Over the last four-and-a-half years, I’ve written thousands of stories for WKRG.com.
It’s bittersweet to write this one, knowing it will be my very last.
Back in 2014, I had the interesting task of informing my New York family and friends that I had accepted a television job in Mobile, Alabama.
As you’d expect, their most common reaction was, “where on Earth is Mobile, Alabama?”
Fast forward to present day, if I’m ever asked where the happiest days of my life have been thus far, I’d get out a map, and point directly to the Gulf Coast.
“It’s the true, authentic, original home of Mardi Gras, and sorry to say, New Orleans is just an imitation,” is what I’d tell them.
In these last several years, the Gulf Coast — more specifically, the wonderful people who call this beautiful region home — has embraced me, almost as if I had lived here all along. The Gulf Coast lifestyle I have come to love has made such a lasting impression that I’ll always think of it as the home away from my new home.
Southern hospitality is no myth. I’ll sorely miss how friendly and sincere folks can be here, and how they would greet me with the biggest smile after recognizing me from television. As I’ve discovered, just doing my job (which to me, is just being my tech-obsessed, geeky self) brings joy to people, and that feeling is soulfully rewarding beyond explanation.
It’s even flattering when people would hilariously scream in public, “WE LOVE YOU CHAD PETRI!”
(Just for the record one last time before I leave, Chad and I great friends, but we are, in fact, two different people.)
I haven’t lived everywhere. Far from it actually, but I truly believe the Gulf Coast is home to some of the most genuinely kind people on Earth.
And for that love and warmth, I thank you.
For me personally, it’s sad, and equally thrilling, to say that my fiancé and I are moving to her hometown of Tampa, Florida.
Many of you might know my fiancé. She is none other than Devan Coffaro of Mobile’s Fox-affiliated television station.
I know, I know, I’m a pretty lucky guy! As I’ve playfully told friends, it was “love at first live shot.”
Falling in love with the competition, well, is a tricky game, full of “is this really happening?”-type moments. Imagine trying to deliver a live report at the scene of breaking news knowing that the competing reporter standing ten feet away is the same woman you’ll be raiding the refrigerator with in a few hours.
And believe me, just like breaking news, we break for that refrigerator in the same manner, competing for the best plate of leftovers.
Now, we break for Tampa, Florida, to be closer to family and to plan our wedding.
However, I couldn’t leave without saying, from both Devan and myself, thank you Gulf Coast. From the bottom of our hearts, please, never change.
And believe me, you’ll be seeing us for Mardi Gras.