Kay Currie & Dennis Rogers – RIP …WHO?

KayCurrie Dennis Rogers2
BobLee
August29/ 2020

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August 26, 2020

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NOTE:  A week+ intending to write an insightful BLSays column … as CHAOS reigns across Battleground America 2020.  I foolishly ponder:

“… maybe I can compose something so incredibly clever that neighbors will beat their swords back into plowshares.  Butterflies and balloons will replace all the rioting and obscene ranting.?   Thomas Paine will roll over in his grave and channel me an “Atta Boy BobLee”. 

I HAVE been coming up with some very clever stuff … that I post on Facebook.  You have no doubt noticed the calming influence my insights are having all across social media. Right? … sigh.

Extended time away from you folks makes me feel guilty.  Save Whats Worth Saving of Western Civilization … OR … Give You a brief respite from the afore-mentioned Battleground America 2020.  Being an Internet Legend ain’t as easy as folks think it is. – BL

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Kay Currie & Dennis Rogers – RIP… WHO?

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I had never hard of Kay Currie until she died – at 88 – several months ago.  I lived far from “around here” back in the 70-80s.

NOTE: I apologize for the poor quality picture of Kay Currie.  Small market TV stations don’t keep digital files on employees from 30+ years ago.

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I read Dennis Rogers’ columns for many years back when I subscribed to the financially imperiled News&Observer.  Dennis Rogers died several weeks ago at 77.

Although I never saw Kay Currie on WITN-TV in “Little Washington” or in her earlier stint with a New Bern station … I have seen “her” under other names in “small market stations” all across America in less turbulent times.

Likewise with Dennis Rogers.  There was a time that EVERY newspaper in America “had a Dennis Rogers” writing his/her observations about Life while living it.  Often it was humorous … often it was poignant … often it “made you think” … it hardly ever “pissed you off”.   Dennis Rogers was “a small market Lewis Grizzard or Dave Barry”.

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For fifteen years from 1970 – 1985,  Kay Currie hosted “feel good” community programs for WITN-TV with names like “Hospitality House” and “Down East Today”. Kay Currie WITN

She was, from all accounts, “60s TV Mom pretty”.  “Easy on the eye” for both male and female viewers … certainly not a “brazen hussy” flashing a bit of thigh or cleavage with a come-hither glint in her eye.

Heck, she may have been “a brazen hussy” off-camera – a “demanding diva” to other WITN employees but I seriously doubt it.

Wonder how many local Christmas parades Kay Currie rode in within 50 miles of “Little Washington”?  Either sitting in a convertible or on a wagon pulled by a John Deere tractor.  Giving the “royal wave” to adoring fans lining Main Streets in Edenton … Chocowinity … Grimesland … Belhaven … etc.  I bet it was more than 50.

How many area civic clubs she spoke to about “the TV business” ?   How many Hurricanes did Kay Currie cover over the years?

Her shows were “community-interest” oriented.  Interviewing area citizens who did something or were planning to do something of possible significance to residents of Eastern North Carolina.  Stuff that would seem “Mayberry-ish” to “big city folks” because IT WAS MAYBERRY-ish.   Proudly so.

Most “anchors” in small markets rent and don’t buy when they are hired.  WITNs are stepping stones to “the big-time”.  They use those 2-3 years in a “small market” as a resume-builder.   Constantly sending out tapes to stations in Raleigh – Charlotte – Atlanta and BEYOND.

At one point 6-7 years ago Fox News had four on-air “blond info babes” who had worked in “small markets” in North Carolina.

Why did Kay Currie stay in “Little Washington” for fifteen years?  Maybe she had family ties in the area.  Maybe she simply enjoyed…

“Excuse me but aren’t you Kay Currie” …  “Yes, I am.” …. “My family and I love you on Channel 7.  We watch you every night …..”.  “Thank you.”

I have no clue what $$$ a WITN-TV anchor made in the early 80s.  Maybe $50,000 ??  Enough to have a nice life in a nice community … and to “be liked” by her fellow citizens.  There IS a value to such things.

When Kay Currie passed away at a local nursing home in May 2020 at 88 … 32 years after her last on-air appearance on WITN-TV … the current anchors did an on-air special “Remembering Kay Currie”.  There IS a value to such a thing.

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NOTE:  Back when I played golf… one of my regular golfing buddies was an executive with a local Media Conglomerate.  “Ben” started his media career many years before at WITN-TV in “Little Washington”.  One of his jobs was hosting their late Saturday night “Horror Movies”.  He dressed up as a ghoulish character named “Robin Graves”.

