WFMY’s Larry Audas Signs Off

Larry Audas is a natural-born broadcaster. In fact, I suspect that a boom microphone and TV monitor were suspended above his baby crib.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, Larry grew up in the Chicago area, and later graduated from Bob Jones University with a B.A. in — you guessed it — “Radio & TV Production.” Afterward, Larry worked as an announcer at KQCV radio in Oklahoma City, and as a reporter for KFOR-TV there. Next stop was KPRC in Houston where he won a slew of awards as an anchor, and for his stellar news reporting. Later, in Columbia, South Carolina he won an EMMY for Most Outstanding Newscast, as well as an Edward R. Murrow award. As an anchor for KTHV in Little Rock, Arkansas, Larry won an EMMY for best newscast, and then was promoted to the front office as president and general manager of the station. He remained in that position until 2011 when he accepted a call to be president and GM of WFMY-TV in Greensboro.

During Larry’s tenure at WFMY the station has consistently been recognized for excellence in news programming. More importantly, Larry is responsible for WFMY winning the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters prestigious Community Involvement Award. One reason? His EMMY-winning “Read 2 Succeed” campaign which reached 100,000 urban elementary students with a compelling literacy message. Larry also launched WFMY+, a streaming channel designed to make news and entertainment programming more accessible to a wider audience.

I first met Larry when he appeared on “Triad Today” back in October of 2012, and we have stayed in touch regularly ever since. As an alumnus of WFMY, I share a common bond with Larry, but we also share a common belief that local television stations have an obligation to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

Larry recently announced that he is retiring from WFMY on April 30, so I thought this would be the perfect time to talk with him about his career.

Jim: Who or what led you to a career in broadcasting?

Larry: As a high schooler I was invited to serve as the announcer for our church’s weekly gospel TV program which was broadcast on a UHF station in Chicago. That fueled my interest in television and specifically newscasting.

Jim: Your booming voice made you a great announcer, but you really distinguished yourself as a news anchor and reporter. Yet for all that talent, you ended up as an executive. Did you always have your eye on broadcast management?

Larry: I never looked at management as a target, and as an anchorman I said, “I’d never be a news director.” But of course, when opportunity knocked, I became a news director. It is the most challenging role in any TV station, exceeding the pressure that seems obvious to those presenting on camera. I learned this first-hand. After that, I served as president and general manager for TV stations in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee. The lesson here is “never say never.”

Jim: How did your background as a broadcast journalist help you become an effective general manager?

Larry: In the past, most GM’s destined for leadership moved from sales into the corner office. It was uncommon for news anchors and journalists to ascend to station management. Having covered seemingly every kind of news story from hurricanes and earthquakes to jetliner crashes, national political conventions, and sports championships, I was afforded a close-up understanding of what we delivered to viewers and why broadcasting was relevant. That knowledge was foundational as I moved into GM leadership.

Jim: How has local TV news changed since you started out?

Larry: Broadcast TV is still a vital and sometimes singularly local source of what is going on in your backyard, across the street, and in your town. Big Tech — the social media and platform companies that aggregate news and pump it to your phone or device have captured much of the revenue market as they deliver digital content. That financial aspect of nationalized content delivery is pressing local broadcast news hard. Young people and many not-so-young folks look to their phones for news. We’re there too, but what you see on an app may or may not be local, verifiable, and vetted. It would be a tragedy for local TV to follow newspapers in terms of diminished opportunity. I think Big Tech’s pipe dream is for viewers to pay for any and all fresh content. Imagine a day when you will pay, for example, to watch March Madness, the Super Bowl, or other currently free programs. We may learn the hard way that big content is not better.

Jim: Every TV station used to have a public affairs department, and air a variety of local programs in addition to News. Deregulation and corporate ownership have changed all that. How then has WFMY been able to maintain a community connection in today’s broadcast environment?

Larry: WFMY News2 has a historic place in this community and is celebrating a 75th anniversary. Part of that history is an ongoing community orientation and connection. It is seen most often in our news coverage and also in our true commitment to advancing the greater good in Greensboro and the Triad. Food and blood drives, legal help, problem solving for regular folk, and more, are part of both news and community efforts. We take pride in being part of, but also supporters of the people who live here with us.

Jim: Circling back to your comments about delivery systems, an increasing number of consumers are “cutting the cable.” How has that affected WFMY’s traditional viewership?

Larry: It’s called viewer fragmentation. That’s a fancy way of saying that viewers have dozens if not hundreds of choices when it comes to platforms, programming, and technology.

Long gone are the days when newspaper, TV, and radio ruled the roost. We have adjusted and you’ll find WFMY online, digital, streaming, and every other place where programming is distributed.

Jim: Do you ever miss reporting and anchoring?

Larry: Yes, but not with regret. I believe God opens and closes doors, and having been both a journalist and in leadership roles is more than I deserve.

Jim: What will you be doing with your time now?

Larry: To make sure I stay out of my wife’s way I will launch TruFlex Media, a consulting business. I’ll be available to consult, mentor, and speak with those in our profession who I would hope to help. (

Jim: One last thing. This fall will be my 50th anniversary of getting a job at WFMY. Are you retiring now just to avoid giving me a gold watch?

Larry: This is exactly correct. The expense of a gold watch for a journalist of your stature and local fame was a chief contributor to my exit. I’m leaving that warranted, but pricey necessity to my successor.



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