Mike Royer has interviewed celebrities and politicians, including President Bill Clinton, but he says he’s learned the most from people you’ve never heard of – people he interviewed through “The Spirit of Alabama,” a weekly broadcast he produced for 20 years and now assists University of Alabama students in producing. During Alabama Media Professionals’ June 13 meeting at Homewood Public Library, Royer spoke about his 40-year career in television and about his current work as managing editor at WVUA23, the University of Alabama owned and operated television station.
“The Spirit of Alabama” is a newscast highlighting, in Royer’s words, “good people doing good things.” Royer started the series at WVTM-TV Channel 13 and brought it with him to WVUA, one of only two colleges in the nation to produce daily newscasts. He said the show is an excellent training ground for student broadcasters. “Anyone can write about a fire or a murder,” Royer said. “I want them to learn how to write a good feature story first.”
On the surface, one might question whether some topics covered by “The Spirit of Alabama” could even be made into stories, Royer said. His response is: “Absolutely. Everyone has a story.”
Royer said he learned the importance of sacrificial giving from an elderly woman who walked the streets of Columbiana every day, picking up cans she donated to pay for the youth operations at a church. From a man who was dying of cancer, he was introduced to the idea of moving from success to significance. And a Birmingham ophthalmologist taught him we all have the same prognosis.
“I wouldn’t take anything for meeting the three people I talked about,” Royer said. “And I’ve had 25 years of that. I want the students who produce ‘Spirit of Alabama’ now to meet and be inspired by people like I was.”
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