Local Winston-Salem Difference Makers: Michelle Butt

In addition to celebrating Winston-Salem natives that have moved on to do significant things outside of Winston, this blog will also celebrate local people who make a difference currently in Winston-Salem. 

In early 2015, Michelle Butt was named president and general manager of WXII-TV, the NBC affiliate serving the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point, N.C. television market. She returned to Winston after spending time as the news director at WXII from March of 2000 until September of 2003.

Michelle left Winston with her family (Richard-husband, Jackson-son, Peyton-daughter) to run the newsroom at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland in September of 2003.  Michelle ran two newsrooms there; the first was the TV newsroom at WBAL-TV and then she added the WBAL-AM (news/talk/sports station) to her duties in 2012. When she left Baltimore, Michelle had nearly the same number of direct reports as she does now at WXII.

Richard continues to work for KCI, a full-service engineering firm he worked for in Baltimore. Peyton (or Peanut as the family still calls her) is a freshman and a new Pi Phi at Auburn in Alabama.

My family has a special relationship with Jackson. My mom was his speech therapist for three years at Jefferson Elementary. I also worked in his classroom for two years just after I graduated college. I spent a lot of time at their house with Peyton and Jackson in the early 2000’s. Even at a young age you could tell that Peyton was going to be an excellent little sister to her very special brother. Jackson is one of the few people in the world that it is impossible for anybody not to like.

This is how I remember Jackson and Peyton, when I worked with them in the early 2000’s.

Winston-Salem Questions:

Which Winston-Salem streets have you lived on?
We first lived on Fox Hall Drive, then we moved just up the street to Green Valley Road, which is right off of Robinhood. This time, we are living on Fox Lake Court in Greenbrier Farms.

What are some of the reasons that you were excited to come back to Winston-Salem for a second time?
It’s a wonderfully easy place to live and at this natural transition time in our lives, it was a good fit. We also love being back at Wake Forest so often;  even though Richard is the only alumnus, it holds a special place in all of our hearts. And finally, good, good folks and a burgeoning and tasty food scene.

What different Winston-Salem schools did Jackson go to?
Jackson attended Old Town Elementary for one semester of Pre-K. He attended Jefferson Elementary starting in kindergarten. He went to Beck’s Baptist Church for after-school and summer care and loved both. He just started at ABC of NC in February and is loving it.


Who were some of Jackson’s favorite teachers in Winston-Salem?
Your mom (Barbara Callahan) was his absolute favorite the first time around.  Barbara was very important to Jackson and remains very special to all of us.  Richard and I always thought a lot of Jefferson principal Nora Baker.  The principal sets tempo for a school and we loved Jefferson. I’m not sure if Jackson has a favorite at ABC yet, but so far, everyone has made him feel welcome.

What are your favorite restaurants in Winston? What about Jackson’s favorites?
We all love The Honey Pot and Mozelle’s, both on 4th for a night out. The bar at River Birch Lodge is a family fave when we want a quick, quality bite. And I can’t forget Little Richards! I love to take job candidates and corporate visitors to Mary’s Diner to show off our quirckiness!
Jackson has a thing for the Fried Chicken and gravy at Mama Zoe Michael’s.  It’s where we head after church on Sundays.

Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?

Thruway.  It has a little of everything.

If you were on a stranded island and could just have one breakfast for the rest of your life, which would you choose: Moravian Sugar Cake, Bojangles Biscuits, or Krispy Kreme Doughnuts?
While all three are heavenly, I’ve been a Krispy Kreme girl my whole life!  Nothing like a hot, glazed. Selling them helped pay for my summer cheerleading camps so KKD has a special place in my heart.

What are some of Jackson’s favorite places to go in Winston-Salem?
Jackson loves Old Salem; he enjoys a Saturday morning at the farmer’s market and a pastry from Camino and then walking around the village and college. And it doesn’t matter if it’s an on-campus game (like Field Hockey) or Grove Stadium or the Joel, Jackson loves Wake Forest athletics and time on campus.

 What is your favorite North Carolina Beach? Does Jackson have a favorite thing to do at the beach?
We are all partial to the Outer Banks; Kitty Hawk is our favorite beach.  It is the family’s “happy place”! Jackson is a big body surfer. He is in the water from the time we get to the beach in the morning until we leave at dinner time.


