Longtime 6abc/WPVI-TV veteran anchor Jim Gardner signs off from Action News at 11

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – It’s the end of an era here on Action News.

Host Jim Gardner is stepping away from the 11pm newscast, where he served viewers for four decades.

This is the first step in his plan to fully retire at the end of this year after a career that has covered so many important stories in the Delaware Valley.

On Tuesday night, Jim signed the Action News for the last time at 11 a.m. (Read his full message below)

“No one is more thankful than I am for the special, no, unique relationship between Action News and you, our viewers. In a sense, we made a deal a long time ago – we give you our respect and commitment to honest and fair reporting, and you put your trust in us. And I can’t help but think that this is happening here in a more authentic and even more intimate way than anywhere else, ”Jim said.

WATCH: Feedback on Jim Gardner on Action News at 11 p.m.

6abc / WPVI-TV Philadelphia President and CEO Bernie Prazenica and Vice President of News Tom Davis have appointed Rick Williams as Gardner’s replacement for the 11pm newscast.

“I’m delighted that Rick Williams is presenting Action News at 11pm after Jim Gardner,” Prazenica said. “Rick is uniquely qualified with his 30+ years of experience anchoring Action News morning, noon and night. His knowledge of our region and his deep roots in our community make him the perfect choice.”

Jim has served as a long-time presenter of Action News at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. since May 11, 1977, after joining WPVI as a reporter and presenter on the noon newscast on June 1, 1976.

You can still find Jim to host our 6 p.m. TV news until he retires at the end of the year.

Jimmy Kimmel’s Message to Jim

Every night at 11 p.m. Jim hands a portion of the newscast to Jimmy Kimmel for the late night host to preview his “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” Pin up. But Tuesday night, Kimmel set aside that time to talk to Jim.

“Thanks Jim. Why are you leaving the 11 o’clock diary? Are you mad at me? Did I do this? Don’t answer me, I’m on the recording,” Kimmel said. “Just know that I will miss your mustache and the rest of you will too.”

WATCH: Jimmy Kimmel’s farewell to Jim

Jim is also known to end every 11pm TV news by listing Kimmel’s guests for that night. For a bit of trivia, Tuesday night’s lineup was Jim Gaffigan, Ann Dowd, and music by Ryan Hurd.

After Jim read these names and said goodnight to Action News viewers, Rick William, Cecily Tynan and Ducis Rodgers gave him a standing ovation.

Read Jim Gardner’s action news at 11 Message:

So this is my last show as the presenter of Action News at 11. It was a fairly long show that started on May 11, 1977.

One of the big stories that night was the vote of the SEPTA board of directors to increase the fares of buses, streetcars and subways from 35 to 45 cents.

The Phillies lost to the Giants 4-2 and Houston beat the Sixers 118-94.

Full disclosure, I didn’t remember these things, I looked for them.

That was about 16,500 11am news broadcasts ago, and our goal for each was the same as tonight: to provide a responsible, accurate, thoughtful and convincing account of the events of the day.

I loved hosting the 11 o’clock news for four and a half decades.

For me, this newscast has been a perfect blend of local news, which is our priority, and what is happening seen through a larger lens, nationally and internationally.

But I understood a long time ago that if we want to know what people are thinking everywhere, we can often find out by looking no further than our own communities, our own school boards and municipal councils, our non-organizations. for-profit, our law enforcement agencies, business communities, our colleges and universities, our union locals and places of worship.

This is what we have tried to do, hopefully with some success.

I sincerely hope that Action News at 11 provided useful information early on in the COVID-19 phenomenon, which we informed, but also that we helped you navigate the often confusing, and sometimes controversial, paths leading to your efforts to protect yourself and your loved ones.

It was and continues to be a story like no other.

No one is more thankful than I for the special, no, unique relationship between Action News and you, our viewers. In a sense, we made a deal a long time ago – we give you our respect and commitment to honest and fair dealing, and you place your trust in us. And I can’t help but feel that this is happening here in a more authentic and even more intimate way than elsewhere.

Everyone at this TV station cherishes it, and no one more than me.

And certainly no one more than Rick Williams who will sit in that chair and join Cecily and Ducis from tomorrow night.

You don’t have to tell yourself that Rick is an extraordinary broadcast reporter. You already know it. He will preside over the best days of this newscast which are yet to come.

And it will be supported by two remarkably talented people: producer Laura Mammarella and executive producer Matt Dennis. They are excellent at their job and make a presenter’s participation in the process of airing that nightly newscast nothing less than a joy.

Several other people should be mentioned.

Dann Cuellar has given his storytelling talent to this nightly newscast for decades. While our 11am news is always great when it comes to covering local news and breaking news, no one is more responsible than Dann,

Former executive producer Rick Williams, unrelated to this show’s next host, gave his heart and soul to Action News at age 11 for a generation. He and producer Matt Simansky have formed a powerful partnership, and their intelligence, judgment and dedication have made us infinitely better every night.

Oh, by the way, the efforts of all these people wouldn’t have counted without the exceptional work of director Mike Katz, who after all puts us and keeps us on the air.

I’m lucky to be able to work with Cecily and Ducis for another year at six o’clock.

We respect each other, we care about each other and I think we make a pretty good team.

And on this occasion, I also think of two people who left their handprints on this show and on my heart: Gary Papa and Dave Roberts. Even as death approached, Gary was larger than life. As for Dave, whom I consider a very dear friend, I continued to feel his presence and benefit from his guidance every night.

And thank you for allowing me to enter your homes so late at night for the past 45 years. I never took your hospitality for granted.

And I look forward to continuing to share dinner time with you for next year.

My main wish for next year: to see this pandemic retire before me.

Hopefully.

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