Cullen Browder, one of the nation’s top investigative journalists, will be the speaker at OLLI’s Fall Semester Kick-Off and Open House at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 6. His timely subject: “The Importance of Investigative Reporting to Our Democracy.”
Cullen knows all about investigative reporting. That’s his beat at WRAL-TV News, where he is the chief investigative reporter. His work has won him major regional and national awards since he joined the station in 1998. It’s likely that his role has never been more challenging than today, with a President accusing the media of “fake news,” and Americans throughout the country debating major issues and how the media cover them.
The Tennessee native has received multiple Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He’s also been honored by the Associated Press and the Radio Television Digital News Association. The Washington Post has recognized him as one of the best state capitol reporters in America, helping to bring about significant changes in North Carolina state government. He’s also explored issues from citizens battling Alzheimer’s to the challenge of homelessness.
Raised in Athens, Tenn., Cullen graduated from UNC in Chapel Hill in 1986 with a major in speech communication. But his unlikely first job out of college was processing fish on a ship in Alaska. He says he’d always wanted to visit the state, and he craved adventure. After a summer handling black cod and salmon, he got that adventure while exploring the Aleutian Islands and then riding a motorcycle from Anchorage to San Diego.
Cullen’s journalism career began in radio news at two stations in central Massachusetts. He soon got into television at a station in Worcester, Mass., before joining a TV station in Chattanooga. WRTV-TV in Indianapolis hired him in 1996 as weekend anchor and reporter, and two years later he joined WRAL as reporter and anchor.
He and his wife, Ela, have a son and daughter. In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys playing and watching sports, travel, reading (favorite book and movie: “To Kill a Mockingbird”), and “speaking to local groups” — like OLLI. His talk is free, but you must register by Friday, Sept. 1 at [email address]. The Open House, featuring booths on the benefits of OLLI membership, also is an opportunity to socialize with members, staff, and campus and community partners. You also can enjoy refreshments and learn about volunteer opportunities with OLLI committees and special interest groups.