Where is your favorite place to visit in the mountains of North Carolina?
We’ve not spent as much time in the mountains as we should have; the beach is more of our place. However, Grandfather Mountain is one of my favorites; it was a family destination when I was a kid!

 Who is your favorite ACC Team?
Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Richard is a 1989 grad; I’m class of 1991 (the year we got married). We also pull for NC State, since Richard completed his Engineering degree there in 1996, when Jackson was a year old. I have a great picture of him in red overalls and white shirt at his dad’s graduation.

Local Winston-Salem Difference Makers:Bobby Muuss

Winston-Salem doesn’t offer a professional team, but we have the next best thing with Wake Forest being in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The men’s soccer program (Team Website) is the most exciting and most successful men’s program currently at Wake. Bobby Muuss, a Long Island, NY native, was hired as the head coach of the program in January of 2015. In just one year, Muuss has the program back on top as one of the most successful collegiate programs in the country.

In just his first year, Muuss was honored as the ACC Coach of the Year (he won the award three times at the University of Denver). Wake was the number one team in the nation (NCAA DI) in the Rating Index Percentage (RPI) throughout the year. The team won the ACC Atlantic Division and went into the NCAA National Tournament as the number one overall seed. The Demon Deacons made it to the NCAA Elite Eight, where they lost in a 2-1 overtime battle to the eventual national champions from Stanford. Muuss finished his first season as head coach at Wake with an impressive 17-3-2 overall record. (Team Facebook Page)


Along with the quality of soccer on the field, Wake also brings an excellent fan base. These fans aren’t just WFU students, but there is also a large contingent from the Winston-Salem community, including “The Congregation” supporters club. Spry Stadium was regularly jam packed with fans, and the Demon Deacons led the country in attendance. They broke single season and single game records for the program during the 2015 season.

The 2015 season wasn’t the first go-round for Muuss as a coach at Wake Forest. After a successful playing career at Southern Connecticut State, Muuss was a four year assistant at the University of Connecticut. UCONN won the national championship in 2000, his final season working there. In 2001, Muuss was hired by Jay Vidovich as an assistant at Wake, and it was his first time to Winston-Salem. During his seven years as an assistant for WFU, Muuss helped the team to the 2006 Final Four.

He was hired as the head coach at the University of Denver in 2007, where he would remain for the next eight seasons. Muuss took the Pioneers to the NCAA Championships four times during his stint there. During his coaching career, he has now coached thirty-six players that have gone on to play professionally, including three from this past year’s Major League Soccer draft. Jack Harrison (Wake) was selected as the number one overall draft pick by the New York City Football Club. Michael Gamble (Wake) was selected by the New England Revolution, and Jordan Schweitzer (Denver) was selected by the Seattle Sounders. (2015 Season Highlight Video)

As well as coaching in Denver, Muuss also met his wife, Melodie, a Denver native. Along with his ten-year-old daughter (Camryn), Muuss now has a seventeen month old (Blayklee) and they are expecting a new-born boy next month.


Winston-Salem Questions:

What is the number one thing you missed about Winston while you were in Denver?
The sense of community that you get here in Winston. My wife had never been here before, and it was eye opening to her to see our crowds at games. Everything I did here during my time as an assistant was based around Wake. I love how the community embraces the program. When you do something, no matter how selfless you are, it is important to be appreciated. I am fortunate to be a part of this program. In Denver, we had strong programs, but we weren’t really embraced as a soccer program there. With all of the professional teams and it being such a big city, you don’t get the same sort of community feel as here. I am excited to see the program continue to grow.

Which Winston-Salem neighborhoods have you lived in?
We currently live off of Shattalon Road.

What are your top three Winston-Salem restaurants of all time?
The soccer coaching staff really likes The Village Tavern right near campus. My wife and I really enjoy going to The Porch downtown together. River Birch is another favorite, especially since it is really close to our house.

The team on a recent trip to the Estadio Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain
Are you more of a Hanes Mall or Thruway fan?
Thruway. We like just going there and walking up and down the strip.

