Beth Troutman Sat Down with 'Up Front' to discuss Emmy Win and Her Life Since She Left WCNC
Mar 13, 2020 12:47PM
By Jason Huddle
An Interview with Beth Troutman Whaley
Just ahead on Upfront with Cabarrus magazine, we talked with emmy winning journalist and Cabarrus County native Beth Troutman Whaley.
Poverty looks the same everywhere. Corruption causes the same problems everywhere. People are incredible everywhere.
We'll talk to her about her experiences after she gave up her anchor
position on a major network news station in Charlotte and her thoughts on the media now. I've been a member of the media for a long time, and you said something that just kind of sparked something with me. You said, the stories that we get told or of a very small portion of the country. Why? That's just ahead on Upfront with Cabarrus magazine, a presentation of CabCo Media Group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage. Cabarrus Arena and Events Center, Cabarrus Eye Center, Certec Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, New Hope Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus, I'm Your Host, Jason Huddle. Hello, my friends and welcome once again to Episode 50. We have made it to the big 50 milestone, and I am so thrilled that you are with us today. We have a very special guest in studio Beth Troutman or some of you know here as Beth Troutman Whaley. She is a member of the famous Troutman family in Cabarrus County. You've probably eaten their barbecue or even possibly bought a car or even rented or bought a home. They are great family. They are a pillar of this community, and Beth has represented her county and family well. She has been a journalist for many years. She was on some national shows and then came back to work at WCNC NBC six and took the anchor position there for the evening news. And then a little over three years ago, she walked away from it all in order to do what she felt she had to do. She felt she had a greater mission, and we're going to get into what she has been doing since she walked away from that anchor desk. Incredible woman, a fabulous guest, and I'm thrilled to have her in studio with us, so I'm looking forward to our conversation with her. But before we get to Beth, we have to get to shameless plug time debuting next week on Cabarrus magazine dot com. we have our annual summer camp guide, sponsored by Code Ninjas. If you were starting to plan what your kids are going to be doing over the summer, this is a great resource for you. We have all kinds of information on summer camps. Their cost, the links to get registered or for more information. It's a great one stop source, and we appreciate Code Ninjas who are also supporters of this program for their sponsorship of the summer camp guide. So make sure you check that out should be out next week at Cabarrus magazine dot com. Just go check it out there on the website, and that is today's shameless plug time. Alright we've got a long conversation coming up with Beth Troutman Whaley and I cannot wait to get to it. So I'm gonna cut a break and we come back she will be in studio next.
Welcome back to Up Front with Cabarrrus Magazine. I'm sitting in studio with the very lovely Beth Troutman Whaley.
Thank you for coming in, I feel like we have a celebrity in our midst.
Oh, you're so sweet and you're the only person who actually uses my married name. So it's always interesting to hear that one said out loud.
Well, I never know because some people, especially, is someone in your position. They have professional names.
I know right!
And so you know, I don't know. Anyway, I just figured I'd be proper.
Well, thank you. I always, you know, I've always gone by Beth Troutman in public. So it's It's always It's always interesting, but in private, you know, people call me Mrs Whaley all of the time because my husband has, but it's it's interesting to hear both of them together.
Troutman Whaley so, Beth?
We interviewed you three years ago almost to the day. Um, about you had just left your anchor position. Evening anchor position at a major network news. What an incredible, incredible move to make on your own because you felt like there was something else that God had for you.
That's uh, it's so true and it's lovely that you put it that way, thank you. It was a shocking thing, I think for a lot of people when that happened, some people told me I was absolutely crazy to make a move like that because people who work in television certainly worked their entire lives to get the main anchor position for an evening newscast on on a major station and you know, in the community that I grew up in as well, it was kind of a dream job for a lot of people. But I did feel like I needed to tell different kinds of stories because at the end of the day, I wanted my life to be more about kindness and inspiring people to be the the best versions of themselves and I felt as a newscaster, I was spending a great deal of my time talking about a very small percentage of our communities and a lot of that had to do with crime and violence. And you know, the things that aren't the majority of what's going on in any given community. And I didn't want to be known just for creating fear. I wanted to be known for creating hope. And ironically, I ended up eight days after my last day on the air, going to Haiti with an organization called Give Hope Global. And when I got down there, it was life changing. And, you know, again, people told me I was crazy and that it was gonna be a dangerous place to be. And I just found it to be such a lovely country. And the people were so incredible. And I ended up shooting some short documentaries while I was there. My main focus was to help the organization raise money to continue the work that they were doing and to get their story out. But the short documentaries ended up getting a lot of attention, and that was surprising and shocking. And I now look at those moments as God winks kind of nudging you along to say it's it's okay. The choices you made are good ones. Keep trying. Keep. Keep moving forward.
