Jim Gardner retires: Highlights from the legendary Philly news anchor’s 45 years at 6ABC

“I feel I have a special relationship with our viewers,” said the longtime TV fixture.

Jim Gardner

Jim Gardner

Jim Gardner / Facebook

💌 Love Philly? Sign up for the free Billy Penn newsletter to get everything you need to know about Philadelphia, every day.


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 Tynan 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

 

 

Mornings are for coffee and local news

Billy Penn’s free morning newsletter gives you a daily roundup of the top Philly stories you need to start your day.

You finished another Billy Penn article — keep it up!

We hope you found it useful, fun, or maybe even both. If you want more stories like this, will you join us as a member today?

Nice to see you (instead of a paywall)

Billy Penn’s mission is to provide free, quality information to Philadelphians through our articles and daily newsletter. If you believe local journalism is key to a healthy community, join us!

Your donation brought this story to life

Billy Penn only exists because of supporters like you. If you find our work valuable, consider making a sustaining donation today.

Being informed looks good on you

Thanks for reading another article, made possible by members like you. Want to share BP with a friend?