By Faye Gaston
When folks in Bullock County see the Santa Fe Hyundai SUV vehicle with WSFA on the side, they know that Bryan Henry is reporting on something "big." He is a roving reporter with WSFA-TV for 25 years. His title is "multi-media journalist."
He conducts interviews, takes photos, narrates the story, edits it, writes it on his laptop in the vehicle, and sends it to WSFA. Each interview is four stories shown on TV at 4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 10:00 p.m., and then the written version is sent to the WSFA website. He covers about 15 counties in Alabama and will do two or three different stories on any given day. He does some interviews by phone due to the "beauty of technology."
His office is the SUV vehicle. He is responsible for its maintenance, even flat tires.
His most memorable and saddest story he has covered in Union Springs was the young person found hanged, either by suicide or murder. He says God gives him the "gift of composure." At the end of the day, sleep is slow to come because he "decompresses" but gets very little opportunity to sleep while covering a hurricane.
The best part of his job is meeting people, even under tragic circumstances. He enjoys the job's freedom with the traveling, but must have self-discipline in time management to meet deadlines. He feels a tremendous responsibility to stick to the facts.
At age 57, he is a veteran reporter, still going strong after 34 years in his profession. He said, "I love what I do. I am living my dream. I am grateful to God for the lessons learned through painful challenges. God has seen me through difficult times.
We have to accept what life is. Life is a gift. God has given us free will. Bad decisions hurt people. We should treat people with kindness and lift them up. Each of us will have crosses to bear (challenges). We learn to embrace them to gain the peace that passes understanding. Don't be afraid to grow from these experiences."
His faith as a Roman Catholic has a significant role in his life. He said, "You can't inherit salvation." He was "saved" around age ten when he chose to believe in Jesus. He gets on his knees by his bed every morning and evening to pray. He prays for protection from harm, to do a good job, and to be fair. He thanks God for his family and lessons learned through his career and asks God to continue to mold him. He also prays before each story he puts together.
Journalism is in his genes. His father, John R. Henry, was a World War II correspondent for INS (International News Service) covering the Pacific Theatre. He was the first wire service reporter to interview the pilot who dropped the atomic bomb over Japan from Enola Gay plane.
His mother was a White House correspondent under President Eisenhower. She met John R. Henry, worked for him, and married him. Walter Cronkite was a competitor to his father, but they became friends to the extent that Cronkite included him in his autobiography.
Bryan Henry was born and raised in Columbus, Mississippi. In his freshman year of college at Mississippi University for Women, at age 19, he wanted to become a nurse. He said, "God intervened" when he filled in for a DJ on a radio station to spin records and give weather reports for six hours. It was discovered he had a "good voice" that would earn him a livelihood. He then had a summer job at a TV station, and was graduated from college in 1986. His professional career began as a TV news reporter with a CBS affiliate in Monroe, Louisiana, on to Baton Rouge, then Mobile, Alabama; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Montgomery, Alabama.
He now lives in Prattville, Alabama, with his wife, DiDi, of 31 years and their 17-year-old daughter, Laura Grace.
This week, Bryan Henry covers stories of a shooting in Union Springs, and the heroic actions of a local policeman who tried to save a baby who had COVID-19.