By Bruce Rader
After a great 45-year run, I am stepping down as Sports Director of WAVY-TV and FOX43 at the end of February. This is the culmination of a two-year exit plan. Over the past year, I have spent a lot of time preparing for the transition with the very talented Craig Loper who will be taking over my daily duties, along with our incredible long-time sports staff, Brian Parsons my producer for over 20 years, and Nathan Epstein.
Although I am stepping down as Sports Director, I will continue to be a part of our news and online coverage with reports and commentary on breaking sports news, along with special projects on both our newscasts and on WAVY.com.
It is hard to believe I’ve had the opportunity to witness and sometimes be a part of the most incredible sporting events in the state and region for over almost a half-century. That includes three Olympics, all of the Washington Football Teams, Super Bowls, countless NASCAR and Daytona 500 races, World Series, and all the great games played by our local colleges.
I had the great opportunity to be able to watch NFL Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Kenny Easley play in high school, along with basketball stars Alonzo Mourning, Allen Iverson, and the countless high school athletes that started their sports careers as youngsters here in Hampton Roads and went on to win Super Bowls, star in the MLB and the NBA, and win Olympic gold.
Sitting ringside and sometimes serving as ring announcer for every one of Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker’s professional boxing bouts is something I will never forget.
Covering some events was more difficult than others. Watching and then having to stay up all night and report on the gut-wrenching death of Dale Earnhardt in the final moments of the 2001 Daytona 500, and being there and reporting on the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta in 1996 were tough. But being there to take in the magic of the night back on September 6, 1995, when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s Iron Man record is what makes covering sports great. The good always seems to surpass the bad.
Hosting the weekly basketball show with Old Dominion coach Paul Webb back in the ’80s and the Old Dominion Football Show and more recently the weekly syndicated “Washington Huddle” WFT football team show, hopefully, gave our local fans insight into their favorite teams that they may not have been able to get elsewhere. And of course, the decades of covering Hampton Roads high school football every Friday night for over 40-years was an honor.
I was also given the honor of hosting the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy for many years and helped raise over a million dollars with the Bruce Rader St. Jude Golf Tournament for 20 years. These experiences, along with so many other charity events, are even more precious than the games I covered.
With my 16-year-old twin sons now finishing up high school and looking ahead to college and my three-year-old son and daughter now looking ahead to their life, I am looking forward to making up some of the lost family time.
On Monday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m. on WAVY-TV 10 we will air a 30-minute special looking back on the last 45 years at WAVY and FOX43. It should be a fun watch. If you are not going to be home, you might want to set your DVR. We’ll also make it available to watch online after it airs.
When my wife Virginia gets tired of me hanging around, which will probably happen soon I suppose, I am looking forward to finding another way to contribute to our great Hampton Roads community and possibly getting back in the ever-changing and exciting media world.
But come Thursday February 24, I will sign off my last 6 o’clock newscast, humbled that the people of Hampton Roads put up with me for so long. I hope you will join me for that.