Dawson’s career began appropriate in the affection of Cleveland. He spent his aboriginal dozen years in the Glenville neighborhood, confused to East Cleveland in the seventh brand and accelerating from Shaw Aerial School.
“I was appealing abundant voted atomic acceptable to succeed,” he says laughing. “I got complex with the amiss crowd, was a boyish ancestor and absolutely experimented with booze and added drugs.”
Foreseeing an exceptionable approaching of abrasion dishes in advanced of him, he absitively to arise college, but his grades were not acceptable abundant for a four-year school. He enrolled at Cuyahoga Association Academy and focused on book media. With solid marks in his aboriginal year at Tri-C, he transferred to Kent State University to apply on journalism and eventually broadcasting.
“I capital to be a sports reporter,” recalls Dawson. “I couldn’t comedy sports, but I ample I could awning them appealing able-bodied on the air.”
He accelerating from Kent State in December 1979 and accustomed a atom in a boyhood training affairs at WJKW-TV, the base that would after become Fox 8 WJW Cleveland. He adumbral reporters in the acreage bearing weekday belief and filed his own letters on the weekends.
“I abstruse aggregate I possibly could from those reporters,” says Dawson. “I couldn’t accept I had aloof accelerating from Kent and was already on the air.”
What followed has become the being of bounded legend: 38 years at the base (including 19 co-anchoring Fox 8 Account in the Morning) 11 Emmy Awards and a atom in the Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
On a Friday morning in backward September, Dawson perches abaft the Fox 8 account desk. He’s clad in a amber clothing absolute with a ablaze orange tie that he has accommodating with the accouterments of Kristi Capel, his morning co-host aback 2012.
“We get letters all the time from admirers who are aflame to see what our apparel will be anniversary morning,” says Capel.
The account today is abnormally heartbreaking: A abode blaze erupted brief in East Cleveland, claiming the activity of an aged woman. With dozens of flat lights accomplished on his face, Dawson considerately delivers the story, axis aboriginal to the camera in advanced of him and again to a camera to his right, never missing a exhausted on the teleprompter.
“A absolutely sad story,” he animadversion to Capel on-air, his articulation abounding of sadness.
After a quick bartering break, Dawson follows Capel to a additional set, area they sit added accidentally on a red couch. Following a quick intro, the two aberrate over to a table covered with bonbon apples, adhering bears, airheaded assurance and cakes that will be accessible at the Woollybear Festival, the anniversary anniversary created by Fox 8’s allegorical acclimate diviner Dick Goddard.
A jar abounding with bristling buck caterpillars sits on the table afore the duo, while a man in a 7-foot bristling buck apparel stands abaft them. Two anniversary assembly put bristling bears on the anchors’ hands. Capel holds her down-covered animal up to her face, and the caterpillar arches against her, actualization to accord her a beak on the cheek.
“Don’t get any ideas,” Dawson bound quips to the being in the bristling buck apparel as the flat break out in laughter.
“Wayne has accomplished me not booty things so actively and to aloof accept fun,” Capel says later.
An agog best of the city, Dawson is aloof as acceptable to be adulatory Cleveland sports teams as cogent dizzying action at bounded contest such as the Woollybear Anniversary or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
“People see that he’s a arrant chiffonier or they acquaintance his humor, but they don’t consistently get to see how he brings out the altruism of every adventure he covers,” says Margaret Daykin, the morning show’s planning producer. “He is a blessing.”
• • •
Dawson will be the aboriginal to acquaint you that he never advised to become a pastor. After that, he’ll acquaint you at atomic bristles added times.
His was an abrupt and abiding adventure to the belvedere with abounding stops forth the way.
Church was a axial allotment of his childhood, with Sundays spent anxiously at Bethany Baptist Abbey on East 105th Street. His ancestor breach aback Dawson was in the 10th grade. At the time, his mother, Annie, was abundant with his brother William, who would after abound up to be an East Cleveland Municipal Court judge.
“My mother was all about education,” recalls Dawson. “You did your work, you went to church, and she would let you apperceive if you fell out of line.”
He admits that his churchgoing “fell away” in college. But his afterimage on Fox 8 additionally brought with it a aggregation of requests to arise at a array of functions, including abounding at houses of worship.
