When you hear the name Chuck Scarborough, you think of New York news in all its glory. Scarborough is likely the most recognizable face in local news, and his strong, reassuring voice delivers a nightly dose of reality.
Scarborough also has a distinct talent of articulating the ordinary into extraordinary stories, thus making him a legend among news anchors. Though Scarborough resides in Connecticut with his wife, Ellen, he has spent the last 30 years retreating to the East End of Long Island and has become a fixture here, noting, “It still has a small town feel despite all the glamour. I love the sense of community.”
The community has embraced the Scarborough family, who take full advantage of all that the East End has to offer, from its world-renowned beaches to the popular eateries. Scarborough says there is a lot to embrace here, given the distinct character of the villages and towns, their unique beauty and tranquility. He speaks fervently of his long walks on the beach, where “the sounds of civilization fade away.” In fact, the anchor and his wife spend much of their time at their home in Southampton with their two rescue dogs, Phoebe and Emma, and a cat named George.
Ever the news man, Scarborough is quick to dish about his favorite restaurants. Lamenting over the closing of Silver’s, which was a mainstay in Southampton, he was sad to see it go.
“They had the best BLT I ever had in my life,” he says.
On his “best places to go” list, there’s Tutto il Giorno for its mouth-watering catch of the day, East Hampton Grill for the best burgers in town, and Sip ’N Soda, a popular ice cream landmark. As for takeout, he says, “We have fallen for a tuna melt at Provisions. They have some multi-grain bread and a formula for tuna salad melted with cheese. It’s delightful. ”
As a professional eyewitness to history, Scarborough has observed the changes over time here on the East End. “The Hamptons have steadily become more crowded and steadily more developed. The trick is to preserve the character,” he says.
To that end, Scarborough is part of the Lake Agawam Conservancy, a group dedicated to the restoration of the “jewel” of Southampton, which becomes routinely covered in blue-green algae that he describes as “dangerous stuff.” The mission of the organization is to bring the lake back, but Scarborough himself was stunned to learn the problem was far more expansive, traced to the septic systems of thousands and thousands of homes. “It turned out we were addressing a problem that was really community wide, and if you want to expand it, it’s island wide because we get all of our drinking water out of the groundwater.”
Aside from his involvement in the conservancy, Scarborough served in the U.S. Airforce and is highly accomplished as an award-winning anchor, journalist and author of three novels. His hobbies included biking and playing tennis. But he also derives pleasure from building things by hand, like the window boxes that adorn the cottages on his property. “Everything we do on TV evaporates at the speed of light,” he says. But on the flip side, he adds, “If you build something you’re going to look at and enjoy; that gives you a jolt of satisfaction.”
Since 1974 he has been the lead news anchor at NBC and has navigated his viewers through some of the best and worst events in history. Of 9/11 he says, “That story stands in its own category. The world tilted on its axis that day and has not righted itself yet.” He also talks about the digital revolution that forever changed the way we get information. “We can cover the world much easier.”
Scarborough leaves with a funny yet harrowing story about rescuing a seagull that plays out like a news story he’d toss to from the set of NBC4. It all began on one of those “quiet” walks on the beach. Scarborough’s precocious dog Phoebe spots a seagull in distress. The anchorman springs into action, and eventually pries the lifeless seagull away from the tight, debilitating clench of a clam. Once on its feet, the seagull snaps back, attacks and bites the hand of its famous rescuer, then flies away and narrowly escapes a moving car.
“The deed was done and it did not go unpunished” he recalls jokingly. Almost as though the seagull knew it would make for a great story. A story that only Chuck Scarborough can tell.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and Associate Publisher at Dan’s Papers.