UTICA -- Even though Bill Worden's retirement from TV news is no surprise -- he announced it earlier this month -- there were plenty of surprises during the "Bill Worden Farewell Celebration" which spanned through most of WKTV's early evening newscasts last night.
After devoting the first 20 minutes of the 5:00pm newscast to the news of the day and a weather forecast, the remaining 70 minutes of the broadcast were branded as the "Bill Worden Farewell Celebration."
Anchors Kristen Copeland, left, and Steve McMurray, right, hosted the broadcast, allowing Worden to "take it easy" as they took care of ushering various special guests on and off camera, and introducing video montages highlighting different aspects of Worden's 35-year run at the NBC affiliate.
The first special guest to appear was Joseph Fusco, Mayor of Rome, who presented a proclamation naming Worden's last day -- yesterday -- as "Bill Worden Day" in Rome.
Fusco was followed by Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, pictured above, who also presented Worden with a proclamation naming tomorrow as "Bill Worden Day" in Utica.
The next honor came from Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, pictured above. He presented Worden with a Certificate of Appreciation (which Worden is holding in this photo) and a collection of badges naming Worden as an "Honorary Deputy." Maciol made reference to Worden's time serving as Military Police with the U.S. Air Force in his pre-broadcasting days.
Maciol's honors were followed by Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, with a proclamation naming Saturday, December 1, as "Bill Worden Day" throughout the entire county. [Video on WKTV.com]
State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi and State Senator Joseph Griffo also appeared, each issuing Worden an honorary citation from their respective legislative bodies. [Video on WKTV's website]
Their appearances were followed by a video clip by NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, honoring Worden's longevity with the station, and "from one BW to another," wished Worden well in retirement. [Video on WKTV's website]
The anchors also presented proclamations issued by Congressman Richard Hanna and Senator Charles Schumer. [Video on WKTV's website]
Following this, Smith Media VP/GM Steve Doerr had some kind words for Worden, and surprised the outgoing anchor by unveiling a mantle clock, engraved with a message honoring Worden's years of service at WKTV. [Video on WKTV's website]
A later segment of the newscast featured many video clips from every decade of Worden's time at WKTV, including some present-day interviews with former co-workers reminiscing on their time at WKTV with Worden. Here's the complete list of former WKTV personalities your editor spotted:
Another montage included reflections by the current WKTV newsroom roster. [Video on WKTV's website]
In the final segment, Worden was seated behind the anchor desk, next to his wife Janna, and surrounded by his children and grandchildren. For several minutes, Worden reflected on how thankful he was to enjoy his work and why he chose to stay in Utica despite having offers to work in bigger markets elsewhere.
The anchor -- who also served as WKTV's news director for part of his tenure -- called television an "intrusion" into people's homes, "but only with your permission." He warmly thanked the viewers for letting him into their homes every night, and he thanked all of his co-workers for their efforts. As he did when he first announced his retirement, Worden said he plans to stay busy -- he's looking forward to spending more time as a musician, going on the road with the Mark Bolos Band (with a road trip downstate tomorrow, in fact). He's also looking forward to more time with his family, especially with his 50th wedding anniversary coming up in April. [Video on WKTV's website]
Our thanks to WKTV's Andrew Donovan for passing along the above photos, which were taken by Kevin Montano. You can see many more photos and videos on the special "Bill Worden Farewell Celebration" page on the WKTV website.
With another "Picture of the Week" in the books, it's time once again for our weekly "beg" for more photos! We're always interested in a look inside your local radio or television station... whether you've got photos of recent happenings, or a notable "blast from the past," you can send those shots to firstname.lastname@example.org. There's a new Picture of the Week right here, every Friday at 7:00am.