Behind his charismatic anchor persona on CBS46, Rick Folbaum has earned his true grit wings by covering many seminal events that shaped our culture. Folbaum grew up in Cherry Hill, N.J., where his interest in journalism started.
He said, “The news was always on in my house, and I loved the excitement of a breaking news story…the reporters, showing up at the scene, interviewing the police chief or the mayor. While most of my friends stayed up past their bedtime to watch ‘The Tonight Show,’ I’d stay up watching “Nightline” with Ted Koppel. He was so smart, and I loved how he’d make guests squirm with tough questions. When I found out he’d gone to the Newhouse School for Journalism at Syracuse University [Currently Syracuse University Newshouse School of Communications], I made it my goal to go there where I majored in broadcast journalism.”
His journey to Atlanta was circuitous, after 20 years in New York, and five in Miami, he settled in Atlanta to raise a family. He freelanced at CNN in 2018 and started at CBS46 in 2019. Now divorced, he is co-parenting five children. His impressive body of work includes coverage of both attacks on the World Trade Center (1993 and 2001).
He recalled, “I was sent downtown right after the first tower was struck on 9/11. The second tower was hit while my crew and I were driving down the West Side Highway. I pulled over about a block away, began our reporting on the burning buildings; then ran for our lives when the South Tower fell. It’s the closest I’ve come to reporting from a war zone.”
He also spent two years as a foreign correspondent based in London and working out of the Jerusalem Bureau. He said, “I experienced Israel in a way that was very different from my North American Federation for Temple Youth tour at 15.”
He’s covered climate change in Alaska, peace talks in Northern Ireland, the Pope’s trip to Cuba, John McCain’s nominating convention in Minnesota and the mass shootings in Orlando and Parkland, Fla. He stated, “I pray I’ve covered my last shooting, but I know that’s not the case.”
Read on to hear directly from Folbaum:
Glad you moved to Atlanta?
Folbaum: It’s everything we hoped and more. My kids go to great public schools. We love Temple Sinai. There are opportunities to volunteer, to really be part of a community and be immersed in a city that has led the way nationally in civil rights and racial equality.
Describe raising five children.
Folbaum: Remember spinning all those plates on the old Ed Sullivan Show? Just when you get one spinning perfectly, you’ve got to run over to keep another one from crashing. Our kids are amazing. Our oldest is a high school senior…which is CRAZY. We also have a sophomore. Our seventh-grade twins have their B’nei Mitzvah next April. We have a third grader, too. They are smart, kind and loving which is really all you can hope for.
Any work-related antisemitism?
Folbaum: No, and I have never shied away from talking about my Judaism. One year, all the anchors taped Christmas greetings and I talked about my family celebrating Hanukkah.
How do you compare working behind the desk versus on the scene?
Folbaum: I’ve been lucky that I’ve worked for people who have let me travel to big news events, to anchor my newscasts live from the scene. Being there makes all the difference. But I enjoy anchoring from the studio as well, guiding our viewers through the big stories of the day. Helping people make sense of our complicated world.
Something funny about you…
Folbaum: I was Danny Zuko in my high school production of “Grease.” Decades later, I went back to my old school and won “Cherry Hill West Dancing with the Stars.”
Folbaum: I covered South Florida’s Holocaust survivor community (third largest in the country) profiling survivors, how they embraced a post-war life of joy, love and generosity after the horror they experienced. I try to think of them every time I feel down. If those survivors can smile and laugh, so can I.
- Marcia Caller Jaffe
- Rick Folbaum
- Cherry Hill
- The Tonight Show
- Ted Koppel
- Newhouse School for Journalism
- World Trade Center
- West Side Highway
- Jerusalem Bureau
- North American Federation for Temple Youth
- John McCain
- Northern Ireland
- Ronald and Judy Cohen Facility Improvement Fund at Temple Sinai
- Ed Sullivan Show
- Danny Zuko
- Temple Sinai