UTICA -- After nearly 50 years in broadcasting, Bill Worden is ready to call it a career. The Herkimer native, who has anchored WKTV's 6pm and 11pm newscasts since 1977, is retiring, and his last day with WKTV will be Thursday, November 29. Worden made the announcement tonight on NewsChannel 2 at Six. Station management says new anchor assignments will be revealed next week.
On the air tonight, Worden said he "will be leaving WKTV to pursue other interests. Retiring? Shuffling around in slippers? I don't think so! I've actually joined a band!" Later in the announcement, Worden said he joined The Mark Bolos Band as a percussionist. By leaving the TV news world behind, Worden will be free to tour with the band. He says he's also looking forward to trying his hand at internet radio. Worden also reminisced about how a trip to Rockefeller Center as a youngster -- where he saw the "original" Today show with Dave Garroway and chimpanzee J. Fred Muggs -- helped spark his interest in broadcasting.
Worden noted that he's going to shift his schedule for the coming weeks, giving up the 11pm newscast to anchor the 6pm newscast only.
In a statement issued by the NBC affiliate, Worden said he has enjoyed his run at WKTV, and he's confident the station will continue to prosper:
I treasure my years with WKTV and the people I’ve been honored to work with, including some of the original members of the station, who were still here when I started. But, it’s simply time to do this. Television has always been about change, and being willing to adapt to that change. That’s one thing that’s kept my career going all these years. WKTV is not just a television station; it’s an historic television station and will continue to set the standard for television in the Mohawk Valley for years to come.
Station Manager and News Director Steve McMurray called Worden "a fixture in Central New Yorkers' homes." McMurray, who worked opposite Worden for several years at WUTR before joining WKTV in 2002, said, Worden "is not just a newscaster, he’s an institution—one that I’ve been fortunate to watch, learn from, and work alongside. I wish Bill many happy years in retirement. We are all better off for his time at NewsChannel 2.”
Even at the network level, Worden's retirement is being noticed. NBC News President Steve Capus said, "Bill Worden is the kind of respected journalist who makes NBC mean something. The network, after all is a collection of cities and small towns across this great country, and there is no doubt, in Central New York, Bill has represented NBC with distinction. We wish him the best after 35 remarkable years.”
WKTV says Worden will continue to anchor the station's 6pm newscasts for the next four weeks. His last newscast will be November 29.
Although Bill Worden is a Herkimer native and spent most of his career in Utica, some viewers may not know that Worden's first TV job wasn't at WKTV -- or anywhere in Utica, for that matter. WKTV provided the following background on Worden's 47-year career in broadcasting:
WKTV News Anchor Bill Worden will be leaving WKTV, capping 35 years at the station to pursue other interests. His last day on the air will be November 29th.
Worden began his broadcast career in 1965 at (then) WBVM under the guidance of local broadcast veterans Mike and Dan Fusco. Ironically, Mike Fusco was the first General Manager of WKTV and hired a young Dick Clark to do news there.
Worden, a Herkimer native, attributes much of what he learned to the Fusco family to whom he often refers as “the guys who trained Dick Clark.”
Bill’s circuitous route took him to local radio station WRUN until 1971 when he had an opportunity to enter television in Wichita, Kansas. Worden moved his family to Kansas, his wife Janna’s home state, and served as the main anchor for KTVH (Now KWCH) Channel 12, A CBS affiliate, in Wichita.
In August of 1973, Worden accepted an offer as main news anchor for WTVN in Columbus, Ohio. Later that year, he accepted an offer to return to KTVH in Wichita where he continued anchoring their 6 O’Clock News.
While in Wichita, Worden earned several awards for two bicentennial year documentaries in 1976, including one from the state’s farmers for a half-hour documentary on Kansas’ two major industries, meat and wheat.
He was also cited for his work on an historic documentary, “The Gunfighters”, including former Wichita Marshall Wyatt Earp, Billy the Kid, Bat Masterson of Dodge City, Kansas, the Dalton Gang and the infamous shootout in Coffeyville, Kansas that ended their reign.
In 1977, Bill Worden accepted an offer to replace long-time WKTV News Anchor Jerry Fiore who left to pursue a broadcast career in Florida.
In his nearly 35 years at WKTV, Worden has anchored the 6 and 11 Newscasts and served as News Director at one time.
His list of interviews runs the gamut from President Reagan to Henry Kissinger, but his favorite continues to be an interview with the late singer Bobby Darin, shortly before Darin’s death.
Worden, a percussionist, has joined the Mark Bolos Band and will be traveling with them. He is also working with a local businessman, pursuing the growing interest in internet radio. “I always envied Danny Fusco, who was able to do his radio show right from his office at home,” said Worden. “The difference now is, your show can be heard all over the world.”
Worden says he treasures his years with WKTV and the people he has been honored to work with. He also says he was blessed to be able to work with some of the original members who were still there when he started. Concerning his departure, Worden simply says, “It’s time to do this.”
Of television’s future, Worden says, “Television has always been about change, and the young people who come along today will have to be willing to adapt to that change. It’s probably the one thing that’s kept my career going all these years. WKTV is not just a television station. It’s an historic television station and will continue to set the standard for television in the Mohawk Valley for years to come.”
CNYTVNews.com has received a tip about the new anchor lineup at WKTV, but Steve McMurray tells us the tip we received wasn't entirely accurate -- so we'll hold off on sharing what we've heard. McMurray says an official announcement will be made early next week. We'll post an update here on CNYTVNews.com as soon as we learn more.