By Michele Yowler
Wayne Dawson is co-anchor of FOX 8 "News in the Morning," which is seen weekdays from 5:30-9 am on WJW. In addition, Wayne is the host of "Neighborhood," a quarterly public affairs program. Prior to his current position, Wayne served as co-anchor of the weekend editions of FOX 8 news from 1994-99.
A six-time Emmy Award winner, Wayne is a member of the NAACP, the National Association of Black Journalists and the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. The Professional Women's Business Association has chosen him as the "Outstanding TV News Reporter". In both 1982 and 1985, Dawson was named one of the Jaycees' "Outstanding Young Men of America." Delta Sigma Theta has also named him "Man of the Year" and Wayne is a recent inductee into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, as of October 4, 2000.
Currently, Dawson is working on his masters in Theology, by completing a home correspondence course through Trinity Bible College in Indiana. About once a month, he speaks at numerous churches and public gatherings throughout the Cleveland area. "I find when I'm preparing my sermons, it helps me with my studies. If the church doesn't give me a topic then I'll just pick a topic out of what I am studying that week. It's a rewarding life," Dawson said.
Dawson's light-hearted nature makes him a joy to talk with. He is a down-to-earth individual who communicates a genuine love for the Word of God and his relationship with Jesus Christ; something he enjoys sharing with others. "It's amazing how far I've come in my spiritual walk in just the last three or four years. I'm not sure where it is going to lead me. Some people ask me if I'm going to be a pastor or an evangelist. I don't know. I know I'm being prepared for something but God hasn't revealed that to me yet; right now I think it's just to use the 20 years [of experience I have] in the business and the reputation I've gained to let people know I'm a Christian and just to be God's messenger," he explains. "When people ask me to speak, even at a school, at some point I'm going to work in my faith."
Wayne grew up in the church, attending Sunday school as a youth. However in high school, life became more challenging and he began to drift away from his relationship with God. "I believe God has had his hand on my life since the very beginning. I grew up in East Cleveland, a product of a single parent household." Dawson became a teenage father at eighteen. "I was on the road to destruction, but God kept his hand in my life. He was working in my life and I didn't even know it; He didn't let me go too far down the wrong road. It's amazing when I sit back and think about which way I could have gone or I look at friends of mine and I see which way they have gone and all I can do is thank the Lord." Life became a struggle for Wayne's mother during his last two years of high school and throughout this time she needed to rely on public assistance. This situation opened a door for him to attend college. Counting his blessings, Dawson stated: "It's funny how God works. Because she was on public assistance, I was able to go to college for free. Ordinarily I probably couldn't have gone because I couldn't afford it."
It wasn't until his mother passed away about four years ago that Dawson returned his focus onto his relationship with Jesus Christ. "I believe when the Lord takes something away, he always gives you something. What happened was, my mother died, then two years later my dad died and [I believe] that void was filled by the Holy Spirit." Dawson believes God used those negative events in his life to draw him back into a relationship with Him. "I always believed but I didn't live life like a Christian. I was very worldly, tremendously worldly; and because of that I didn't go to church, I had the basic beliefs but I didn't practice them."
When asked about his life as an anchor for FOX 8, Dawson said, "It's great to work here at channel 8 because I'm surrounded by Christians; it gives you a lot of strength to draw on." Before every show Dawson and his co-anchor, Stephanie Schaefer, pray; asking the Lord to work through them to be a blessing to their viewing audience. "First of all we thank God for the blessings that He has given us. He has blessed us so much; just to have this job is a blessing. And then we ask Him if He would allow us to be a blessing; let His Holy Spirit work through us so we can be a blessing to the people who tune us in. We want to be something pleasant to wake up to, instead of the morbid news that you always hear."
Dawson admits working in television can be a challenging career. "It is the type of business where you're here today and gone tomorrow. My talent is not any better than anybody else but I think God has blessed me. Just the blessing of being able to stay here for 20 years." Dawson stated: "I give praise to God because I've seen people come and go. We work under a contract. Every three years, every year, they have the option to say we don't want you anymore. But it's only by the grace of God that I'm here."
Wayne's attitude toward his job is to do the best he can and give God the glory and praise. "I just want individuals to know first of all that I'm a Christian and I want my life to reflect that. I don't want to do anything that would embarrass the faith. That is my goal when I wake up and when I do the morning show. Dawson believes he receives strength and peace when he gives God the credit for his success, and acknowledges his position as a Christian in the workplace. "Often times you talk to people at work and they are upset about the management and stuff like that, especially in this business; we've had a lot of different general managers and news directors. I've found a cure for that, the bottom line is I'm not working for the General Manager or News Director, I'm working to glorify God. As Christians we are supposed to be servants and respect authority."
Asked about the refining fire of God in his life, Dawson believes that working at channel 8 for many years and, at times, going through the disappointments of not getting the promotions that he thought he deserved, has been a time of refining for him. "It has let me know that God works on His own time and He doesn't give you anything unless you're ready for it; especially if you've given your life to Him. When you're ready for the blessing you'll get the blessing. Sometimes He withholds the blessing if you're not ready for it. I think that is what happened to me. Dawson believes doing the morning show is a tremendous blessing. With earnest frankness he thinks if he had this position five or six years ago he may not have been able to handle the temptations prevalent to his career. He believes his Lord only gives him what he can handle, and at that time the temptations could have been devastating to his marriage and family. "Because there's sometimes a lot of temptation when you're on television, as far as people wanting to meet you. Now that I have my relationship with the Lord right I'm better able to handle any temptation that comes my way." Dawson said, "I think I'm still being refined. I don't know when the next test is coming. I just want to be strong enough to deal with it. That's the key too; it's easy being a Christian when things are going right. But the test comes when things aren't going the way you want them to go and you have those tremendous trials and adversities [in which you have] to be able to stand strong. He is always refining us making us better and stronger. If we keep our hand in His, He'll bring us through the fire and we'll be stronger for it."
After the "News in the Morning" show, around 9:15, Dawson and several employees gather in the FOX 8 employee cafeteria for a Bible study and time of prayer. The invitation is open to all employees of the station to join the group. "It's just a really wonderful thing, we pray for the station, we pray for the management, we thank God for the many blessings that He has so graciously given us." Wayne believes this time of fellowship gives the day a nice beginning; "whatever comes your way you can handle it a little better when you get in touch with the creator."
This past October, Dawson was inducted into the Broadcaster's Hall of Fame. Asked about the honor Dawson said, "That was a wonderful day, it made me feel that everything I've done was worth something. I've been here 20 years. I've seen a lot of people inducted who hadn't been here as long as I've been here. It felt good to finally get that kind of recognition. It made me feel good that all the work I'd put in over the years was actually worth being recognized."
His plans for the year 2001 include joining co-worker, Bill Martin, and the Editor of the Connection Magazine, Jon Hanna, in a prison outreach ministry. Wayne is looking forward to visiting men who are incarcerated and trying to share the gospel with them. "I think that's basically what Christianity is all about, trying to help those who have lost their way. It reminds me of what Jesus taught in his parables; searching for that one person who lost their way, that one sheep who is lost; to me that is what the prison ministry is all about. Often times you find when people have hit rock bottom, that is when their eyes are open and they are receptive to receiving the good news about our Lord and Savior."
When speaking about his purpose Dawson said, "When I look back and see how the Lord has stayed with me through the things I've done, [I see that] He never forsook me. That is why I'm so happy now. I came from the inner city, East Cleveland, and all the negativity that surrounds kids today I had to deal with. But the Lord saw me through it.