ROCKINGHAM – As the Richmond Observer has already made history with starting the first ever live nightly news program in the county, it announced at its grand opening Thursday several more programming initiatives aimed at delivering the news Richmond County deserves.
The celebration of the RO’s official grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony took place at its downtown office and studio, located at 505 Rockingham Road. In what can be described as a “who’s who” crowd of some of Richmond County’s most notable constituents, coupled with advertisers and subscribers, approximately 60 community members attended the Thursday’s event.
Presented by the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, membership director Seth Allen brought a large red ribbon that was cut by co-owners Lance Jenkins and C. Kenneth Melvin to signify the company’s official start. They were joined by managing editor Kyle Pillar, executive producer Russell Parker, chief operating officer SarahBeth Jenkins and multiple on-air personalities and contributors.
“The Richmond Observer started out by planning it in my living room,” Melvin noted at the podium. “Lance and I think a lot alike. We wanted to deliver better news, more local news. There have been many long hours in the newsroom and studio. We are thankful for the people in Richmond County.”
In conjunction with its flagship nightly news program “Live At 5”, the RO announced that two new programs will hit the airwaves in the coming months.
First, starting on the first Thursday of November, a new weekly sports program will air. Titled “The RO Sports Show,” it will be a roundtable television production that will feature expert analysis on local, college and professional sports, as well as host in-studio guests. Jenkins and Pillar will anchor the show, and will also include a rotating cast of Parker, contributor Matt Harrelson and Ellerbe Town Council member Jeremy McKenzie.
The biggest announcement of the afternoon came when Jenkins informed those in attendance, as well as those watching via a Facebook Live stream, that beginning Jan. 1, 2018, the RO will debut a live, daily morning radio show called “Good Morning Sandhills.”
Aimed to broaden the RO’s reach in the region, Good Morning Sandhills will air each weekday from 6 to 8 a.m., with Jenkins and radio veteran Sierra McQueen on the mics. The FM-frequency show will be live each morning, and will be able to be streamed via several radio apps on cell phones.
The radio show will feature live calls from listeners, in-studio guests, all with the purpose of giving people in the Sandhills a professional, local and quality listening experience.
Several guest speakers were on hand for the event. Pastor Ronnie McLean of Freedom Baptist Church opened with prayer. Allen and Chuck Cobb, both of the Chamber of Commerce, spoke and welcomed the RO as a Chamber member. Tri-City, Inc.’s COO and chairman of the Board of County Commissioners Kenneth Robinette was slated to speak, but was unable to due to a family emergency. But the RO noted its appreciation for all of his support.
Steve Morris, who is the mayor of the City of Rockingham also addressed the crowd, expressing his thoughts on the RO and the city’s partnership.
“Local government is the closest form of government,” Morris said. “And it’s important that media reports what we are doing and planning (like the RO is doing).”
Jenkins also thanked the RO’s sponsors, advertisers, editing staff and contributors.
“We are proud to deliver quality news every day to Richmond county through our newsroom and the first nightly news of Richmond County,” Jenkins said referring to Live at 5. “I would like to thank all of our advertisers for their support, as well as our managing editor Kyle Pillar, who makes everything in the newsroom run.
“Also, I want to thank our executive Russell Parker, and Kelsey Rushing for their efforts on Live at 5,” Jenkins continued. “I also have to thank my wife SarahBeth, who was a major contributor in getting our location and studio ready.”
The RO has officially named its filming studio the “Richmond Studio” to express its gratitude to the local businesses and readers who have supported the project since its launch on July 1, 2017.
One of the largest sponsors of the RO is Richmond Community College. Dr. Dale McInnis, president of RCC was in attendance and expressed his enjoyment of Live at 5.
“It’s been a great tool to get the right information to the right people at the right time,” McInnis said. “It is great to have local folks getting local news that is relevant to us in a timely (manner). And it couldn’t come at a better time for us. We are proud to partner the College with the Observer.”
One recurring theme on the afternoon was the emphasis on “local” news. Bobbie Sue Ormsby, who is a Richmond County School Board Member, spoke of the RO’s ability to deliver accurate, detailed news.
“What I like about it is that (the RO) gives you details and not just a synopsis,” Ormsby said. “And I like that. It is very thorough. I love the fact that it’s local; I know that I can just click on that website and I will know what is happening”.
Jenkins also informed the audience that the official RO app, which is available for free in the Apple and Google Play stores, has been overhauled.
“Our app has been overhauled, and are now at 11,000 downloads,” Jenkins noted. “Today it will look like a newspaper. You can watch “Live at 5” or any of our programming on demand on the app at any time.
“An e-edition that you can read on a Kindle is also coming this quarter,” Jenkins continued. “Live at 5 and the Richmond Observer website have been a great success. In a 24-hour period, we are averaging five to six thousand total views.”
To access the RO’s local news, sports, weather and lifestyle articles, visit its website at www.richmondobserver.com, or its Facebook page “Richmond Observer.” To make contact with the newsroom or leave a tip for a story, call (910) 817-3169. Catch Live at 5 every week night on the website and Facebook.