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After more than four decades as an anchor at 6ABC Action News, Jim Gardner announced he is retiring.
He’ll step back somewhat in early January, leaving the 11 p.m. newscast but staying on at 6 p.m., then say farewell altogether at the end of 2022. His replacement hasn’t yet been revealed.
The 73-year-old New York native got his start on radio in NYC, then made the jump to TV in Buffalo, NY. He was hired as a reporter at Philadelphia’s WPVI in 1976, and moved into an anchor role the following year.
On the air, Gardner has covered tragedies and conducted pranks. He’s as famous in the city for his calm, commanding delivery of the news as he is for his sense of humor and his everlasting mustache. He hasn’t missed much — from fires and protests to Thanksgiving parades and the Phillies’ World Series win.
“I have spent most of my adult life at Action News, and many of our viewers have grown up and experienced life along with me and the on-air team I’ve worked side-by-side with. I’ve been blessed to raise a family here and to be a member of this community over the past 45 years,” Gardner said in his announcement. “I feel I have a special relationship with our viewers and the communities we serve, and I plan to continue to enjoy every minute with them over the next year.”
By the time he retires, Gardner will have hosted Action News for 45 years — the longest tenure of any on-air personality in Philly. Nearly five decades of news delivery earned him an honor from City Council and inspired blooper reels and a dedicated station promo.
He also approached criticism with aplomb and humor. He successfully weathered the fierce pushback when the station attempted to change its iconic theme song in 1996 (don’t worry, they changed it back) and gave an unforgettable recap of the time an Action News car caught fire right in front of a rival station’s headquarters.
Here are some more highlights from Gardner’s decades of bringing Philadelphia the news.
A tribute when fellow anchor Jim O’Brien died in a skydiving accident in 1983
Helping the Philly region prep for Hurricane Gloria in 1985
When protesters got arrested in 1986
A massive fire in South Jersey’s Wharton State Forest in 1997
A 1997 broadcast about school financing, violence, and hospital strikes
When the Phillies won the 2008 World Series
Helping meteorologist Cecily Tyson find her earring in the middle of a 2017 broadcast
Taking off his tie on camera in 2018
Reconnecting with a fan from 1979 on the air in 2019