Where is your favorite day trip outside of Winston?
To be honest, I haven’t had a bunch of time to get out. Melodie really enjoys going to Asheville and the mountains, since it feels closer to Denver. We also really enjoyed a trip to Blowing Rock.

If you were on a stranded island and could just have one breakfast for the rest of your life, which would you choose: Moravian sugar cookies, Bojangles biscuits, or Krispy Kreme doughnuts?
Bojangles biscuits. If you threw in an ultimate bacon biscuit from Biscuitville, I would be set for life.


Carolina Panthers or Denver Broncos?
Actually, the New York Giants. I love the Giants, but I support the Broncos. My wife is a huge fan of the Broncos, and I have to do what she tells me to do.



Byron Hill: Famous Winston-Salemites

Winston-Salem is one of the greatest small cities in the world. Famous Winston-Salemites will feature some accomplished people that lived in Winston-Salem and now have moved on to do great things. All of the questions will be about their time in the Twin City.
Byron Hill’s family moved to Winston-Salem in 1953. His mother was a public school teaching assistant and his father was a technical illustrator. In 1978, he moved to Nashville and became a ten-time American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) award winner and has thirty-two U.S. and Canadian top-ten chart hits. His songs have generated more than 700 recordings and seventy-seven Radio Industry Association of America (RIAA) gold and platinum awards.
Hill has written songs for eleven artists who have gone on to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame perform his songs. Performers of his songs have included artists like Ray Charles, Alabama, Brooks & Dunn,George Strait, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Randy Travis, Jason Aldean, and Kenny Rogers. His songs have been recorded by artists from twelve different countries over his four decades of writing music. Hill is currently a staff writer at Dan Hodges LLC and serves on the Board of Directors of the Nashville Songwriters Association International. He currently lives in Nashville and is married and has one daughter.
Follow Hill at his website: http://www.byronhillmusic.com/. Below Hill answers questions about his time in Winston-Salem and his favorite things about our city:

Winston-Salem Questions:

When all have you lived in Winston-Salem?
I lived in Winston-Salem from 1953 until 1978. My family still lives there. I have three younger siblings.

Which Winston-Salem streets have you lived on?
As a very young child, we lived in Cloverdale Apartments, then moved to the South Fork area when I was 5. We lived on Kyle Road in Gordon Manor. After I returned from college at Appalachain State University, I lived on Sunset Blvd., Crafton Street, and West End.  My family remained in the South Fork area until the mid-1990’s. My mother now lives near Ardmore and I have a brother in Clemmons.


What different Winston-Salem schools did you go to?
South Fork Elementary, Southwest Junior High, and West Forsyth High School.

Who were your favorite teachers?
Many, but my sixth grade teacher was Mr. Richard Snyder and he encouraged me to be creative with my writing. My band teacher at Southwest was Richard Conklin. He was great. There were many others at junior high and high school…too many good ones to name.

What got you interested in music?
My father played guitar and I started playing when I was ten.  My influences were The Carter Family, Bluegrass, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and especially Kris Kristofferson. I started writing songs when I was sixteen.


Who all in your family are musicians?
Just my father. He played guitar and Harmonica


Where all did you have jobs in Winston-Salem?
My first job was mowing lawns and picking blackberries. Then I worked for Dr. Eubanks (a veterinarian in South Fork), at Club Haven Pharmacy, for O’Hanlon-Watson, at Baptist Hospital Pharmacy, a part-time job at Cheap Joe’s Jeans, a part-time job at a wine distributor, also Hanes Dye & Finishing (a summer job that turned into a year), Ridgetop Records, Hunter Publishing Company, and my favorite job was at Dixie Music Co. (where I taught guitar for 3 years before moving to Nashville).

What are your top three local Winston-Salem restaurants of all-time?
Way back it was Staley’s. A longtime fave has always been Vincenzo’s, and now my fave is West End Café.


What is your favorite place to go in Winston?
Downtown Fourth Street.

What is your favorite North Carolina Beach?
My family rarely went to the NC beaches, so I’ve never been an expert on where to go, but I really do like Southport and the Outer Banks in general.

Where is your favorite place in the mountains in North Carolina?
That would be the Boone/Blowing Rock area, but I also like Black Mountain.