Right, So I want to put a pin in the documentary so we'll come back to those in a second. But let's talk about getting to Haiti and let's talk about what you experienced there. When you get off the plane, what do you see?
Well, it's the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, So when you get off the plane, it's initially shocking to the system. Port au Prince was still and still is dealing with a great deal of poverty, still dealing with reconstruction from the earthquake from hurricanes, and I had not witnessed poverty like that. I certainly had seen poverty when I was in Brazil covering the Olympics when I was in Rio. This was a different level. And your first instinct. I think when you come into a place from an American perspective, is you compare. You know, you compare this life to the life that you're accustomed to, and I think that's the wrong way to approach it. You have to go in and start seeing life through the eyes of the people who live in that space, and that took me a few days to realize and to understand and what you come away with and what I started seeing while I was There was this beautiful sense of community and kindness and generosity, and we were so welcomed by people. And so people were so loving and wanting to communicate and talk and hold hands and hug and welcome you into their homes, no matter how their homes look. And what you understand is that you know the stuff, all of the material goods that we have, all that stuff really doesn't matter. Ultimately, if you don't have this beautiful sense of love and kindness and generosity toward your fellow human beings and the communities they all seem to have that just in just tremendous amounts. And that was what the experience really became. It wasn't about just seeing the poverty. It was about seeing the richness of existence and life and humanity.
I've talked to other people who have gone on missions trips to Haiti, and they talked about the desperation that some of these people have that they're getting on a van and people are trying to shove their babies into the van with them and saying, Please take my kid. Is that accurate?
I didn't have an experience to that degree with desperation. I was living at an orphanage. The Children there were because of the organization I was working with were very well taken care of doing really, really well. I also volunteered in a hospital there, which was also a shock to the system because it's 3rd World Hospital, which is very different from what our hospitals look like. I was, you know, scrubbed up. I was in surgery's not performing the surgery's obviously, but I was in in the room with people and the life is definitely different, you know, in the hospitals, particularly the families are responsible for getting medications to their family members. They are the ones who stay there and help take care. It's not help take care of the patient. It's not really, you know, nurses and doctors that are bringing all of that stuff in. The families have to leave the hospital, go pick medication, open a pharmacy, bring things back, and that created a sense of, I think, desperation for some people that I saw children who had developed mental disabilities who had been abandoned at hospitals because their families couldn't take care of them. So I saw that kind of desperation and what you really come to learn about countries like Haiti, places where there are financial and political problems is that a great deal of it has to do with corruption on you know, the scale of the leaders themselves. But the majority of people again are trying to do the right thing. But you have a level of corruption, people who are greedy and who are power hungry or who are who have become, you know, incredibly arrogant because of power who aren't looking after the least among them. And that's what ends up causing the problems that create desperate scenarios. It is always because of corruption. It's always because of corrupt humans.
There,I don't know if you remember. There's a Christian artist from the seventies and eighties Randy Stonehill, who had a song called Ringing of the Bells, and it's about Haiti. It's about he talks about the cruise ships and all the luxury right off the shore and all the poverty that's there but he talks about corruption.
And it's heartbreaking. It really is because and you see it in countries around the world who were dealing with this. It is all about power and money. And when you really break life down, there's air. The things that we're not supposed to be focusing on, you know, we are supposed to be focusing on each other and on humanity. And, you know, you've also got the Dominican Republican shares the island where you've got, you know, luxury resorts and things. And then, you know, here on this other side, you do see a great deal of poverty, and the stark contrast is jarring. It's it's definitely jarring. But also, I think, makes one aware of how we can do better if it helps you become incredibly aware of what really should matter.
Okay, so let's come back to these documentaries. You do, you do this documentary that wins an Emmy.
