WRAL-TV, Raleigh, was one of the earliest television stations in North Carolina. And since it was in the state capitol, it quickly became the flagship station. Jesse Helms got his first statewide exposure there as a reporter and commentator. He even had a late night talk show that came on after Johnny Carson on Friday nights and went on into the wee hours. Quite entertaining.

Last week, Scott Mason, who produces a WRAL evening news segment branded Tarheel Traveler, called and asked if we could help him with a seasonal piece about the Thanksgiving Day fire that destroyed the brand new Zinzendorf Hotel in 1892.

We ended up talking at length about the extraordinary collections housed in the NC Room. He asked “Who built this collection?” I said “Essentially, two people, Anne Correll and Jerry Carroll.” He asked “Are either of them still alive?” I assured him that Jerry was very much alive and worth a separate story. So we scheduled two shoots for last week.

As it turned out, Scott got way behind that day, so Jerry and I agreed to do the Zinzendorf story together. Scott will return to do another piece on Jerry and the collection. Scott understands that there are many more marvelous stories lurking in the NC Room. I hope this will become a regular part of their statewide rotation.

To see the segment that aired on WRAL’s 6 O’clock News this Tuesday, November 24, 2009 (exactly 117 years after the Zinzendorf fire), go here.

BTW, the segment mentions that R.J. Reynolds had gone hunting that morning and had brought his bag to the noted chef at the Zinzendorf to be cooked for Thanksgiving. As the story goes, John Cameron Buxton, a lawyer, education advocate and later, the godfather of the 1906 Carnegie Public Library, had accompanied Reynolds that morning. Afterward, he was said to note that yes, his goose got cooked, but that it was a bit overdone for his taste.

I do not know how long this link will be available on the WRAL site, but Scott has assured me that we will receive a DVD with the segment on it. I hope that this will become the first of a collection of many.