Former WNCN reporter to head new PBS news show

Hari Sreenivasan, a former reporter for WNCN in Raleigh, will be the new host of “PBS NewsHour Weekend.”
Hari Sreenivasan, a former reporter for WNCN in Raleigh, will be the new host of “PBS NewsHour Weekend.”

Raleighites may remember a handsome 20-something Indian man on their TV screen reporting the local news 17 years ago. Hari Sreenivasan once anchored Raleigh’s NBC affiliate, WNCN-TV, his first paying job out of college.

Now a TV news veteran, Sreenivasan is a correspondent and director of digital partnerships for “PBS NewsHour” in New York. But that will soon change.

Sreenivasan will anchor the brand new “PBS NewsHour Weekend” program when it premieres in September.

With the new weekend programming, Sreenivasan anticipates spending half of the show discussing timely news and the other half on feature stories about science, technology, business, art and religion.

Before his days in front of the camera, Sreenivasan grew up in Mumbai, India, and Washington state. After college he moved across the country to be a reporter at WNCN.

“We had to stand in front of a desk,” he laughs as he recalls his first job. “I guess to make it look more urgent or something. We were called, ‘The New Generation of News.’ ”

After working roughly 14 hours a day, Sreenivasan said he would go to a Hindu temple by the Raleigh airport. It was there that people began to recognize him from TV, and a couple of families “adopted” him during that time.

“My time in Raleigh improved exponentially thanks to the Indian community,” he said. “I still keep in touch with some of them.”

Since his days of regional reporting in the City of Oaks, Sreenivasan held jobs at various national news programs like “CBS Evening News,” “The Early Show” and “CBS Sunday Morning” and “ABC News Now” as well as local stations in California.

But North Carolina holds a special place in his heart as his first and only living experience in the South.

After working all day at WNCN, Sreenivasan said he had little time to go out and make friends. In a community slightly less diversified than the North, he felt a little out of place. “It was a character-building experience, being in the South,” he said.

On the new “PBS NewsHour Weekend,” a 30-minute program with Sreenivasan as the sole anchor, he said he hopes to expand the audience by bringing in a more diverse collection of stories and sources. Using social media, especially Twitter, he intends to facilitate more audience engagement with the show and his guests.

“I want to put the ‘public’ back in public media,” he said. “I want to have smart audience members engage with a smart guest.”