When he talked about “those days” he was much more animated than when he talked about being “an executive with a Media Conglomerate”.

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Dennis Rogers was a columnist for the financially destitute N&O for over 30 years.  He “retired” in 2008.  “Retired” is a well-worn euphemism around The N&O.

I have no doubt that Dennis Rogers was “a yellow dog Democrat”.  But unless you simply knew that, Dennis Rogers never felt it was necessary to “wield it like a bludgeon” insulting 50% of his loyal readers.

For the last few decades or so of his career at The N&O…

Dennis Rogers may have been the ONLY reporter / columnist / editor / publisher / ad salesperson / secretary / janitor / et al employed by either The Daniels’ Family or The McClatchy Corp who did NOT wear their partisan Liberal Democrat politics on their sleeve … and rub it in every subscriber’s face … every day.

Maybe that’s why Everybody LIKED DENNIS ROGERS!  Ya reckon…

WAIT… add the late Caulton Tudor on that short list with Dennis.  Caulton pissed off overly-caffeinated sports fans on occasion… but not with his political opinions.

Like so many “Dennis Rogers” across America in less troubling times … he was the recipient of the High Praise phrase – His column is the first thing I turn to when I open the newspaper.  It doesn’t get any more laudatory than that.

Rogers was raised by his grandmother in Wilson NC in a “low income circumstance”.  He never forgot his humble beginnings.  He lived for many years in Harnett County where “Duelin’ Banjos” is the official county song.

The many loyal followers of Dennis Rogers’ columns knew he loved Eastern NC Barbecue i.e. “the Holy Grub” … Motorcycles … and “Veterans”.  I doubt he typed more than two consecutive columns without mentioning one or more of those subjects.

The Ultimate Dennis Rogers column would involve a Viet Nam vet … on a Harley … eating barbecue … carrying a rutabaga shaped like Ava Gardner. Dennis Rogers

I never met Dennis Rogers.  I saw him once in – where else – a local barbecue joint. I am pretty sure he was a very very intelligent fella.

He also was “straight from Central Casting” for a Down East fellow writing about “people, places and goings-on in semi-rural North Carolina”.

If there was a Dennis Rogers movie … Only Dennis Rogers could play “Dennis Rogers”.  That he was an accomplished actor in local community theater would confirm that.

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It’s 2020.  Pretty much Everybody HATES THE MEDIA.  We may HATE different media depending upon which end of the partisan political teeter-totter we sit on … but the phrase “I’m with (name a newspaper or TV network)” is not a line one utters loudly in a crowded public space.

“Playing piano in a whorehouse” or  “working for the IRS” would be a less volatile introductory line.

Kay Currie and Dennis Rogers were of a different time and place in America.  Maybe “being well liked by pretty much everyone” is not the primary objective we all strive for.

But it’s not a bad tombstone epitaph.  Is it?

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thailand
thailand
2 months ago

Oh, how the years wound their way through the development of young minds and bodies, once weaving an afternoon get-together with Cactus Jim and Kinston kindergarten friend, Jimmy Rochelle, and I—sitting on a bale of hay in a Greenville TV studio sipping Sun Crest orange soda, my proud mom smiling at her two little cowboys in white Stetsons in a make-believe western horse barn with big Jim in his polished black western boots. . Goodness, what great memories you evoke. What would happen to that little boy and his friend who daily made their way along Holman and Highland packing… Read more »

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

That photo of Dennis Rogers brings back some great nostalgia for me, growing up in Cary in the 80’s/Early 90’s, his black and white picture was on the right hand side of the N&O my dad read every morning, I can smell my Dad’s morning coffee and his breakfast bar as if it was yesterday 😉
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One other media great from the Triangle, every football loving person who grew up in there in the 80’s/Early 90’s fondly recalls Football Friday with Tom Suiter!

Leroy Rogers
Leroy Rogers
2 months ago

I went around with Dennis Rogers a few times in the comment sections of the N&O (before the pay wall). He’s was a liberal alright, but an old-school lib, not mindless or insulting.
I liked him.

