Larry Audas, WFMY’s general manager, wanted to share this tribute to Lee Kinard posted on the station’s website, along with some videos. On one Facebook post about Kinard, Audas wrote, “Respectfully, Lee was the Walter Cronkite of Greensboro, but his influence, service and love of community extended beyond the news desk. He was a pioneer and will be remembered.”
Lee Kinard, a longtime news anchor for WFMY, Tegna’s CBS affiliate in Greensboro, N.C., died on Oct. 20. He was 86 years old and married to his wife Ann for 66 years.
A legend in Piedmont Triad broadcasting, Kinard began working at WFMY in 1956 when he was 25, according to the station.
According to an interview in 1999 with the Greensboro News & Record about his retirement, Kinard talked about why he stayed at one station.
“Why should I have left? I had it all,” he said.
“I had my own program. I could do documentaries. I could do about anything I wanted to because the people who employed me believed in me. The people who sought me out wanted to put me in specific boxes, and I wouldn’t be boxed up.”
“Respectfully, Lee was the Walter Cronkite of Greensboro… but his influence, service and love of community extended beyond the news desk. He was a pioneer and will be remembered," said WFMY President & GM Larry Audas.
Posted by WFMY News 2 on Saturday, October 20, 2018
Larry Audas, WFMY’s general manager, wanted to share this tribute posted on the station’s website, along with some videos.
On one Facebook post about Kinard, Audas wrote, “Respectfully, Lee was the Walter Cronkite of Greensboro, but his influence, service and love of community extended beyond the news desk. He was a pioneer and will be remembered.”
Audas isn’t the only one to compare Kinard to legendary anchorman Walter Cronkite.
Here’s one of many comments from WFMY’s Facebook page about Kinard.
RIP Lee Kinard. He is a throwback anchor who reported the news in a bipartisan way and without agenda. Our local Walter Cronkite. — Dale
He was such a big part of my day getting ready for work for so many years. — Kim
I remember meeting him at the circus when I was little. I remember he was a very nice gentleman. He took the time to talk to a 7-year-old little boy and made him feel special. — Ray
Here’s Larry Audus’ story, Last Lunch with Lee.
The call came mid-morning last Saturday. Our assignment editor was on the other end of the line, telling me it was Lee Kinard’s last day with us. The news and social media wheels at Lee’s beloved WFMY shifted into high gear at that moment to honor a legend with a legacy who had passed.
Former WFMY News 2 Anchor Lee Kinard was 86. Some six decades earlier he walked into the place and changed it and in some respects, changed broadcasting for good. Along the way, he changed many a life too.
If you’ve watched local news in the morning, you too are connected to Lee Kinard. He was the father of WFMY’s the Good Morning Show, the first known local morning news program in the country.
Was Lee the host, weatherman, interviewer or producer? Yes. And he pioneered morning news as no local anchor had before. For one thing, there really weren’t many local anchors to speak of 61 years ago. So, Lee made mornings good in Greensboro in his own style. In the era of radio, the Good Morning Show was a keeper – still on the air today.
Lee would go on to anchor evening news and travel internationally to produce a series of exotic reports that would be impressive today and unmatched then.
He was in the middle of civil rights change in the Greensboro of the 1960s and mentored the market’s most prominent minority anchor, Sandra Hughes. She calls Lee a career-maker for her and tells of his support when tough days included bomb threats called in to the station.
Beyond any controversy though, Lee Kinard was your neighbor. And a friendly one at that, your neighbor with the news.
You liked him. Trusted him. That’s how I felt at a last lunch with Lee.
I had called him with the thought he might want to appear on our 60th Anniversary Good Morning Show.
Over lunch, Lee kindly told me he was healthy, ready, able to report daily over the month-long series of anniversary newscasts.
And so he did, bringing back a slice of how it used to be compared to the stressful world viewers know today. Like our lunch, Lee’s return to the Good Morning Show was over too soon it seemed.
Later, I called to check on Lee after a fall at home. He was fine but wanted to tell me the anniversary show producer had been too careful with him, should have included him in more segments. Just because he was 80-something didn’t mean Lee couldn’t keep up.
“Right?” I agreed with Lee, thanked him again, and said good-bye.
There likely will not be another Lee Kinard. And that’s as it should be. Lee was an original in life, on the air and in the community.
WFMY, Greensboro and the Piedmont-Triad were blessed to know and watch the man who first made TV professional, yet personal in North Carolina.