By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
Emery King knows how to create and tell a compelling story. His experience includes 35 years of journalism in network television that has engendered the highest level of credibility, locally and nationwide.
Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, King began at radio station WJOB in Hammond in 1970 as a news reporter. A 1965 graduate of Roosevelt High School just as his siblings were, King went on to work for two years at radio station WWCA in Gary, for 10 months reporting the news and hosting the popular radio show “Sound Off.” From there he went on to station WBBM News Radio 78 as a reporter covering Chicago’s Mayor Richard Daley at City Hall for three years.
It was from there that in 1980 his radio career took him to Washington, D.C. where he began his renown career as an assigned White House correspondent for the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. He traveled the world with the president writing stories on his first term and then on the road chronicling his 1984 re-election campaign. King also reported from the Pentagon, State Department, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
King traveled around the world riding on Air Force One covering news in Europe, Asia, China, Brazil, as well as Germany along with other correspondents. King said, “It was a very interesting time during my career and the highlight of it.”
After his time covering the president ended, he was then assigned to cover the First Lady Nancy Reagan on her foreign trips. He said, “She was very kind and gracious during the time I spent with her. As far as personal coverage of President Reagan – especially during the time he suffered from Alzheimer’s, I met with him on several policies but was objective in the reporting about his administration.”
When the movie “The Butler” was being produced, he had the opportunity to return to the White House for a luncheon in honor of all the White House Butlers and was invited to sit next to the actor playing the role of President Reagan. King said, “It was an honor for the Butler Staff to remember me. Those gentlemen were the best.”
In 1986, King had a successful career at WDIV-TV in Detroit as the communications director for the Detroit Medical Center (DMC). There he and Kingberry Productions created an award-winning online medical library, ranked among the top and most viewed online medical libraries to date. Its focus was on doctors, advanced surgical procedures and life-changing patient outcome stories, which in turn have increased the hospital system’s brand awareness and web presence nationally and worldwide.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing also tapped the former NBC White House correspondent on a temporary basis to assist with public relations efforts needed during a communication crisis to enhance the city’s administration and its public image.
This summer King decided to leave Kingberry Productions to decide what he wanted to do next. He said, “My choices are to stay in health care production or I don’t know. I’m figuring it out as I go.”
His wife, Jacqueline, is encouraging him to write his memoirs. He said, “I might sit down and see what comes out. It has been troubling over the years because of the diversity in the news. Not many Blacks have elevated to the position both in front and behind the camera. Now there are more like Lester Holt who was the first Black appointed to that position after Brian Williams. Holt still has a long way to go. Holt is sitting there because Williams messed up. Networks are run by anybody but us for the most part.”
Kings opinion of the upcoming election characterizes the Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump as a disgrace. “He is not fit to be president. It has been a sad day since he has become a candidate. Hillary Clinton will be good for the country and I value her leadership. President Obama will go down in history as the greatest president in the United States. People will miss and recognize his greatness. As president he has showed us the depth of racism in this country. We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go.”
King says he comes to Gary at least every four to six weeks to see his father, Emery Sr. and the rest of the family. He said, “I don’t spend enough time in Gary as I should to be a mentor to young people there. We are a blessed family. Our father just celebrated his 100th birthday. We are proud that he helped to build Roosevelt High School because he was a carpenter and is still a member of the union today.” Emery Sr. has been a union member for the past 80 years.
Of course Gary’s celebrated connection to President Ronald Reagan is that the late U.S. Representative Katie Beatrice Hall from Indiana became the author and sponsor of a bill to make Dr. Martin Luther King Day a national holiday. As a credit to Hall’s negotiating ability, The King Bill was passed in the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, before being signed into law November 2, 1983 by President Ronald Reagan in a Rose Garden ceremony attended by Coretta Scott King and Katie Hall. The first national observation was in 1986.