LIVE: Watch 5pm news on WHNT News 19
  • Follow me on:

Jerry Hayes is in his 38th year at WHNT News 19. He joined WHNT News 19 in March of 1979.

Jerry was born in Nashville, Tennessee. While working on his college degree at Middle Tennessee State University, he landed an internship at WTVF, the CBS affiliate in Nashville. After graduation, Jerry was hired as chief videotape editor in the News Department. In the fall of 1978, he moved to Huntsville. He was hired by WHNT as a reporter, but within a couple of weeks began producing and anchoring the weekend newscasts. After working as 10 o’clock co-anchor and then noon anchor, Jerry was moved to the 6 and 10 main anchor spot in November of 1983. After the tornadoes of April 27, 2011, he began anchoring a new newscast at 6:30 pm. In the fall of 2016, he wanted a change from anchoring the late newscast for more than 30 years. He now co-anchors the 5 and 6:30 newscasts weeknight with Melissa Riopka.

Jerry has literally been around the world gathering stories for WHNT NEWS 19. He’s reported from the White House and brought stories home from as far away as St. Petersburg, Russia. He’s interviewed celebrities like Mark Hamill and Carol Burnett. But some of his favorite memories are of interviewing and getting to know the boys in the band from Fort Payne. Jerry was the first television reporter to interview members of the group Alabama. Jerry loves country music. After all, he’s from Nashville. And in 2008 and 2010, Jerry was invited to be a guest announcer during a live portion of the Grand Ole Opry! He was thrilled to be a part of the radio show that he listened to with his great grandfather on Saturday nights.

Jerry’s been honored with numerous awards during his journalistic career. He’s a seven time Emmy nominee and two time winner! In 2010, he was inducted by the Nashville/Midsouth Chapter into the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle. Inductees are honored for their contributions to the television industry for 25 years or more in broadcasting.

Jerry was recognized with the Associated Press Television Award for Best News Anchor in Alabama in 2005, 2006 and 2015. And the Alabama Broadcasters Association presented Jerry its Abby award for News Anchor of the Year in 2008, 2011 and 2013. In 2012, he also won an Abby award for a feature story called “A Father’s Love”. Jerry was also honored with a Region 12 Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Sports Reporting in 2013.

When Jerry’s not working, he loves spending time with family. That’s especially true now that he is a grandfather! He loves to fish, kayak, play golf and watch his Tennessee Titans! If you ever run into Jerry, say hello. He loves meeting the people who watch WHNT News 19. You can also email him at

Recent Articles
  • Big Spring Cafe moving down the road on Governors

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – One of Huntsville’s oldest businesses is making a move. Big Spring Café closed last weekend. The last full day was Friday, March 10th. It’ll open again this week in a different location. The sound of traffic is always busy on Governors Drive But inside Big Spring Café, the noise is drowned out by the sizzling sound of greasy burgers frying on the grill. The sound of “I need 6 cheeseburgers and 4 hamburgers” can be heard as staff […]

  • Huntsville artist creates piece for Limestone Co. courthouse

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Limestone County courthouse has been standing proudly at the center of downtown Athens for almost 100 years. A piece of stained glass art now hangs inside the historic structure. And it was created and made in Huntsville. Julie Gill is an artist. But unlike someone who paints on canvas, her palette is limited. “I can’t take a little bit of white and a little bit of red and make exactly the pink I want,” she told me […]

  • Art helps mother and daughter deal with their own grief

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – Losing a family member, a loved one, or a close friend can be more than some people know how to handle. That’s where places like The Healing Place in Muscle Shoals come in. It’s a center for grieving children and families. Upstairs, Athens artist Lynn Weatherford and her daughter Gracey mix paints so they can get to work. “I think I’m going to do grays and purple,” Gracey says. They’re working on a mural in the new […]

