Telling the tale of one woman's tragedy has netted an Emmy for a Virginia Tech alumnus, no matter that it wasn't an easy story to report.
Frankie Gunnell Jr. (communication '05), a photojournalist with WCNC in Charlotte, N.C., won a Mid-South regional spot news Emmy for his part in producing "Ripped Apart," the story of a woman whose trailer was destroyed by a tornado in Lincoln County, N.C. Gunnell shot all the video for the piece and also conducted several of the interviews. After reporter Richard DeVayne wrote the story, Gunnell edited the piece.
Gunnell and DeVayne had gone out to cover the tornado damage when they found a trailer owned by Sarah Tarry that had been destroyed. Tarry had stayed safely with a sister, but Gunnell and DeVayne were there when Tarry arrived back home.
"When she got out of the car, she was already crying. Then the Tarrys were nice enough to let us hang around during this horrible time for their family," says Gunnell, recalling that, as he walked, he had to step around their pictures and clothes. "I really felt bad for her."
Gunnell graduated from Dan River High School in Ringgold, Va. "I've always loved sports, and I wanted to do something around sports," says Gunnell, who idolized Roanoke, Va., former sports director Mike Stevens and eventually worked with him as an intern.
At Tech, he was elected general manager of the university television station in addition to his sports director duties. "I just got eaten up with it," Gunnell says. "I had to sacrifice a lot of things that a lot of college kids did."