After 33 years at WRAL, anchor Bill Leslie says he will retire from the station in June 2018.
Leslie, 67, anchors the morning and noon newscasts for WRAL, where he started in 1984 as a managing editor.
Leslie has more than 75 major awards during his career, including two Peabody Awards and five Emmys. He was WRAL’s environmental reporter from 1989-1993, reporting on the U.S. Navy dumping garbage off the N.C. coast and the pfisteria outbreak that killed millions of fish in N.C. rivers. Leslie was also the Tar Heel Traveler.
“Bill is a consummate professional,” WRAL vice president and general manager Steve Hammel said in an email to The News & Observer. “I – like a ton of our viewers – enjoy waking up to hear Bill’s great voice and engaging personality as he delivers our morning news. Similar to David Crabtree, Bill has talked with us for a number of years regarding his retirement. We are fortunate to have Bill and David here for some many years. They certainly have earned the right to start a new chapter in their lives where they don’t have to be looking at the clock every minute of every day. It is also good of them to give us so much advance notice allowing us to plan for a smooth transition.”
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Longtime WRAL evening anchor David Crabtree announced his retirement last month, a few weeks after morning anchor Lynda Loveland announced that she is leaving the station. Crabtree will retire toward the end of 2018 and Loveland will leave Dec. 1.
Leslie, a Morganton native, worked his way through college at UNC-Chapel Hill with a job as a radio news reporter.
While he is most well known as a WRAL anchor, he’s also very well known as an accomplished musician. He is the composer, producer, arranger and performer on eight Celtic fusion CDs, which have topped the New Age music charts.
Some interesting trivia: Leslie was best friends with radio deejay Rick Dees in college and was roommates with John Tesh after college at Meredith Village apartments in Raleigh.
In a Q&A on the WRAL website in 2009, Leslie said that as a morning anchor, his alarm clock goes off at 2:35 a.m.
In his WRAL announcement, Leslie said he has many things he’d like to do when he retires. “I’d like to elevate my skills as a photographer. I’d like to learn how to play the hammered dulcimer. I want to write a second book. I’d love to compose a soundtrack for a movie. I’d like to do some more serious hiking like I did in New Zealand in 2009. I may also take a yoga class. Plus, I want to find new ways to help others through public service.”