You're an Emmy Award winning journalist. How cool is that?
It's crazy about that.
From right here in Cabarrus County.
The crazy part is that I have worked in television for 20 years, you know, doing what what everyone else wanted me to do and kind of the stories that producers wanted me to tell, and you never even nominated for an Emmy.
Then I kind of went off into this passion project and wasn't shooting the documentaries for any kind of acclaim or anything like that and then for it, it got nominated for four Emmys. At one, too, and 1 for editing as well, which the director, you know ended up getting that second when it I was blown away and so incredibly grateful, and it gave me that push that reminded me that it's it's okay to follow your heart and to not live your life based on what other people think you should be doing, but what you should be doing for yourself or what Maybe you were put here to do, because I think I really do believe that we're all here for a purpose and that I think the 20 years of television maybe it was a training ground for learning how to develop the skills needed to tell stories that means something to me, and that hopefully means something to people in a large scale.
So before we go to break, where can people find this documentary series to watch?
It is on YouTube, the documentary that got the Emmy it's called. It's a It's a long title. If I had known that it was gonna get an Emmy, I think I would have titled it Something better. But it's called the Give Hope Global Medical Team Mini documentary.
That is a mouthful.
I know right?
Very good. So you can check that out on YouTube. All right, we're gonna pay a few bills, and when we come back, we're gonna talk about what's next for Beth Troutman Whaley. You guys stay tuned, we'll be back right after this.
Welcome back we are sitting here with Cabarrus County native daughter Beth Troutman Whaley. Beth thank you for coming in studio with us again and spending your time with us today.
Absolutely I'm thrilled to be hereI've loved you for what we've known each other a long time.
Have we go back a long ways
A long time? So when you asked for me to come here, didn't hesitate, I jumped at the chance.
I appreciate it cause I already put the ad in the magazine.
It's a good thing I said yes.
crossing my fingers on that. So let's talk about what's next. You came back from Haiti. What have you been doing since
That changed my life. Certainly being in Haiti and it it kind of I think reminded me of the choices that I made, you know, to walk away from the career that I had built it. It validated it all because I saw I really saw what life is supposed to be. And I started getting asked to do a lot of public speaking, which I still do in places all over the country. I talk about purpose and finding a life with purpose and helping create that for yourself. But then I also kept getting asked because of the short documentary to to work on other documentary projects. The show, The Morning Show I used to do for a Lifetime, had created this kind of spin off documentary series, and they asked me to come in and do a few of them with organizations that were doing good work all over the country. And all of that kept building and kept showing me, I think difference ways to approach life, and I really started understanding that these are the kinds of stories I love to tell. It's kind of this documentary long form telling these very human stories. And so I partnered with last year a director that I had worked with through this show on Lifetime. Another woman and we could have created our own concept, which was something I've always really wanted to do. Was kind of tell stories on my own terms. And we spent all last year putting the concept together and putting together a pilot episode and trying to make it happen. And we ultimately were successful at creating the pilot episode. And we've spent almost a month in Pakistan in October of last year shooting, this documentary series pilot and oh my gosh, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life to go through the process of coming up with a concept and then making it happen. You know, this was something that the director her name is Christy Arcee. And she was incredibly passionate about this concept and helped me kind of come in and be a part of it as well. And two women, you know, trying to make a documentary happen in Pakistan is not common, but it certainly is possible. And we we were able to go and spend, huh? A lot of time in, uh, four different cities in Pakistan.
How does Pakistan compared with Haiti? Or does it?
Well you know the thing that I realized when I was there, as, um, poverty looks the same everywhere. Corruption causes the same problems everywhere. People are incredible everywhere. And so I think that that's the ways that they compare. The documentary series is called Travel With Love, and the whole concept was inspired by the time that I spent in Haiti and the time that I spent actually in Rio, covering the Olympics. It's amazing how, when you travel to places that not a lot of people travel to, how many people will come to you and tell you that you need to be scared, you know that that people are bad or that there's something dangerous you know about the space you're going to. I certainly got a great deal of that when I went to Rio, and we've did security calls, You know about how you might get kidnapped and things like that, and so I would have gone into places being really, really scared. And what I ultimately realized is that we are being told stories about places all over the world that represent a very small portion of the country, and that again you run into The majority of people are just like us. Everyone is the same in our cores. You know where we want happiness. We want love. We want health for our families. You know, food for our family is the everyone. We're all based at the same thing, which is ultimately love. I mean, that's that's the thing that is the driving force that connects us all. It sounds really complex, but it's so simple, a simple and complex all at the same time.
