Desmond Wingard delivers news to Lowndes County and beyond

Published 12:56 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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Desmond Wingard, news director at WSFA, grew up between Lowndes and Butler counties. As a young man, he always knew he wanted a career in broadcast journalism and now he is living that dream, making sure area residents receive the news they need in an accurate and timely manner.

Wingard joined the NBC affiliate’s news team as a junior at Troy University, working first as a weekend photo editor, the morning producer and evening producer before transitioning to assistant news director and finally taking the reins as news director in July 2022.

“I’ve been here 23 years,” Wingard said. “I love it. We have a great team. It’s very nice to have grown up watching this station and now helping lead the station. Everyone I’m tasked with managing I either helped get them hired here or have hired them since I took over, so it’s been a good fit.”

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Wingard graduated from Lowndes Academy in 1997 and earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Troy in December 2000. From his earliest recollection, he said he always loved watching the news and wanted to work in broadcast media at Channel 12.

“I always knew this is what I wanted to do,” Wingard said. “My mom used to joke with other people because other kids get home from school and watch cartoons. I always insisted that we watch WSFA, especially the 6:00 p.m. news with Bob Howell. I would recite the newscast opening and was obsessed with every bit of it.”

Longtime WSFA news anchor Bob Howell first met Wingard when the young broadcast journalist was running the student television operation at Troy University. Howell said he recognized Wingard’s dedication and resourcefulness.

“After being around Des and watching his interaction with the other students, I realized he was dedicated to his job just like he was being paid big bucks to keep tabs on the other kids in the program at Troy,” Howell said.

Wingard said he never considered another news station. For him, the only choice was always WSFA.

“Honestly it was always WSFA,” Wingard said. “I never knew for sure if I would get hired here but I always knew I wanted to be in the news. At the time, I thought it would be really cool to be an anchor, but I quickly realized in college that while I did enjoy anchoring in college, it was behind the scenes that was better suited for me.”

Howell noticed that as an intern with WSFA, Wingard required little supervision in the day-to-day television operation and was a quick study for the position.

“In fact, he was a very quick study,” Howell said. “I can remember observing Des when he did tasks that should have been handled by full-time reporters and producers, not interns like Des. He was a natural.”

Linda Williams, Wingard’s English and Spanish teacher at Lowndes Academy said she is not surprised by his success.

“He’s a great guy and was an even better student,” Williams said. “He might not have had all A’s but he was a hard-working student. He always did more than what was expected of him and was a conscientious person.”

Howell said as the channel’s news anchor, he appreciated Wingard’s professionalism and willingness to help others whenever needed.

“I’m thankful to have  had the opportunity to work with Des and many of his young counterparts in the news biz. Des is a real pro and I’m grateful to have worked with him at Channel 12.”

As part of the station, which supplies news to Lowndes County, Wingard said he enjoys being the first to let people know what is happening.

“I would say I’m a little bit nosy and I like finding out what’s going on first,” Wingard said. “I love being the first to tell people what’s happening in their area and in their community. I still get the jitters whenever I break something first.

“We have to cover a lot of tough things. But on the other side of the coin, I can’t tell you the number of times people call or email and say, ‘Thank you guys so much for what you do, staying up all night covering whatever weather situation is happening and keeping people safe.’ So many people say if it wasn’t for us, our weather team, telling them to take cover, they would have potentially lost their life.”