CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - After being “On Your Side” for nearly 30 years, Sports Director and anchor Delano “D-Man” Little is saying goodbye to WBTV.
Roosevelt Delano Little joined WBTV in 1989 after spending two years as a news reporter and sports anchor at WJCL TV 22 in Savannah, Georgia. Very quickly, the Charlotte area began to recognize the gift they had been given.
Little’s passion for both sports and broadcasting set him apart from the competition for the entirety of his career in the Queen City. His compassion, caring, and altogether likability would set him in a class of his own to anyone lucky enough to meet him.
Anchor Molly Grantham, who has worked with Little for years - specifically on WBTV News at 11 p.m. - describes him as everyone’s best friend.
“Delano is like the Mayor of WBTV. He knows everyone in the building and is best friends with half of us. If he’s reading this right now, he’s probably smiling because he knows it’s true that he’s wholly beloved. Inside this building we are going to miss him greatly, but I believe the City of Charlotte will as well. His sportscasts have always been one of the most entertaining parts of every show because of his high-energy and verve."
Little served as host of the number one rated high school football show in Charlotte, Football Friday Night, for 28 years. He was the first host of ‘Panther Game Day’ and the ‘Dom Capers show,’ and was co-anchor of WBTV News on Bounce for nearly five years alongside anchor Brigida Mack.
“Working alongside Delano every night for the nearly five years we anchored WBTV News on Bounce has been one of the greatest joys of my career. We had such a good time – and made a million memories!" said Mack of her co-anchor.
Little covered the pivotal sports stories of the Charlotte area including the establishment of the Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Bobcats, two Super Bowls, multiple NCAA Championships, the Charlotte Knights' move to uptown Charlotte, and the Charlotte Hornets NBA playoff games.
Aside from being a daily staple in local households and go-to for the latest sports news, Little did tremendous good for the community as a whole.
He founded the One Nation Foundation, which provided $1,000 scholarships to 16 deserving high school students. He’s lent his support to dozens of community and charitable organizations, including the United Negro College Fund, Habitat for Humanity, Metrolina Food Bank, the American Red Cross and the Susan G. Komen Foundation - just to name just a few.
He also participated many charity events with Dancing With The Stars of Charlotte, showing off his impressive dancing skills. Those skills were often on display at the WBTV Studios - even during commercial breaks - and were sometimes infectious.
That impromptu dancing happened during a commercial break on WBTV News on Bounce TV. Producer Amanda Bazemore had the pleasure of working with Little on the newscast every weeknight at 8 p.m.
“If you ever had the pleasure of watching our 8 p.m. show on Bounce, you knew every night Delano was going to say or do something that would have you in knee-slapping laughter. From touching a shark to wearing high heels for an important cause, Delano was truly a champion of almost everything I asked him to do for a segment."
Mack describes working with Delano as one of the “greatest joys” in her career.
"We had great chemistry and viewers clearly loved it. I’m also particularly proud of how we served the Charlotte region as the first all-black anchor team. We heard time and again from viewers of color about how much they enjoyed seeing us each night and what that kind of representation meant to the community.”
Mack said Little’s sharp sense of style is unmatched in the building and his quick wit and humor add to the whole package.
“He’s genuinely one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet," said Mack. "As sad as I am to see him leave WBTV, I’m thrilled for what’s next for him.”
That next chapter will dip into the local food and music scene.
WBTV’s news partners at the Charlotte Observer wrote up a article on Little’s next venture.
Little is partnering with and local father, son team to open The Public House and the Middle C Jazz Room.
Delano will partner with Larry Farber and his son Adam Farber, who have long been involved in the local music scene, and act as the go-between for the restaurant and the club.
Little didn’t make his retirement plans public at first. He said he thought his mother would take it harder than anyone.
“My mother, she was the one person I kind of felt would get emotional about me leaving TV, because I had been in it for so long. I called her to tell her - it was soon after the death of my father, so it was one blow after another. I thought it would be another blow for her to know I was leaving TV,” Little said. “Her first words were, ‘well you had a good run.’ And I’m like, ‘OK, that puts it in perspective. I had a good run.’ And I was able to do a great run.”
Little’s last day at WBTV was Dec. 14, and he won’t be leaving alone. Longtime anchor WBTV veteran Paul Cameron is leaving on the same day.
“Delano and I have been symbolically joined at the hip ever since he joined WBTV - brothers together chronicling how major league sports defined and changed Charlotte from the late 80s until now,” Cameron said. “He took over the helm from me in 1996 and has now served as WBTV’s longest serving Sports Director. He has performed admirably as Charlotte’s premier sportscaster. WBTV viewers will sorely miss his friendly and knowledgeable nightly appearances.”
Reporter and weekend sports anchor Ashley Stroehlein co-hosted Football Friday Night with Little. She says it’ll be impossible to find someone to fill his shoes.
“I don’t even know where to start when it comes to talking about Delano retiring,” Stroehlein said. “No one will ever be able to take his place or fill his shoes! He is leaving behind an amazing legacy and will be greatly missed!”
WBTV Research Director Shelly Hill, who has worked with Little for 18 years, described him as a “consummate professional with a positive attitude I admire so much."
“He is a true team-player, always mentoring new members of his department as well as new interns each year. An internship with Delano Little was a coveted position!" said Hill. “More than the sports education I received from Delano, he taught me a lot about character… always taking the high-road in every situation. I am fortunate to have worked with Delano for almost two-decades, but even more proud of the friendship we’ve cultivated over the years.”
Director Ross Sontheimer said he will miss Little and Cameron as well.
“We are all very lucky to have talent like Delano and Paul both for 30 plus years at this station. I don’t think people realize or appreciate how special that is. Will always be missed, but never forgotten,” Sontheimer said.
“We are very proud of the major contributions that both Paul and Delano have made to WBTV and the greater Charlotte area," said WBTV News and Content Director Dennis Milligan. "Both are leaders in the community and the television news industry. We wish them the very best in the next chapter of their lives.”
At the end of Paul and Delano’s last broadcast, current and former employees surprised them by walking onto the set before they signed off for the last time. You can watch that below.
Both Delano and Paul will be missed by the entire community, throughout the Carolinas, and most of all by their family here at WBTV.