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He may have just arrived in town nine months ago, but already he’s part of the WRAL family and the extended Triangle community.

 photo of jeff hogan courtesy of wral

photo of jeff hogan courtesy of wral

By Kurt Dusterberg
Photos Courtesy of WRAL

In this Newcomers Issue, we wanted to share the perspective of someone who recently moved to our area. Jeff Hogan, morning news anchor at WRAL, fits that bill. Shortly after our initial interview was completed, Jeff was involved in an accident at Wrightsville Beach. His daughters helped rescue him from the water, and he was hospitalized until August 2nd and then spent time recovering at home. He returned to work on August 20th and is scheduled to have surgery to stabilize his neck and spine in September. We join thousands of others throughout the Triangle in sending positive thoughts and prayers his way.

“I’m in good spirits, but it’s going to be a long road ahead,” he told Midtown magazine on August 9th. “I’m making great strides and I’m confident I will make a full recovery.”

Here’s our interview from late July:

Jeff Hogan was at a crossroads.

After 20 years anchoring sports and newscasts at WBNS–TV in Columbus, Ohio, he was spread thin and missing out on too much family life. So when WRAL came calling in January, Hogan jumped at the chance to anchor the WRAL Morning News with Renee Chou.

So far, life in the Triangle suits him to a tee, and not just because he is an avid golfer. He is making time for family and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle.

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Midtown magazine: It’s never easy to uproot your family. Why was this the right move?

Hogan: My kids were growing up without me, and I didn’t want that to happen. It was weekends, nights, travel with the [Ohio State] Buckeyes and covering the teams. That 3pm-to-midnight schedule and weekends caught up with me when they were 5 and 6 years old and I was missing some of their events, and I thought, I can’t do this any longer.
You had been a sportscaster for two decades, but you made the move to news anchor about 10 years ago.

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How was that transition?

I had enough news directors tell me I needed to make the move. There was never going to be a good time to do it because I was such a sports junkie, but the family aspect of it made it an easy decision and I never looked back.
    You make yourself more marketable, and you make yourself more valuable to your station. Honestly, it’s more interesting. There’s a lot more going on in the world than just sports. It’s been the smartest thing I’ve done. It’s allowed me to come here. Everybody now wants somebody who can think on their feet, react naturally, and be real—ad-lib, talk without a teleprompter. Those are things you do in sports all the time.

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What made the WRAL job the right one to take?

There were certain opportunities in my tenure (in Columbus) that I turned down. I took the safe route to protect my family long-term. But this was a wonderful company, and it was the station where I wanted to be. They don’t make ‘em like they do at WRAL anymore in television. That was a huge draw, and the location. That, and my kids were willing to take a new adventure. I was at a point professionally where I had things I still wanted to accomplish, and it became clear that I wasn’t going to accomplish them in Columbus.

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Was there anything in particular about the Triangle, beyond WRAL, that was appealing to you?

This area and all that it brings was an attraction for me. I’m an outdoors guy. My whole family is outdoorsy. I love the mountains; my kids love the beach. We’re situated perfectly in the middle of that. You get these Carolina blue skies and you just fall in love with it.

I’ve had this in the back of my mind for 20-plus years. When I worked in Richmond, Virginia, everybody knew about WRAL. I want it to be the last line on my resume.

Their commitment to community is something that appealed to me greatly. I want to be involved in my community as a member, not just somebody who the people in the community see on TV.

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I understand you played football at the University of Rhode Island. Did you have a successful career?

I was a defensive back. I had a scholarship. I ended up starting six games into my freshman year because the guy in front of me got in a car accident. I wasn’t redshirted until I blew out my knee in my senior year.
It was the third game, so I came back and played another full season.

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Did you have aspirations of making it to the NFL?

I did until I got to about the second practice of my freshman year when I realized that, I may have been one of the best guys on my team in high school, but I wasn’t close to being one of the best guys on my college team. I had to fight for my job in spring football every year. I knew that any slip-up was going to be the difference in not being able to play. I think that’s carried through professionally for me as well—you learn that lesson early. You look at the real world, and it’s so competitive in every industry.

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And now, you’ve found another competitive outlet. You do triathlons and marathons.

The aspect of cross-training appealed to me, and I got tired of running. I did my first triathlon in 2005. I did five that summer. I’ve done over 30, including Ironman distance. I’ve done almost 30 marathons as well, including Boston. By and large, I’m a minimalist trainer because of my schedule and everything else going on in life. I do enough to get by. I’m not winning these races by any means.

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I understand your daughters, Skyler and Kate, are in high school now. You’re no longer working nights and weekends. I’m guessing that makes family life a little easier for you and your wife.

To make that move professionally so that I can free up time to see them, I will work all night while they’re sleeping so that I can be with them during the day. It’s the most rewarding thing I ever did. It’s time you can never get back, and I never wanted to regret not having that time with them. It may be a little more than they ever wanted, but I’m okay with that too!
It’s a very early morning schedule, so is that a good fit for you?

There’s no normal schedule in TV. It’s the closest thing that really suits me. I’m an upbeat, positive person, and I think in the morning you need to be that. That’s the message I try to deliver and what I’m most happy doing, so it’s the perfect schedule for me, mixing professional life, television, and my family life. I left for work the other day, and my daughter hadn’t gone to bed yet. She said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m going to work!” I routinely get away with five or five and a half hours of sleep, which is not super healthy.

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Do you look forward to these years, watching your kids going through high school?

I’ve seen them on the athletic fields, trying every sport to see what is going to be their fit. I’ve seen them score a soccer goal at the age of 7 in a pee-wee game, and I’ve thought it was the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life! Really, it brought tears to my eyes. It was awesome. I still get emotional seeing them do great things—and just doing their best. I have a cheerleader and a cross-country runner, and they both play lacrosse in the spring. Kids are the joy you never knew you were missing from your life until you have them.

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Have a suggestion for next issue’s Candid Conversation?
Send it to us: info@midtownmag.com.