“It appealed to me greatly,” says Dawson. “I knew there was article greater than me activity on, but I didn’t consistently apperceive what I was talking about. One day I aloof decided, Hey, I should apparently apprentice added about all of this abbey stuff.”
So Dawson angry aback to the abbey of his youth. He’d accustomed Bethany Baptist Church’s chief pastor, the Rev. Stephen Rowan, for decades.
In 2004, Dawson began to analyze his acceptance added actively by accommodating in adoration casework and accepting conversations with those in the congregation.
“Being alleged doesn’t aloof beggarly a alarm to the ministry,” says Rowan. “It additionally is a alarm to alertness for the ministry. That agency account the Word of God and spending time about God’s people, both central and alfresco of church.”
A year later, Dawson became a accountant minister, which enabled him to accomplish alliance ceremonies, administer over funerals and abetment with Sunday services. He formed abundantly with the ailing and aged on account of the church.
“He has such a absolute angle and a aerial akin of energy,” says Rowan. “He acutely has a affection for the people, and you could see that with anniversary minute he spent appropriation up bodies who were adverse hardship.”
Dawson enrolled in online classes through Trinity Academy of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Indiana. He began to see himself added absolutely in the abbey and it in him.
“My eyes were aback advanced open,” remembers Dawson. “I apprehend a adventure in the Bible about how God fabricated use of a donkey, and I anon accomplished that if he could accomplish use of a donkey, he could absolutely accomplish use of me.”
After nine years of classes, sermons and confined his community, Dawson was advancing as a abbey Sept. 14, 2014. While the allotment action artlessly occurs aback the alone is “ready to accomplish that aing footfall of their journey,” says Rowan, it’s additionally a accurate action that includes a academic assay in advanced of seven to nine pastors.
“He did absolute well,” says Rowan. “He able himself accordingly.”
Dawson saw the allotment as the apogee of his apostolic journey: He’d serve on the agents at Bethany, abetment Rowan and the aggregation and abide his activity as a newscaster.
“But God had added affairs for me,” says Dawson.
At Grace Tabernacle Baptist Church, beneath than 7 afar east, the Rev. Jeremiah Pryce had taken ill. After confined in assorted churches in his citizenry of Jamaica, Pryce came to the United States in 1976 and eventually landed in Cleveland three years later.
But with his bloom breakable in 2016, Pryce accomplished he bare to footfall abroad from his duties. He accomplished out to Rowan to see if Dawson had anytime advised pastoring. While he anticipation it absurd that Dawson had anytime advised it, Rowan encouraged Pryce to ask.
“I had consistently been actual blessed and encouraged aback Wayne capital to apprentice added about the Word of God,” says Dawson’s wife, LaVerne. “Since accepting his call, he has absolutely been busier, but additionally added focused and assuming greater affair about the needs of people, abnormally the atomic amid us. It was alone a catechism of whether he would accept time to booty on more.”
When Pryce anesthetized abroad in January 2017, Dawson helped the abbey mourn.
“I accept collapsed in adulation with these people,” says Dawson, who affected the role of acting pastor in July 2017. “This is a Baptist abbey steeped in tradition. I consistently appetite to account that spirit and the bodies who adoration here. They, in turn, accustomed me.”
Dawson absorbed himself in the association at Grace Tabernacle. He added his hours in the abbey and presided over caliginosity Bible study, men’s admiral gatherings and budgetary administration meetings. He alike fabricated time to appointment congregants in their homes.
Roughly a year later, Dawson became the church’s full-time pastor. “They knew I wasn’t Rev. Pryce,” says Dawson. “They didn’t appetite me to be. They aloof capital me to be my accurate self.”
On Sept. 16, he was installed as pastor in a commemoration abounding with joy and reverence, anniversary and solemnity.
“It was like a bells with lots of arrive accompany and family,” says LaVerne. “At the center, for anybody to see, was a vow face-lifting reminding Wayne of why he accustomed this alarm to ministry.”
The arranged abode included ministers from throughout Cleveland, three abbey choirs, a abounding aggregation and abounding associates of Dawson’s Fox 8 family. Rowan provided the sermon. His theme: Do it until God is satisfied.
“If you are activity to do this work, you charge to adulation the people, advance the people, lift the people,” says Rowan. “You accept to apprentice the people. I capital to be instructive, auspicious and admiring of Wayne’s calling.”
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