SPOTLIGHT: Clay Johnson on a film shoot at a winery in western North Carolina. Johnson produces about 12 segments a year for UNC-TV shows, many of them highlighting events and places in eastern North Carolina.

Archived Story

Bath producer highlights eastern NC

Published 11:08pm Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Maybe one day he’ll write a screenplay or perhaps just take many pictures while he travels around the world.
But right now, Clay Johnson does his traveling instate, logging interviews, editing scripts and producing news documentaries for WRAL in Raleigh — his full-time job — and tourism/human interest segments for UNC-TV’s “North
Carolina Now” and “North Carolina Weekend.”
There are sometimes, though, that Johnson doesn’t have to travel at all — he’s got all he needs right here.
“There’s been no shortage of stories to do in eastern North Carolina and the Washington/Beaufort County area,” Johnson said. “Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I do a lot of my work from home.”
Originally from Atlanta, with a long career in broadcast journalism that took him to South Carolina, then North Carolina, Johnson and his wife Debra Torrence started visiting Bath in the late 1990s — rather, they visited their sailboat docked at the Bath Harbor Marina. The couple would come for weekends, Johnson said, but when the opportunity arose to buy a house, some peace and quiet and a creek view down the street, they took it and made Bath their permanent home in 2009.
“Now that we live in the area, I want to promote it, and this is one way I can do that,” Johnson explained.
Johnson’s segments for UNC-TV read like a list of “What to Do in Beaufort County:” Goose Creek State Park, the East Caroline Wildlife Arts Festival, Paddling Beaufort County, Inner Banks Outfitters, Carolina Wind Yachting Center, Southside Farms, Little Washington Sailing Club and Inner Banks Artisans’ Center are among the many listings.
Johnson described “North Carolina Now” as a tourism-related show — its primary mission to highlight events and beautiful places — but capturing the true personality of place is a bit trickier than simply rolling the camera.
“Doing TV, it’s about telling a story with visuals and kind of weaving together the written word, other peoples’ voices and creating a story that other people get something from,” Johnson explained.
In short, a visual storyteller.
“I’m very fortunate to be able do work that I love,” Johnson said. “I can’t imagine a point in my life not doing it.”
Johnson’s segment on the White Post Solar Farm near Bath will air at 7:30 p.m. Monday on “North Carolina Now;” his piece on the Washington restaurant On the Waterfront will air at 9 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, then repeat Feb. 8 at 8:30 p.m. and Feb. 9 at 10 a.m.

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