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It’s easy to find Rick Williams during the week, just tune in to 6ABC’s Action News at noon or 5 pm. If you are looking for him on the weekend, try Main Street in Moorestown.

Most likely, the popular news anchor will be “grabbing a slice” at the local pizza joint with his 10-year-old son Nicholas and his wife Jocelyn. “The weekends are all about family,” says Rick, 51. “I spend the weekend with my son getting pizza or going to the movies or whatever we come up with because one of these days, he won’t want to be my weekend buddy. I have to take advantage of him wanting to spend all his free time with me while I can.”

Rick Williams and his son Nicholas at home

Rick Williams and his son Nicholas at home

Longtime SJ residents, the Williams family chose to live here because of what Rick calls the “family vibe.” Hanging out around SJ lets the family do their thing, which is simply being together. Rick’s wife Jocelyn is a physician at Cooper University Hospital and the recently appointed associate dean for multi-cultural and community affairs at the new Cooper Medical School of Rowan University. Joceyln’s new position marries her love of education and medicine.

“At this point, Jocelyn is putting in a lot of hours, but she is very excited to be a part of the new medical school,” Rick says. “My wife and I have demanding jobs, so when we’re not working, we just want to have fun.”

One local opportunity the Williams trio has embraced to spend time with each other and make some seriously cool memories is through the Moorestown Theater Company. The MTC has a simple rule for its main stage production: if a child under the age of 12 wants to be in the show, an adult family member must be in the cast too. This has led Rick, Jocelyn and Nicholas to appear together in several ensemble casts.

“A few years ago, we saw the company’s production of ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and my son wanted to be a part of it,” Rick explains. The news anchor has fond memories of participating in high school theatre productions, so he was game. “We all decided to give it a try, and we have been in several productions.”

Rick and Nicholas are preparing for this month’s production of “Footloose,” which runs July 19th through July 28th.

“I don’t have a lead part this time around, which is nice because I don’t have to attend every rehearsal,” Rick says. “But I do have to dance!” Due to her work schedule, Jocelyn is sitting out this production but hopes to be in the audience every night.

“We have all been in a few plays together, and there is nothing like it,” Rick says. “We feel indebted to the Moorestown Theater Company, because it is just good family time.” Williams feels so passionate about the importance of the nonprofit that he even joined the organization’s Board and will chair its annual fund-raising gala this October. The Williams family has appeared in “The King and I,” “Guys and Dolls,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

Rick as Lumiere in MTC’s production of “Beauty and the Beast”

Rick as Lumiere in MTC’s production of “Beauty and the Beast”

“I know from my line of work that being comfortable speaking in front of people is an invaluable skill,” Rick says. “I am glad my son has exposure to that opportunity. I think it really helps a person’s confidence when they get the chance to be on the stage, doing live theater.”

To say that Rick has experience talking in front of people is an understatement. The White Plains, New York native graduated from Howard University with a degree in broadcast journalism and then spent time “being a nomad” working at different news stations around the country. Before coming to Philadelphia, he worked as a reporter at WRAL-TV in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, at WOWK-TV in Huntington, West Virginia and at WUSA in Washington, DC.

Williams landed in Philadelphia in 1988 and has stayed at 6ABC ever since. He has covered local and national news, often reporting on breaking news with very little lead-time. He believes the most exciting story he has ever covered was the 2008 presidential election.

“I covered election night in November 2008 from Chicago,” Rick says. “I was there at the big rally for the Obama campaign and I remember the numbers were coming in. As the returns were being shown on the big screens and it began to become apparent that Obama was going to win and become our next president, I just remember thinking I was seeing history in the making. I can still remember the chills I had. I called my son and said, ‘I hope you are watching this. I don’t care if you are watching me reporting this, but I hope you are watching this.’ I don’t think he grasped the gravity of what was happening. And it’s not just because I am an African-American. I knew I was witnessing American history in the making.”

Williams explains that it is not only the “big” stories, like the 2008 election, that make his job exciting, it is also the local heroes he discovers. “I always love interviewing people who are doing great things like changing lives or influencing people,” he says. “For example, I might report on how a wheelchair is stolen, and then people in the community come forward to donate all of these wheelchairs. It is encouraging.”

What’s next for Williams? After his summer stint on the MTC stage, he’s looking forward to the upcoming presidential election ramp-up. “This year I am hoping to cover one of the conventions, either Republican or Democratic, which will be a first for me,” he says. “Journalistically speaking, that will be an exciting place to be.”

When he is not covering a story, Williams will simply enjoy time with his family. “I recognize that I am a very fortunate person,” he says. “I am very blessed, and I am pretty content where I am right now socially, spiritually and professionally. I recognize that I am in a good place right now, and I just want to enjoy it.”

July 2012
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