DHintz
DHintz
2 months ago

Oh the times they are a changing, BL.
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And, to think, I wanted to be a journalist. But gravitated to advertising/marketing/business. Not sure how that worked out, but…. “Journalism” these days is kin to cleaning out the toilet. Pick a side…
DH

Hugh McDonald
Hugh McDonald
2 months ago

I was a big fan of Dennis Rogers. Not so much for other News and Observer writers. Just Dennis and Carlton Tudor. Both wrote very interesting human interest columns.

iratepyrate
iratepyrate
2 months ago

As soon as I saw Kay Currie’s photo pop up on your site, a flood of memories washed over me. I grew up in Washington in the 70’s. WITN and WNCT in nearby Greenville were the stations to watch. WCTI in New Bern took a little more effort, but back then we had nothing but rabbit ears attached to our huge RCA 27-inch floor console TV. . I fondly remember Kay and “Hospitality House”. I didn’t get to watch it that often except for summers and sick days, but you always knew it was on. As your photo shows, she… Read more »

Chip
Chip
2 months ago

What I wouldn’t give for a sports “journalist” to piss me off for his opinion on sports right about now. I’d rather listen to an endless loop of Woody Durham calling Carolina games than any of the crap on ESPN

Queen City
Queen City
2 months ago

Everybody liked Mary Garber a long time Winston-Salem Journal sports writer At one point she was the only and maybe the first full time female sports writer at a daily newspaper. She was a huge advocate for W.S High School athletics. It was a big deal if she showed up at your school. She retired from the paper years ago along with most of its subscribers. Other than the obituaries, I’m not sure why anyone purchases it anymore.

Chip
Chip
2 months ago
Reply to  Queen City

Speaking of WS, Lennox Rawlings used to piss me off at least once a week in the WS Journal. What I wouldn’t give to go back to that!

DM Carpenter
DM Carpenter
2 months ago

Sorry to hear of Dennis Roger’s passing. As a young kid, his column was the first thing I read. He was expert at finding and introducing us to “characters”. I recall a period, when he would read selected columns on WPTF radio morning show. The voice you heard on the radio was exactly what you expected.
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Kay Currie was not part of my childhood. Growing up in Raleigh, we only got WITN, when the wind blew from Little Washington. However, I am sure she was from the same mold as Peggy Mann, who we watched on WTVD.

DM Carpenter
DM Carpenter
2 months ago
Reply to  BobLee

Yes, Kays Gary in Charlotte, as well as AC Snow in Raleigh. He, Snow, lived “down the road” from us.

MPW
MPW
2 months ago

You always bring up the best memories for us all down East!
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I remember Kay Currie and Dennis Rogers. They were both as you described them and were part of who we were and now what is gone. Great job once again.
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You and Rush are the only “media celebrities” I trust and enjoy these days!

RaleighJacket
RaleighJacket
2 months ago

Another classic BL observation: ““Playing piano in a whorehouse” or “working for the IRS” would be a less volatile introductory line.”. True statement about the media (of all sort) these days.

Doug
Doug
2 months ago

A blast from the past. Dennis Rogers is the father of the modern BBQ debate between eastern & western NC probably as a result of this statement. “Residing as we do in perfect Eastern North Carolina, it is tempting to look down our fortunate noses at those miserable wretches forced by bad circumstances to eat inferior Western North Carolina BBQ” . I actually spoke with Kay Currie one time on a telephone around midnight probably in 1979/80 when WITN was doing one of those all night telethons to raise money for a childhood disease. Can’t remember which one. She was… Read more »

Ken.RMount
2 months ago

Do you think Dennis Rogers actually did “retire” or was he deemed “unaffordable”?
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And where is WolfKennel? Is he still fogging a mirror somewhere?

fayettewuf
fayettewuf
2 months ago

I had not thought of Kay Currie in a long time. Brought back memories of WITN and WNCT. Sherman Husted, W.B. Debnam, Slim Short and some guy that put on a cowboy hat and hosted the Cactus Jim show. Ms. Curry was a touch of sophistication in Eastern NC. I would like to read a collection of Dennis Rogers’ column now.

TarHeel69
TarHeel69
2 months ago

This column brought back some very fond memories. I have lived in the Washington area since 1973, and was exposed to Kay both “on the street”, and on tv. She always had a smile, and never an unkind word. She drove a big yellow convertible, and lived in a small A-frame house on the 11th hole of the WYCC. . As for Dennis, I fell in love with his style while in that pinko school in Chapel Hill that Jessie Helms loved so much. I continued to enjoy his sense of humor until he retire. . My lord, I miss… Read more »

BC.PVF
2 months ago

BL, thank you for the nice message about Dennis Rogers. I thoroughly enjoyed his columns over those 8 years we lived in Raleigh. America seemed to be a “kinder, more gentle “place.

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