Harry Mabry

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Harry Mabry (born January 11, 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; died January 10, 2004 in Anniston) was a television news director and anchor in Birmingham and Anniston.

Mabry moved with his parents to Birmingham at an early age. Following his graduation from Phillips High School in 1948, he attended the University of Alabama, where he received a degree in Radio-TV in 1953. Even before graduating college, he was employed as an announcer by WHMA-AM Radio in Anniston from 1949 to 1952, and worked for a year at Atlanta's WAGA in 1952. From 1953 to 1956 he was a decorated Navy communications officer, serving primarily in Osaka, Japan.

Following his discharge in 1956 and until 1958, Mabry was a staff announcer for WMCT-TV, in Memphis, Tennessee. Among other duties he hosted the live afternoon children's show "Looney Zoo" in his "Looney Zookeeper" uniform. The show was based around the Looney Tunes cartoons and included three puppet co-hosts and a live studio audience. Mabry also anchored local newscasts at the station, and became notorious in Memphis for moving his desk from the studio to outside the station, conducting a late-night news cast in the season's first snowfall.

Mabry returned to Birmingham in 1958 as news editor for WBRC-TV, where he was responsible for establishing the station's editorial policy and also served as an on-air news anchor. He remained in Birmingham with WBRC throughout the 1960s. Some of his most important reporting was on the Civil Rights movement. Mabry is responsible for much of the film footage documenting the movement in Birmingham, and was seen standing to the side of protesters attempting to protect his camera from the spray of the fire hoses while continuing to film the altercations between the protestors and the Birmingham Police and Fire Departments.

In 1969, Mabry moved to Anniston to launch WHMA-TV as general manager and news director/anchor. He remained there for twenty years. His crews filmed a disgruntled carpenter who followed through on threats to set himself on fire to protest his unemployment. Mabry was shaken by the gruesome spectacle.

WHMA was sold to Jacksonville State University in 1983 and re-launched as WJSU-TV, selling it three years later at a $2.6 million profit. In 1989 Mabry returned to WBRC as chief of the station's Anniston-based East Alabama bureau. In 1991 he began working as a communications consultant, helping a new television station in Gadsden and rebuilding WOXR-AM. He traveled to the former Soviet Union in 1996 with the Citizens Democracy Corps and International Executive Service Corps, helping former state-owned media outlets reorganize as commercial entities.

Mabry served on the boards of Regions Bank and the Regional Medical Center Foundation and chaired the board of the Anniston Museum of Natural History. He was a former president of the Alabama Broadcasting Association and directed the Knox Concert Series. He was named "Outstanding Alumnus" by the University of Alabama School of Communications in 1983, and Alabama Broadcaster of the Year in 1993.

Mabry died at his home in Anniston, in January 2004 of a heart attack.

References

  • "Harry Mabry" (June 23, 2014) Wikipedia - accessed September 26, 2014