WSOC-TV news anchor Faubion to retire in June

The Charlotte ObserverDecember 3, 2008 

CHARLOTTE -- Debi Faubion, who has been at the WSOC (Rock Hill cable Channel 4) anchor desk since 1990 and is Charlotte's longest-serving current TV anchor, said Tuesday she intends to retire when her contract expires in June.

Faubion, 58, said she reached the decision over the Thanksgiving holiday. She said she wants to spend more time with family, on civic projects and trying to improve her golf game.

"It's just kind of a good time to step down and let the others continue on," Faubion said. "It's my decision, just my decision. Everything is great. There's really no understory."

Joseph Pomilla, WSOC general manager, said he was surprised to learn of Faubion's decision. "Our plan was to continue on with her," he said. "She's been fantastic. A real professional."

Faubion, who stepped into the anchor chair from WCCO-TV in Minneapolis to succeed Meg MacDonald, joined Channel 9 only two months after it passed WBTV (Channel 3) as the ratings leader in newscasts, an advantage it has held ever since.

She was paired with veteran anchor Bill Walker, and they made the most successful team in recognition and ratings in the history of Charlotte television.

Chemistry between co-anchors is a mysterious formula, much studied and little understood. But Walker's Southern cadence and Faubion's Midwestern lilt had the "It" factor in combustible proportions.

For her audition, she and Walker sat at the station's news desk and did a simulated newscast.

"We went through it once," she recalled, "and the news director came out and said, 'Have you two worked together before?'"

There weren't any more auditions. "I walked in the news director's office and said, 'I think you can stop looking,'" said Walker, who retired three years ago.

He and Faubion were nightly partners for 15 years, and he said he couldn't blame her for wanting to finally move on. "There comes a time, by gosh, if you're going to do anything in this life, you need to get up and do it."

Pomilla, the general manager, said he doesn't know who will succeed Faubion, who anchors the station's 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts with Vince Coakley.

WSOC-TV is a news partner of The Herald.

Faubion's departure will be the last among the station's longtime, front-line personalities. Since Walker's retirement in 2005, sports anchor Harold Johnson and 10 p.m. anchor Kim Brattain have left.

Faubion grew up in Norman, Okla., and got a degree from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., in broadcasting and film. Before coming to Charlotte, she worked as reporter and anchor at stations in Mobile, Ala., Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Minneapolis.

But like most in the industry, she started at the bottom -- in Quincy, Ill., where she created programs for a cable company. One was a show where kids would call in and talk to puppets. Not only did Faubion make the puppets, she voiced four or five of the characters.

She told thousands of stories over the years, but remembers the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks as the biggest news event of her career.

"People expect you to keep it together and give them the news, and I did," Faubion said. "But when I got out in the parking lot that night, I just cried."

Debi Faubion

• Married to pediatric surgeon Bob Attorri and has two stepchildren

• Joined WSOC in April 1990

• Won four Emmy Awards for local broadcasting

• Civically active and will serve next year as president of the Mecklenburg Medical Alliance and Endowment.

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