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Communications Lessons from Jim Gardner’s Retirement Announcement
After 44 years, Jim Gardner is calling it quits – eventually.
The longtime 6abc Action News anchor announced his retirement plans last week.
He’ll wind down his role in phases, beginning with a transition out of the 11 p.m. newscast early next year. He will remain in the 6 p.m. evening slot for the duration of 2022 before hanging up his earpiece and necktie for good.
When many of us learned of his retirement, we were gutted. It’s a strange emotion to feel for a news personality we don’t know personally. But he’s always provided a sense of familiarity, Philadelphia pride and trust.
Through political conventions, bombings, Live Aid and Live 8, lost earrings, World Series titles, a Super Bowl ring and countless segments, he has been the face of the news in Philly for more than four decades.
His longevity also reflects a changing media landscape. Local broadcast news remains an essential outlet for many industries, but it’s had to evolve to continue to connect with viewers, just as PR strategies to secure coverage have had to evolve with it.
He’s hosted, narrated and reported on dozens of stories Braithwaite has been a part of over the years. It’s always exciting when ABC covers an event. But when Jim Gardner reports on it, there’s a special weight and credibility that pays dividends. He’s nothing short of a Philadelphia media institution.
For countless Philadelphians, Jim Gardner is Action News. Perhaps only the theme song is more closely connected to the brand. We welcome him into our homes and rely on him to tell us what’s going on in our neighborhood and the world. It’s a real connection, which is disrupted by his impending retirement.
It’s a tricky spot for 6abc. Anytime a brand is so closely associated with an individual, there’s an inherent risk, and transferring that trust requires careful planning.
If you haven’t seen his on-air announcement, it’s worth watching. It hits on several key elements of effective transition communications, from reassuring his audience to laying a clear timetable for what’s to come.