Long time news anchor Bob Howell retired from television, ending more than 32 years working at WSFA 12 News, Wednesday evening. He ended the 6:00pm newscast by thanking all his co-workers in front of and behind the cameras. Bob's wife, Paula, and one of his sons, Brock, were just off camera - with most of the rest of the station's crew, to watch the final broadcast.
"Stay classy, Montgomery..." Bob said, a popular phrase from the Will Ferrell comedy, "Anchorman", as the copyright appeared on the screen. The final phrase was for his son, Alex, who couldn't be on hand for the occasion.
Bob's presence in the River Region has represented a standard of excellence anchoring news on WSFA and has been a fixture on television sets in central Alabama for more than five decades. He has had the job of delivering the day's news to thousands of viewers with a calm, trusted, steady and caring approach through difficult, challenging and happy times.
"Since first arriving in Montgomery in 1976 I've been honored to have anchored our news coverage of just about every major event in Alabama." Howell said." "I'm resigned to the fact that I'll miss the excitement of working at WSFA and in television news, but I plan to enjoy other opportunities and challenges following my retirement from television news. I feel I still have a lot to offer."
After starting in radio during high school in his home town of Geneva - and five years in TV news in Dothan, Bob Howell's career at WSFA began in August 1976 anchoring the 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts. He spent the next 22 years anchoring more than 10,000 live newscasts and serving as the News Department's Managing Editor. He also reported news from major cities around the country and had several foreign assignments covering stories in England, France, Germany, and Kuwait. During that time Howell also produced award-winning documentaries, hosted WSFA's "Newsmakers", "Alabama Illustrated", "Inside Alabama's Legislature" and co-hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon and the Children's Miracle Network fund raisers.
"I have had the pleasure of working with Bob for nearly six years. I know I will truly miss his friendship, his wealth of knowledge and perspective as well as watching him anchor on our air," said WSFA's News Director Scott Duff. "I would like to personally thank Bob for his dedication, hard work and commitment to excellence over his 30-plus years at WSFA 12 News and wish him nothing but the very, very best in his retirement."
Howell left the station in 1998, but returned in June 2004 to again anchor the news at 6 and 10 p.m. He also hosted a weekly feature called "Exploring Alabama with Bob Howell" which took him around the state reporting on interesting people, unique places and pertinent issues. Howell's wealth of knowledge of the significant issues, personalities and news events in the communities served by WSFA 12 News was a welcome addition.
"Since the ‘70s Bob Howell has been a mainstay in this region and an important member of the WSFA 12 News team," said WSFA 12 News' Vice President and General Manager Collin R. Gaston. "His wisdom, demeanor and desire to be the best have kept this station on top during all the years he has been associated with it. We wish him continued success and happiness in the future and look forward to having him back as often as we can," said Gaston.
Howell had this final thought, "When all is said and done - I'll be able to look back on the wonderful relationships I've enjoyed - especially with our viewers who have been so loyal and supportive of my efforts at WSFA 12 News."
Thanks to all who offered comments to Bob on his retirement. Here is a sampling of them:
Good luck to you on your retirement!! You have been a part of our lives so long you are almost like family in our home and we will miss you!
Bob, It seems like you are part of my family, I have watched you for such a long time. ... I wish you all the best in you upcoming retirement. You will be dearly missed. We love you and appreciate all of the hard work you put in for the past 32 years.
Thanks for serving our area. We will all miss you.
I will be 31 years old this July and have been watching you my entire life. Makes me sad to see you go but wish you the best in your retirement years. WSFA will have big shoes to fill.
Hi Bob, I will miss your face on my TV in the evenings, been watching a long time. You have always showed class on the job. WSFA will have to fill your chair with someone else, but no one will ever take your place. Best of luck & much happiness in your retirement. God bless.
Bob, I have grown up watching you on the news and I just hope that retirement will bring many fun adventures your way! You will be missed!
We moved here 8 years ago, but I feel like I've been watching you for all of the 32 years . I will miss you, but maybe I'll run across you when I'm shopping, and I can tell you in person. For some reason I feel like you still owe me 24 more years.
First, let me congratulate you on your retirement! I hope the many years to come will be filled with wonderful adventures. Second, I would like to thank you for the MANY years of service to our community. Although you do not know most of us personally, I feel that you are like part of my family. Your always calm and steady voice gave value to somewhat trivial stories, urgency to things that mattered, and most importantly, comfort in times of crisis. Thank you!
Hello, Bob. You will be missed, but I hope you enjoy all the goodness of retirement! I have been watching you on WSFA since I was a wee tot. I have enjoyed your broadcasts throughout my years. If I ever wore a hat, I would tip it to you on a wonderful job well done. :)
Central Alabama is losing a well known friend. Bob has been someone we have trusted and relied upon to inform us of what has been going on during the day. WSFA has the obligation of finding a replacement for Bob who will have a personality that we will want to invite into our homes during dinner every evening. As a community, we must remember that a 30 year career begins with someone in their late 20s or early 30s.
NO! NO!! TELL ME IT ISN'T TRUE!! We moved here in 1977 and have watched you ever since. WSFA will not be the same. The news will not be the same. Mr. Bob Howell --- "YOU" ARE THE BEST!!!!! You will be sincerely missed.
Thank you for always presenting a first class news program. Your presentation was always very clear, forthright and with class and always relaxed. When I think of WSFA, I always think of you and your news program first. As will many in the area, I will miss seeing you on WSFA.
Dear Bob , You are one of those people never forgotten. I moved from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery & then back to Tuscaloosa that last time about 19 yrs ago . I would get homesick for Montgomery because of 2 or 3 special friends & Your newscast . Yes, Bob , when I first moved to Montgomery & felt so alone , you newscasts made it feel like home to me. And when I moved away , I felt homesick for your newscasts. Will be looking forward to a book or two from you about your behind the scenes look at Montgomery through the years. Be sure to keep a facebook page open for your fans & friends so we can keep up !
Thank you for being the "Walter Cronkite" of South Alabama! You have been a part of my life and family since working at WTVY in Dothan many, many years ago. Your professionalism and attitude of caring and consideration created the trust we all needed to have in someone in the media. I remember well in a journalism class at Auburn University our discussion of editorializing the news instead of reporting it. That is one thing I never saw you exhibit...you have always been the consummate professional!