continue to co-anchor those newscasts.

Morgan said, via WRAL: “For almost 20 years now I have known Gerald Owens as a fantastic journalist, compassionate community advocate, and, more recently, part-time farmer! I’m proud to call Gerald a friend. Our personal connection, along with our shared commitment to serving our neighbors, has made us a great team on the 5 and 11 o’clock news for all these years. I’m so happy to expand our partnership as Gerald joins me on the 6 o’clock news.”

WRAL anchors Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens.
WRAL anchors Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens.

Crabtree added: “Gerald Owens has earned this opportunity. His connection with the Triangle is sincere and authentic. He and Debra will continue to be the ones we can all rely on. I now echo what Charlie Gaddy said to me 28 years ago, ‘I am confident we are in good hands.’”

New WRAL anchor lineup

Owens’ move means the anchor teams at WRAL will shift once again.

Here’s the new lineup, starting May 31:

  • Weekday mornings on WRAL from 4:30a-7a: Renee Chou and Jeff Hogan, with Mikaya Thurmond in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays at noon: Renee Chou and Jeff Hogan, with Mikaya Thurmond in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays 4 p.m.: Lena Tillett and Dan Haggerty, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays at 4:30 p.m.: Lena Tillett and Chris Lovingood, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays 5 p.m.: Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays at 5:30 pm.: Lena Tillett and Dan Haggerty, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays at 6 p.m.: Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays 7 p.m.: Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens, with “In-Depth” Reports with Dan Haggerty and Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays 10 pm.: Gerald Owens and Lena Tillett, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays at 10:30 p.m.: Chris Lovingood and Lena Tillett, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

  • Weekdays 11 p.m.: Debra Morgan and Gerald Owens, with Mark Boyle in the Live Center.

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