So I don't really want to get off on a rabbit trail, but I'm gonna get off on a rabbit trail.
Let's do it!
Because you were a member of the media for a long time, still are in a different way. But you are a member of the media on your own terms. I've been a member of the media for a long time, and you said something that just kind of sparked something with me. And you said the stories that we get told or of a very small portion of that country. Why? Why do we not hear about these tales of resilience?
You know, I think there are a couple of things going on. You know, one of the reasons is profit. You know that people are making decisions at big levels in small levels when it comes t news media. It's kind of sensationalized. You know, the visuals of a riot happening or a car wreck or, you know, a crime scene or a burning car or a war scene. You know those images they exist. They certainly exist. And I think that there's a belief that those images sell more, that they're going to beam or enticing and that you're ultimately gonna have higher ratings, which ultimately means more profit. You know, I think that's one of the things that happens.
Congressman Richard Hudson was on this program back in July for July 4th program, and he said, when a journalist said to him One time, We don't write stories about planes landing right, Same thing, right?
I mean, and there's the everyone's heard, the comment. You know the saying if it bleeds, it leads and there is some truth to that to a degree, and I think the thing that I think people forget is that we as the consumers as the people watching, we actually drive this. If we didn't watch then you then it wouldn't be quite that. But we seem to and I think it's human. Nature is why there's a traffic jam. If there is, Ah, car accident is good, people stop and they look at it.
They cant help it.
Right. I think there's, ah sense of curiosity and we've also now it's kind of a self perpetuating thing. If we start feeling fear, fear kind of perpetuates itself. If you live in a fear culture, then you're going to be more drawn to the things that are fear inducing. You know that. So it becomes this big circle that just keeps getting larger and larger. It's like a ball of twine. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger. The goal. My goal is to offer an alternative, you know, so that there because I think one thing that we're lacking right now is hope, and there is so much hope. You know, there actually is so much good that's happening. And when I went to Pakistan, for example, it was another situation where people were telling me that I was going to run into a lot of anti American sentiment that I was gonna, you know, possibly see terrorists. Those were the stories that they knew about Pakistan because those were the stories that have been told.
And I'm not gonna lie. I was nervous. I was nervous before I hopped on that plane and flew there. And I was really, really pleasantly surprised. I wasn't I wasn't afraid. Once I got to we landed in Islamabad, which is the capital city. And there was a moment I went to this place called Faisal Mosque, which is a beautiful, just enormous Mosque, very well known. And I went during prayer time uhh, there were 12,000 people praying there, and I did have to cover my head, you know, out of respect, to go into the mosque. And there was a separate prayer area. The men and women don't pray together. And there was a women im a burka, a full burka that was welcoming me at the door to the prayer room and she grabbed my hands. And then she lifted her veil and showed me her face. You this beautiful smile and she kissed both of my cheeks. And then she said, We're so happy to have you here. And in that moment I had this realization, You know that ultimately we all just want to be seen for who we are. But there were lifting, Ah, physical veil or this unit like metaphorical veil that we all put on the social media or, you know, our our face that we put on when we're out in public. We all just really want to be seen and accepted for who we are. And that's the goal of the work that I'm trying to do is letting people get a peek behind the veil and really connect with humans on the level where it really matters and where it's really important. So I just went down a completely other rabbit hole.
That's fine, but it makes a nice segway to my last question in a minute or so that we have left.
Yeah, I'm sorry. I talk a lot
Its ok! It's been good conversation. We'll have to have you back. But what's next? What's next for
Beth Troutman Whaley?
Beth Troutman Whaley?
Well, I'm almost done with the edit for this Pakistan documentary, and if it is successful in the ways that we hope it will be probably nine episodes per season so that would be nine different countries each season and again showcasing people all over the world and really connecting on a human level to help people get over this current language that we are hearing far too much of the fear of the other people who look different, people who worship differently, people from different socioeconomic situations. We shouldn't fear each other, and we shouldn't ignore each other or judge and look down on each other. What we need to be doing is loving each other in true, unconditional love and being more accepting of each other and offering grace and kindness and generosity because that's the only way we're going to see our way out of what I think people feel like is really dark times right now. And the only way out is through kindness. And it's through understanding and grace and and and unconditional love.
