WTVY Television in Dothan is mourning the sudden loss of its news director, a man who workers said went out of his way to invest in their lives.
Jeff Raker, who most recently served as the station’s news director, collapsed while at work Friday morning. He was taken to Flowers Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Raker returned to WTVY in April of 2012 to take the news director position. He previously worked for the station from 1997-99 in the same capacity. He also worked in similar capacities at stations in Youngstown, Ohio; Jefferson City, Mo., and Sioux City, Iowa.
Tributes to Raker were posted Monday on several of WTVY’s current and former employees’ Facebook pages. He was remembered as a man devoted to his family and passionate about his work.
“In my 20 years of knowing Jeff, many of them working with him, I found him to be the consummate professional,” WTVY news anchor Reginald Jones said in response to a request from the Dothan Eagle.
“He’s largely responsible for me being in Dothan, having hired me to help re-define WTVY’s news product in 1997,” Jones said. “He was a great newsroom leader and mentor to young broadcast journalists. He loved this industry and more importantly, loved his wife and two children and he cherished friendships. The TV news business has suffered a great loss.”
“He loved WTVY, and he loved the Wiregrass,” WTVY news anchor Tessa Darlington said. “Jeff genuinely cared about his staff, the product we put out for our viewers and trying to help this community. Our hearts are broken, and we are suffering a terrible loss. We ask everyone to please pray for his wonderful wife and children.”
WTVY General Manager Mike Smith said in a statement to employees that Raker played a major role with the station.
“I know he was proud of the work being done here and was excited to be a part of the growth of this station. We will miss him and we will do our best to continue to make him proud,” Smith said.
Arrangements are pending.