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VIProfile: Abby Ham

By Gay Lyons

Abby Ham, co-anchor of “10 News Today” on WBIR along with Heather Waliga, who replaced Ham’s long-time co-anchor Russell Biven, is not a native, but she has lived in Knoxville longer than she’s lived anywhere else.

“My roots are in Atlanta, but I lived all over because my dad worked in sales,” she said. “My parents moved to Knoxville in 2001 because they wanted to be back in the southeast. Everyone assumes they followed me here, but they were here first. I used to come visit, and I just loved it.”

After graduating from the University of Arizona with a degree in print journalism, she took her first job in Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she said she was evening anchor, producer, reporter and editor and wrote her own newscasts. She came here in 2006 to be weekend anchor and reporter and moved to mornings after three months. After a year and a half, she took a job at a company-owned station in Columbus, Ohio.

“It was a big market and a big opportunity,” she said. “In 2009, I returned to Knoxville and took my old job back in the 5:30-7:00 am slot. In 2010, we added the 4:30 am hour, and in 2011, we added ‘This Morning’ on Fox 43 News from 7-9 am.”

If you’re doing the arithmetic, she’s now the co-anchor of 4.5 hours of news every morning Monday-Friday.

“It’s a lot,” she said.”Morning is a beast, but I love it. I think it’s such an interesting role to play in the community. People are waking up with you, so you want to ease them in and make them smile, but you also have to talk about tough news stories.”

“We want them to have a good time,” she continued, “but we want to get them out the door with everything they need to know.”

The daily schedule of a morning show anchor is not for everyone. “To do a morning show, you have to be very regimented, which I’m not,” said Ham. “I wake up at 3 am and try to go to bed by 8:30 or 9:00 pm. I try to get six hours of sleep a night. If I get less than that, I’m ‘delicate.’ In other words, ‘don’t mess with me.’ I get everything ready the night before. The next morning I’m up, brush teeth, get coffee and I’m out.”

“I do my own hair and makeup and wear my own clothes,” she said. “I get asked about my hair and makeup more than any news story I’ve ever done. I don’t mind. I’m always happy to help with tricks and tips.”

Ham has three children: Owen, age 10; Hatcher, age 7 and Robbie, age 1. “I leave work, and that is where the real work begins,” she said. “Our lives are crazy. We’re running from schools to sports to friends to birthday parties. It’s not boring!”

She and husband Travis May got married in 2019. “He was a bachelor living this glorious life in Atlanta,” she said. “Then he entered my crazy world. He stepped right in and has been an amazing stepparent to my boys and an amazing father to our daughter.

We’re cut from the same cloth. We love all the same things.”

“I love connecting with the community,” she said. “The people in this town have been so kind to me over the years, and I love repaying that kindness. I’m really involved with Habitat for Humanity, Imagination Library and Friends of Tennessee’s Babies with Special Needs. I really like to help, but it’s hard to have the time.”

“It’s a constant struggle between being a working woman and getting stuff done and having fun,” she continued. “Every day I want something to look forward to. It’s like a puzzle every day, and we’re just trying to put the pieces together.”

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