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WRAL Voters Choice Awards Makes Quick Pivot to Totally Virtual Event, Live Stream This Thurday


The WRAL Voters Choice Awards has now shifted to complete online due to the rising cases of COVID in our area. The decision was difficult for the VCA team, but the crew quickly leapt into action to adapt ceremony, set for this Thursday, January 13, 2022, at 7pm.

We made the decision to pivot from in-person to online Sunday morning and were able to do that in a little over 24 hours, said WRAL Digital Director of Marketing Laura Worthington. That is a testament to our event partners being flexible and responsive. We had discussed this possibility all along, but of course, planning, an in-person event is intensive and required all of our focus until the call was made to switch gears.

The WRAL Digital team changed gears on a dime and is now looking forward to announcing and celebrating the winners via livestream.

Gratefully, our on-site event team, hosts, sponsors, venue, catering and decor partner all understood our concerns, said Worthington. I was able to touch base with all of them between Sunday and Monday mornings to let them know we needed to shift to online due to rising COVID cases in the community.

The 2019 VCAs took place in Union Station in downtown Raleigh, honoring winners in a big ceremony in January 2020, only weeks before the pandemic shutdown. Last years winners were announced in a virtual ceremony.

A sold out crowd fills Union in Station in downtown Raleigh for the Voters' Choice Awards Celebration on Thursday, January 9, 2020.

The demand from the audience side was huge after being virtual last year too and we had been sold out for nearly a month, she said. In fact, I was still getting requests for tickets Monday afternoon just before we were able to communicate the change publicly. So that is a positive reminder that we have developed something the community really wants to be a part of.

The WRAL Voters Choice Awards may not be in-person, but the excitement is just as real for the announcement of the winners for 2021. Bill Leslie and Sloane Heffernan will host the livestreaming event.

We're basically blowing up the plan we had for the venue and shifting into a studio downtown, explained Worthington. We'll go from a team of folks that would have been needed for in-person down to a small crew. The main thing that will change for our hosts is where they are parking and the fact that there is no in-person audience.

There are multiple ways to watch the 2021 WRAL Voters Choice Awards: Stream will appear at the top of the homepage. Click/tap to watch. If you dont see it there, visit

WRAL News app (iOS | Android) Tap Video in the bottom navigation, and pull down to refresh the app.

WRAL streaming channels Watch on your TV using our channel on Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV or Android TV.

Sign up now to get a reminder about the live stream and updates on the WRAL Voters Choice Awards. Use #WRALvcas on social media to share your celebrations on Jan. 13.

WRAL Digital's Shelby Lloyd toasts the start of the livestream for the WRAL Voters' Choice Awards on Thursday, January 14, 2021.

For better or for worse, Worthington and her team have become adept at quick changes, making the best of being online only and pulling off a celebratory, interactive event no matter the venue.

This will be the fourth virtual awards event we've produced, so it's familiar now, she said. We are not starting completely from scratch.

If conditions allow, Worthington and her team hope to have a celebratory event in the spring where winners can claim their certificates. Regardless, they are already planning to return to in-person in 2023 and have already booked a date with the venue.

The 2021 WRAL Voters Choice Awards will take place on Thursday, January 13, 2022, beginning at 7pm, via live stream.
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