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WRAL vice president and general manager announces his retirement

Steve Hammel, former WRAL general manager, will lead UNC-TV on an interim basis.
Steve Hammel, former WRAL general manager, will lead UNC-TV on an interim basis. Courtesy of WRAL

Steve Hammel, the vice president and general manager for WRAL and Fox 50, announced on Wednesday that he will retire later this year.

Hammel joined Capitol Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WRAL and Fox 50, in November 2008 from KPHO, the CBS affiliate in Phoenix. The Syracuse University grad has worked in broadcasting for more than 40 years.

Hammel made the announcement in a staff meeting at WRAL on Wednesday, and a news release was sent out later that day.

“It has been a terrific honor to work with the team at WRAL and FOX 50,” Hammel said in the release. "And I feel so very grateful to be part of what the Goodmon family has created in Capitol Broadcasting. It’s a special place full of incredibly passionate and dedicated people."

Jimmy F. Goodmon, Jr., president and chief operating officer of CBC, praised Hammel's work at the station.

“Steve has done an outstanding job in carrying the torch for WRAL-TV and FOX 50 and remaining true to the ongoing legacy of our company, mainly an unwavering commitment to people and community," Goodmon said. "His calm, steady leadership and people-centered approach made him one of the most beloved GMs in this station's history. Steve will always be a part of the family.”

WRAL touted Hammel's successes in its announcement. Hammel oversaw WRAL's affiliation switch from CBS to NBC in February 2016, and the expansion of the local news footprint of both WRAL and Fox 50, adding 4:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. newscasts. Broadcasting & Cable magazine named Hammel the large market General Manager of the Year in 2015.

Changes at WRAL

The past six months or so have been a time of change at WRAL, with some of the station's longtime anchors and reporters announcing retirements or leaving for non-journalism jobs.

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Anchors Bill Leslie and David Crabtree both plan to retire this year, Leslie in June and Crabtree toward the end of the year. Anchor Lynda Loveland left in December for a Farm Bureau job with more family-friendly hours, and longtime reporter Julia Sims took a communications job with the City of Raleigh.

In January, WRAL station manager Jim Rothschild also announced that he will retire in April.

In an interview in January, Hammel emphasized that the timing of the departures was coincidence.

“Some people think there is no such thing as coincidence,” Hammel said at the time. “But in this particular case I would get on the witness stand, put my hand on the Bible and say, ‘This just happened.’

Hammel will stay in NC

Hammel, who lives in Cary with his wife and two golden retrievers, plans to remain in North Carolina. His departure date has not been announced, and will depend on the search for his replacement.

"I look forward to enjoying other aspects of life," Hammel said. "Until the day I leave, it will continue to be a privilege serving our community and our viewers. After that, I will proudly take the role of being their number one viewer."

Brooke Cain: 919-829-4579, @warmtv, @brookecain