Very good. Beth Troutman Whaley Thank you so much for spending time with this today.
It's my pleasure. Such an honor.
So if the pilot gets picked up, this will be on Lifetime. Is that right?
No. So the goal is one of the streaming networks, like Netflix or Amazon Prime. I'm trying to go in the way that media is headed now, you know, like traditional television is, I'm sorry to say, but I think it's a thing that's gunna be in the past, and people are definitely consuming information in a very different thing.
Most of my shows.
I've been cable cutter myself. I only watched mostly documentaries on all of the streaming service is, and that's where I want this to be so that people can watch on their own time in a in a moment when they're comfortable with the information and can experience it for themselves and then come away with their own conclusions. Because the only way to really I think, um, have an impact is to open hearts by being the best version of yourself and not being argumentative or again, I keep using the word grace, and they would the word love, but trying to offer those things and opening people's hearts by trying to live those words.
Beth thanks so much for coming in today, really appreciate. We will have to have you back because we have lots more to talk about. I'm sure maybe we'll even maybe we'll even do a Skype interview via you know where you're in some distant Third World country and we're having a conversation about what's going on.
I'd be happy to do it, cause I would love to be able to show some of these experiences to, especially the behind the scenes experiences to people because, um, these things have been life changing, and I would wish that everyone would have these kinds of opportunities because it really does as Mark Twain said. You know it. I'm paraphrasing his his quote, but travel is fatal to close mindedness and bigotry.
I will have to let that be the last word Beth, thanks so much for coming in. You guys make sure you check out Beth`s New documentary will keep you posted as to where you can find it. As soon as we know we will be back in just a couple minutes to wrap up the show. You guys stay tuned.
I am so thankful for Beth for coming onto the program. She is an extraordinary woman. She has done a lot in her life and has not rested on their laurels of her family in order to get her through. She has definitely made her own way sometimes in the way. Maybe those around her didn't think she should. And I said when she walked away in 2017 from the anchor desk and I will say it again, that it takes incredible bravery to do what she did to take a great gig, that, as she said, some people wait their whole lives for and walk away from it in order to do something That she felt was her calling, with no guarantees that she would be successful. But she has been successful, and she has done it on her own terms. And for that I give you much respect. Beth. Some of you may be a little bit confused because we had originally tease that this week we will be talking about the property reevaluations in comparison counting, which we are going to get to. I am talking to the county and working out the right people to talk to an interview and ask questions to get you real answers. So I am looking forward to that. But that will be next week. So we just flip flopped. Beth Troutman and the property re evaluations. I hope you don't mind, and we hope that you will tune in next week. Before I go. I'd like to touch on Beth Main message, which is this. All you need is love. We need to show some kindness, people we need to start heading The words of John F. Kennedy, who said, WHO said We all breathe the same air. We cherish our Children's future, and we are all mortal at the end of the day, that's it. And that's what Beth is trying to show with your documentaries. And I hope that even when you're on Facebook and you could be a keyboard warrior. I hope you keep that in mind. At the end of the day, we all just want what's best for ourselves, our families, those we love. That's it. The rest is just smoke and mirrors. That was a really short soapbox today, but I don't think anything else really needs to be said. Make sure you join us next week to talk about those property re evaluations. I'm sure that most of you will be interested in that, especially if you own any property in Cabarrus County. You got that notice you're probably paying a higher bill. We want some answers, so we're gonna be talking about that next week. Until then, this has been up front with Cabarrus Magazine, a presentation of CabCo media group and sponsored by Atlantic Bay Mortgage, Cabarrus Arena and Event Center, Cabarrus Eye Center. Certec Automotive, The Circle: A World of Wellness for Women, Code Ninjas, Concord Downtown Development Corporation, Family Wealth Partners, New Hope, Worship Center and Walk Cabarrus. Please always remember to support those that support us. I've been your host, Jason Huddle until next week be like Beth. Go out and take some risks.