Rag Man – Chris Wragge
The handsome and charming new co-anchor of “The Early Show” on CBS every weekday morning might look familiar. Before becoming one of the top national talents in broadcasting, Chris Wragge, or “Rags,” as he is known, parlayed an internship at WMUR-TV to an on-air sportscasting job at the station and from there his career sailed over the moon, collecting 10 coveted Emmys along the way.Wragge, a three-year letterman on the University of New Hampshire football team, has walked the red carpet reporting on the Emmys, Oscars and Grammys. He covered the Olympics, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, The Masters and almost every major breaking news story, from presidential elections to the Papal visit. On the personal side, he married supermodel, actress and former Playboy Playmate of the Year Victoria Silvstedt, whom he met on assignment for “Entertainment Tonight.”When you were an unpaid intern at Ch. 9 in 1992, could you imagine that by the time you were 40 you would have had the most coveted jobs in television? Obviously, I could never have imagined this. After I graduated from UNH, my parents said, “Don’t come home. Stay up there and try to make your career happen.” So I moved into my college roommate’s parents’ basement in Manchester. It was below ground and adorned with these game animal heads, and it was pitch black. I would work very late and then come home and hang my sport coats over the boars’ heads because they scared the hell out of me.What incentive did you use at Ch. 9 to convince people to stay late and help you make audition tapes to land that next-step-up job?I did a lot of them on my own because I didn’t want to force anyone. The great thing about ‘MUR is that they allowed me to do so many different things, from editing to writing to audition anchoring. That enabled me from the moment I got out of school to be there six or seven days a week, and I made myself accessible to anyone and everyone if they needed help. I even helped Jack Heath, who was the news director at the time, move into his new home. I made him pay me off in gift certificates to George’s clothing store because I needed suits to build a wardrobe so I could look like I knew what I was doing. I was working for free and started when I was still in college, but I wasn’t getting any college credit for it. I was driving to and from Durham and was there all of the time. Finally, the general manager asked, “Who is this guy and why are we not paying him? He’s going to sue us.” So that’s how I got my first contract.You worked with local sportscasting legends Mark Ockerbloom, Charlie Sherman and Frank Mallicoat. Do you keep in touch?We have a reunion every summer at Foxwoods and play golf for a weekend. Mark and Charlie were in my wedding party and are some of my best friends. Frank is one of my closest friends and I recently helped him get a new job at the CBS station in San Franciso and we talk two or three times per week. I remain in touch with many others who worked there, too. That station has been the one shop of all where I’ve worked that I’ve stayed close with so many people and made such good friends.How many passes did you catch for the Wildcats?(laughs) Enough that my jersey is framed and hanging on my office wall. I’m not giving out any numbers (laughs). This is what the school had labeled me: the best blocking wide receiver in the history of UNH. I didn’t need to catch passes. I made my mark in other ways.”When you went back to UNH and covered football games with the Ch.9 sports crew, did you still have a pre-game ritual? We would do breakfast at Young’s Diner right on Main Street. It was a whole different set of butterflies, which was nice. I was more comfortable with them than the butterflies I had as a player. It’s literally a whole different ball game. I still get those butterflies before I go on the air until this day.You’ve covered the biggest breaking events in news, sports and entertainment. Now that you’re on the anchor desk, do you miss the action out in the field?At CBS, they do allow me to get out. Recently, I was on the ground in Joplin, Mo., for three days covering the tornado devastation. I’ve been an anchor in New York for the last six or seven years and was out all of the time. When flight #1549 landed in the Hudson River, I was there. I’ve always prided myself on being able to do a better job out in the field than on the desk. CBS prides itself on letting their anchors get out there. They don’t want us to just sit and broadcast from a chair.At every level, your colleagues have praised you for being an extreme workaholic. How do you take a step back and relax?So many people tell me I have got to relax, but that is not my nature. I realize that things are not always going to be this great. I approach it as every broadcast could potentially be my last, so why not make a great effort every single day? Ultimately, we are judged on a day-to-day basis. No matter what kind of contract you have, this business is literally day by day.You’re a huge New York Giants fan and a terrific golfer. What’s your next dream job – wide receiver for the New York Giants or player on the PGA Tour?(laughs) I want to scale that back to good golfer. Before I came to CBS, I was a fantastic golfer. But if I could do it all over again, I would be the quarterback for the New York Giants. Phil Simms was my idol growing up and Eli Manning is my idol now. It’s not that I don’t love what I’m doing, but now we’re talking the dream job.Will we see you back in New Hampshire for the presidential primary coverage?I truly hope so, and am actively lobbying for that. I really love New Hampshire and have not been back enough. When I was there, it was one of the best times of my life.