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Whatever happened to WECT-TV reporter Ben McDonald?

Amanda Lisk

In 2009, WECT-TV celebrated its 55th anniversary and published an article about the occasion on its website.

The story takes a trip down memory lane back to 1954 when WECT (then called WMFD) made history by becoming the very first television station in the Wilmington area.

Ben McDonald and Wayne Jackson were mentioned in the article as two of WECT’s first employees, hosting the morning show and reporting. Today, after 57 years of staff and talent changes, no one at WECT could answer “where in the world is Ben McDonald?,” except to say he married Ruth Davis, a former New Hanover High School teacher.

Wayne Jackson, who worked at WECT for 35 years and is now retired, said McDonald passed away several years ago, but he does not know where McDonald went or what he was doing after he left WECT sometime in the 1960s.

A May 12, 1974, article in The Robesonian said McDonald was returning to WECT as host of the “Carolina in the Morning” show.

When McDonald left WECT in 1965 he started a public relations department for what was to become the Bank of North Carolina, M.A. McDonald retired from the bank in 1973 after serving as vice president and special assistant to the president, and marketing officer.

After his retirement from the bank, McDonald wrote columns for more than a dozen newspapers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. He owned BRAMAC Enterprises, a public relations consulting agency for banks, and served as executive director of the Pleasure Island Tourist Bureau.

If you have more information about McDonald, please leave click on the link below to leave comments.

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5 Responses to “ Whatever happened to WECT-TV reporter Ben McDonald?”

  1. On November 8, 2011 at 8:29 am Bill Barwick wrote:

    I remember Mr. Macdonald used to hawk BMF(Ben Macdonald’s Formula), a hair restoration cream.

  2. On November 8, 2011 at 11:04 am Lisa Cohen wrote:

    I checked the NHC Register of Deeds online public search and Ben and Ruth McDonald had a daughter, Mary Anita McDonald. The search also revealed that Mary Anita McDonald married John Allan Acton. There is a Whitepages.com listing for John A Acton and Anita M Acton in Raleigh. The age listed would also be correct, so it is likely his daughter. I’m sure she could tell you more about her father. I hope this helps you find more information about him! He certainly sounded like an interesting guy!!

  3. On November 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm Frankie Raymer wrote:

    I enjoyed the article on the 55th anniversary of WECT. My happenstance reading of it is a result of a mention in My Reporter; it provided a pleasant trip down nostalgia row. Born in Wilmington in the 1940s, I can recall when everyone knew everyone. You just needed to connect the dots. Doors were not locked because a neighbor may need to borrow something. The use of ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma’am’ were commonplace. This continued until the Port City began experiencing the cultural after-shock of the 1980s growth explosion.

    I do not know what happened to him, but I remember Ben McDonald on the local TV news. If memory serves correctly, he had a signature closing line to viewers “…a tip of my old and battered homburg, good night”. During the 1950s and early ‘60s men’s attire was accessorized with a hat. The “homburg” referred to a man’s felt hat with an upturned brim and a lengthwise crease in the crown. McDonald had a daughter, Anita, she and I were friendly acquaintances during my mid-school years.

    Anyone with long ties to Wilmington cannot help but remember watching Wayne Jackson on TV as well. After leaving television, he was on Congressman Charlie Rose’s staff. During this period of his career in the early ‘90s, I had the opportunity to become acquainted with him because we had adjacent offices in the downtown Post Office building. Wayne Jackson is a very nice man and is a fine representative of what Wilmington used to be.

    With continued reflection: As a youngster during the ‘50s, I remember the early days of WMFD-TV when it was located in the 200 block of Princess Street. At that time, television sets were not in every home. Our neighborhood children would gather in the afternoons at the home of one of the lucky kids with a TV. Back then television sets were black & white. The technology oriented set owner bought a multi-colored thin sheet of plastic, which when taped over the screen produced the miracle of COLOR.

    Frankie Raymer

  4. On November 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm David Colwell wrote:

    Ben McDonald, on his morning show, was the first reporter to bring public attention to safe driving with a weekly report of traffic fatalities. He called it the “Bloodshed Boxscore” and made references to the dangers of drunk driving, defensive driving practices, respecting the speed limit, etc. He was ahead of his time.

  5. On November 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm Stanley Outlaw wrote:

    Does anyone remember BMF? It was a product to make bald men’s hair grow. Don’t think it worked. BMF = Ben McDonald’s Formula

    One of his pet grips that you would her was about people that drove slow in the left lane of then 4 lane Oleander Drive. That still grips me.

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