  • WHNT News 19’s Jerry Hayes shares his cancer story

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Seven months ago, I started a journey to live healthy. I had two goals: to lose weight and to exercise more. I’ve met both, but three months ago, my journey hit a roadblock. It was a major life changing detour. Nobody wants to spend their evening at the emergency room. But in early December, that’s where I wound up on a Sunday night. Dr. Kathryn Cox was on duty. “You had a couple of lab abnormalities that were […]

  • An open letter from Jerry Hayes: “It was cancer, but I’m going to be okay”

    I’m going to be okay. And I want you to hear that from me first so there’s no doubt about what’s ahead. Many of you have been following me on my healthy journey to losing weight, eating better and exercising. Some of you also noticed that I was off for about three weeks during December and January. I wasn’t ready to explain what was going on but the cat is getting out of the bag, so to speak. So, after […]

  • Burn victim now inspiring others in the classroom and community

    RAINSVILLE, Ala. – 20 years ago this weekend, a DeKalb County boy was fighting for his life. Most would say that it’s a miracle Zach Mitchell is alive. To understand how he got to where he is now, you need to know what happened February 25th, 1997. Life is a journey. “We were burning leaves and I made a mistake,” Zach recently told me. That mistake almost cost him his life when he was 10 years old. “I really didn’t […]

  • Some thoughts on Zach Mitchell’s accident 20 years ago

    RAINSVILLE, Ala. – This weekend marks the 20th anniversary of a heartbreaking tragedy that some of you may remember. A young boy was burned after pouring gasoline on a pile of burning leaves. It’s a story that some of us will never forget, especially me.  I remember the night of 10-year-old Zach Mitchell’s accident like it was yesterday. After being burned over most of his body, we were all hoping and praying for the best but fearing the worst. Doctors […]

  • Love and music fill the air at flash mob proposal

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Who doesn’t love a good surprise? We were there for one at the Westin Huntsville at Bridge Street Town Centre. And, it was one to last a lifetime. After a quiet dinner at the hotel, Austin Clark and his girlfriend Irene Martorell Crespo took a stroll through the hotel courtyard. We were hiding behind a bush with our cameras so they wouldn’t see us. As creepy as that sounds, there’s a good reason. More on that in […]

  • Southerland Station closing after 58 years in business

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – After 58 years serving customers across the Tennessee Valley, a Huntsville business is closing. Southerland Station has become a piece of Huntsville’s history. Southerland Station survived for almost six decades because the owners kept reinventing the business. It evolved from blueprints to toys, art supplies and trains. Nikki Skidmore told us, “I grew up in it. It was dad’s before I came along.” She now owns it with her husband. They took over for her father who bought […]

  • Giving the past new life for the future

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Some people look at old barns that are falling down as an eyesore. One Madison county couple sees them as a way to take the past into the future. On Jeff Road in Toney, you can hear the sound of nature, birds chirping. A few hundred yards away, you can hear the sound of something old being made new again. Inside a workshop behind their home, Kelly and Amy Dawkins-Falter and their son, Darrick Dawkins, are busy […]

  • Huntsville Havoc’s Stuart Stefan loves wearing pink and blue

    HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Huntsville Havoc hockey players are known to drop the gloves from time to time and fight on the ice. But on Melissa George night, they’re all fighting for a different reason. Stuart Stefan wears number 7 for the Havoc. He’s been with the team for six seasons now and has proudly worn a special pink and blue jersey for five years on Melissa’s night. It’s one of his favorite games of the season. He smiled and said, […]

  • Shoals couple raising money to fight disease

    MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. – A Shoals couple is hoping this will be a better year than what their family had in 2016. And thanks to many of you, their situation is already looking up. When we first met the Davenport family last September, they’d just found out why their 3-year-old son Kruz wasn’t growing as quickly as other kids his age. His mother Jessica explained, “Schimke Immune-Oseeous Dysplasia. It’s a really rare form of dwarfism.” It can cause kidney failure, […]