Blair Miller's Friday exclusive with Mayor Anthony Foxx came as the result of cultivating a long-term relationship, the WSOC anchor says.
At the top of Friday's 6 a.m. newscast, Miller's taped interview aired in which the mayor said he would not seek another term in office.
"Foxx and I have gotten close over the last year or so and developed a good relationship," says Miller, who joined Channel 9 in 2002 and moved up to the high-profile job on the evening anchor desk with Erica Bryant in 2010.
|Blair Miller in the Channel 9 newsroom.|
Just last week, Miller texted Foxx that he was interested in doing an interview on the mayor's future. Foxx's name has been floated for a possible position as U.S. secretary of transportation.
"I knew we were coming to a point where something was going to happen -- either he was going to decide to run again or go to D.C. or do nothing," says Miller.
Then Wednesday, Miller got a call from one of Foxx's aides. They asked him to be at the government center at 10 p.m. Thursday. Miller figured it would be about Foxx's future and thought he would announce plans to run again.
Instead, Foxx told him he was planning to do the opposite.
"First thing I said to him is, 'Are you serious?' We have a good joking relationship."
Foxx handed him a copy of the statement he planned to release Friday. Then they negotiated an embargo on airing the interview for 6 a.m. Friday so Foxx could share his plans with staff members beforehand.
Miller was curious why Foxx had picked him for the announcement. He asked an aide after the interview.
"How did this go down? I didn't want to be the one the next morning calling and asking why I didn't get picked," says Miller, describing what turned out to be the scene in virtually every newsroom in town by 6:10 a.m.
Miller says he believes that aides encouraged Foxx to do one interview rather than just issuing a statement, and Foxx chose him because of their rapport.
More of Miller's interview with Foxx will air on WSOC's 5 and 6 p.m. newscasts Friday. They will discuss Foxx's thoughts on a future political career and how his family was a big part of the decision not to run again.
From his perspective, Miller says, he thinks Foxx has a good relationship with the local media. During the DNC, he remembers Foxx walking around doing a circuit of network interviews, then taking time to talk to local reporters as well.
"He wasn't just doing the big dogs. That spoke volumes to me. This isn't like him to do just one big exclusive interview."