Sacramento TV station Channel 10 (KXTV) bid farewell this week to four veteran journalists whose combined news experience at the local ABC affiliate spanned more than a century.
All four accepted a buyout offer from station owner Tegna Inc.
The staffers leaving KXTV are George Warren, a reporter/anchor at the station since 1981; Dave Marquis, a live/breaking-news veteran since September 1993; Tim Daly, a San Joaquin Valley newsroom reporter and sometime anchor who came to KXTV in September 1991; and photojournalist Mark Pepper, who worked with Daly in the station’s Stockton bureau for 24 years.
Although McLean, Va.-based Tegna has declined to comment on its buyout offer, veteran journalists at other Tegna stations across the country have confirmed that they accepted buyouts and made retirement announcements. Tegna, formed last year when Gannett Co. separated its television and digital assets into a separate company from its newspapers, recently offered buyouts to employees ages 55 and older with at least 15 years of company service.
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KXTV, an ABC affiliate, has telecast on-air tributes to its departing journalists all week. The Bee’s attempts to reach them in the past few days have been unsuccessful.
Warren, the most senior of the departing staffers, reported major news stories from all over the world during his 35 years at the station.
He covered the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the destruction of the Berlin Wall the following year. He was the first California journalist in Montana after the arrest of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski in 1996.
In a KXTV broadcast tribute that aired this week, Warren said that “being in front of the camera was never my primary goal. I just wanted to be part of the process.”
For Warren, however, there was a bonus: He met his wife, veteran Sacramento journalist Sharon Ito, at the station, although Warren recalled that, at first, “she didn’t pay any attention to me.”
News of Warren’s retirement prompted an outpouring of congratulations and remembrances on social media.
The same was true of Marquis, who was known to many KXTV viewers as the reporter who would endure just about anything to make a live-on-the-scene report crackle with intensity.
He routinely walked among the flames at California wildfires, and when a snowstorm pounded the Sierra Nevada, Marquis typically reported the latest developments standing knee-deep in snow amid a howling wind.
Recalling his wildfire reporting exploits, Marquis noted in his on-air tribute: “You have to really understand the issue of fire, but once you do, it’s not nearly as dangerous as people think it is.”
Marquis said he loved the action, adding, “But really there’s a trust you have with people you have to honor when you tell their stories. That’s the heart of the business really.”
Reporter Daly and cameraman Pepper clicked as a team right away when they began covering Stockton and the surrounding area nearly a quarter-century ago.
Daly recalled in his on-air tribute: “Almost immediately when we started to repeat the same jokes from (movies) ‘Airplane’ and ‘Caddyshack,’ I knew I found the right place. We were clicking, and it doesn’t work otherwise.”
“We work well together, and we share the same philosophy of news, so you don’t have those big fights every day,” Pepper said.
This week’s emotional on-air tributes included extensive film footage of years gone by, and plentiful visual evidence of changes in clothing, hairstyles and newsroom sets. In video footage, the departing journalists recalled high points in their careers and dramatic changes in television news technology – a period that saw them go from sending videotape to the station on a bus to today reporting from a remote site on a laptop, and sending the footage through a smartphone to KXTV.
Walt Gray, a news anchor for Channel 10, said, “It’s sad for us to see them go, but we’re happy to see that they’re happy, and we wish them well.”
The video tributes to the departing journalists that aired on Channel 10 this week can be seen online at abc10.com.