John McNamara was in his first time period as Rockford mayor, a heated debate raged over the way forward for the town’s house rule authority and Image was faraway from the downtown mall the identical yr a fresh-faced aspiring broadcaster from Wisconsin named Andy Gannon was employed at WIFR-TV, the native CBS affiliate.
Quick ahead 4 many years: McNamara’s son, Tom, is within the mayor’s workplace, the town’s house rule powers have lengthy since been repealed, Image discovered a brand new house alongside the Rock River and Gannon remains to be firmly entrenched at WIFR, though his lush darkish brown head of hair has turned snow white.
“That is my one and solely job,” Gannon stated in his distinctive baritone voice. “I graduated from the College of Wisconsin in Could of 1982 and bummed round for the summer time and realized I higher discover a job. I discovered one in Rockford and have been right here ever since.”
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Gannon, who began out as a common task reporter and weekend sports activities anchor, will mark 40 years at WIFR on Feb. 11.
Within the early days, Gannon labored alongside such notables as information anchor and future U.S. Senator Rod Grams, information anchor Eric Greene and meteorologist Sue Mroz.
Newsroom know-how in these days consisted of typewriters and mimeograph machines to make copies of scripts, which have been then slapped on a conveyor belt to assist run the studio’s teleprompters.
“I believed I’d be right here for a few years after which I’d return to Milwaukee or, heck, even ESPN may discover me as a result of I began on the sports activities aspect of issues right here, however plans change,” Gannon stated.
Plans modified and Gannon’s function continued to evolve on the station. He was named sports activities director in 1985 and transitioned to co-anchoring 23 Information This Morning in 1994.
Gannon’s longtime morning associate and climate forecaster, Aaron Wilson, would come aboard in 1998.
“Aaron introduced a complete completely different facet to Rockford morning TV,” Gannon stated. “He was forward of his time so far as innovating with social media and interacting with folks on reside pictures. Total, we’ve established a powerful mutual respect for each other, the viewers have accepted us and I believe that’s been a key that continues right now.”
Gannon has additionally served as assistant information director and interim information director throughout his 4 many years at WIFR.
His on-air longevity at one station, particularly within the Rockford market, is just about unprecedented, stated WIFR information director Maggie Hradecky.
“We’re a starter market, in order that they (reporters and anchors) come and so they go, and that’s okay,” Hradecky stated. “It’s fairly cool once you get any person who involves Rockford and finds the connection and makes it their house and makes it their ardour.”
Gannon has seen lots of of broadcast journalists come via Rockford and transfer on to bigger markets or depart the enterprise for an additional occupation. His recommendation to right now’s younger journalists?
“Hone your writing abilities,” he stated. “I don’t know if it’s emphasised as a lot because it was in colleges, however writing is hard, and you want to discover methods to write down extra.”
Gannon and his spouse, Wendy, have been married for practically 39 years and have two kids collectively.
For now, Gannon has no plans to retire.
He’ll proceed to roll off the bed at 1:45 a.m. for his bleary-eyed drive to the station, the place he’ll put collectively 23 Information This Morning and work alongside Wilson and co-anchor Marta Berglund, who joined the present in March 2022.
“I’m 62,” Gannon stated. “I believe I’ve received a number of years left in me. We’ll see.”
Ken DeCoster covers enterprise information and options. Contact him at 815-987-1391, email@example.com or @DeCosterKen.