By Joanna Ernst
Chris Thomas relocated from Augusta to Richmond fairly recently, online appearing on our local airwaves toward the tail end of 2012. In only a few short months, mind Thomas has emerged as a well-known reporter and familiar face on both NBC 12 and CW Richmond.
Thomas started out studying English on scholarship at Morehouse College in Atlanta, nurse graduating with departmental honors while interning for a local news station. He cultivated his early career working as an Associate Producer in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Thomas then went on to anchor newscasts in Augusta, Georgia, for five years before joining WWBT.
It’s not surprising that Chris would be sorely missed when leaving his five-year post in Augusta. The Georgia Association of Broadcasters had named him Best On-Air Personality in 2011. Reporting his departure with a heartfelt published sendoff, the station said that they “had big shoes to fill”.
“The era of Chris Thomas in Augusta is drawing to a close,” reported News 12 on November 4, 2012. In the same article, Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver commented to Chris, “You have added a lot to the city, so I will tell you…I just wish the best for you.”
Although viewers called in begging the anchor to stay south of Virginia, the popular TV ad radio personality prepared to begin anew. And now the era of Chris Thomas in Richmond has begun its broadcast on NBC 12 and CW Richmond. As the Augusta article mused, it “seems like News 12 will follow him wherever he goes!”
In the past, Thomas has interviewed baseball all-star Cal Ripken, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Medal of Freedom recipient Rev. Joseph Lowery. Today, the charismatic correspondent takes some time to answer questions and share his own story.
Q. What do you miss most about living in Birmingham?
A: I’m a proud Mama’s boy from a single parent home in Birmingham, Alabama. I miss my mom the most. But I do my best to stay in touch. She knows to expect a call somewhere around midnight or so when I finish my night shift at NBC 12.
Q. And what about Augusta?
A: The people of Augusta were really good to me. I worked at News 12 in Augusta. Many of the viewers still post on my NBC 12 Facebook page. I will be forever grateful to the people of Augusta who embraced me and welcomed me into their homes for five years.
Q. What do you like most about living in Richmond?
A. I love Richmond! I enjoy coming home and looking at the city skyline from my apartment that sits right off the Manchester Bridge. The Grand Illumination was a real treat. The even better treat is the fact that Croaker’s Spot is just a few blocks away from home. The salmon cakes and macaroni and cheese are my favorite.
Q. You covered your first snowstorm in Richmond recently. Did you ever imagine yourself talking about snow in late-March?
A. I enjoyed every minute of it. I can count on one hand the number of times it snowed in my hometown of Birmingham.
Q. You utilize social media for both NBC12 and CW coverage. How do you use social media to connect to your audience?
A. I’m partial to Facebook. It is the best way to shoot me a quick story idea or just say hello. I check it every day. Social media is a neat way to interact with viewers in a relaxed and more informal setting.
Q. What’s it been like since you took over as news anchor for the CW News at 6:30 in December 2012?
A. It has been a busy blast so far. NBC 12 News is “On Your Side” and “We’ve Got Your Back” on the CW News at 6:30. Each Monday we track the latest job openings with the CW Job Watch. We’ve Got Your Back every Tuesday with a look at the latest scams and a report from Crime Stoppers. We just partnered with Urban Views to launch our Scholar of the Week segment that will air every Wednesday.
Each Thursday We’ve Got Your Back with a report from Crime Solvers, and we have fun every Friday. I team up with Sheilah Belle (The Belle) from Praise 104.7 for Faith on Fridays each week. We highlight The Good News on the news. Fred Hammond, Byron Cage, Dottie Peoples, Marvin Winans and James Fortune have all made an appearance on Faith on Fridays, and we are just getting started.
We also feature our Scene in Virginia Photo Friday winner each week. None of this would be possible without an amazing news team. The CW family and our sister station NBC 12 are filled with immensely talented people who make challenging and difficult stories compelling, concise and conversational every single day. I feel blessed to work with such an amazing team.
Q. CW is partnering with Urban Views Weekly for our Scholar of the Week Promotion. How do you feel about participating in this program?
A. I am really excited about the Scholar of the Week segment. It is a priceless opportunity to highlight the positive things our young people are doing in the community. I am happy to use time on the CW News at 6:30 to replace a mug shot with a graduation headshot.
Q. How has being African American influenced your role in the community as a leader and a public figure?
A. My story is like that of so many young men and women today. I grew up with my mother and grandmother. My father was absent due to drug and alcohol abuse. I could have easily been just another statistic if not for prayer and a determination to do well in school.
I was so blessed to get an academic scholarship to Morehouse College. I majored in English and interned at WSB-TV in Atlanta. I became the 5 p.m. anchor in the second largest city in the state of Georgia at 25, and I’m now an anchor and reporter in the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia at age 27 because God is good!
My grandmother always said, “God made you, and he didn’t make no junk!” I hope my story inspires other young people growing up in the inner city to stay encouraged and never give up.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” by Marianne Williamson.
Q. Now that you came and conquered Richmond, what are your future goals?
A. I just got here! We are just getting started. I am convinced God can dream a bigger dream for me than I can dream for myself. My prayer is that I make the most of this opportunity.
Q. Thanks, Chris. When should we be tuning in?
A. Be sure and watch for me each night on the CW News at 6:30 and on NBC 12 at 11.