(Left to right) Dave Platta, Jason Dennis, Paul Therrien, Cheryl Morgan Myers, Wayne Bennett, Borden Black, Kurt Schmitz, Bob Jeswald, Columbus, GA TV personalities
It was like a family reunion at the Borden Black and Cheryl Morgan Myers “oldtimers” retirement party for WTVM anchorman Wayne Bennett . Wayne’s last night on WTVM will be Friday, May 15, 2009. Just as it did for me when I retired in 2000, the station will give Wayne a few minutes at the end of the 6 p.m. newscast to say goodbye.
Wayne Bennett, retiring WTVM anchor, Jason Dennis, WXTX Fox 54 anchor and WXTX/WTVM reporter
Jason Dennis, who anchors the 10 p.m. news on WXTX, Fox 54 and also does some reporting that airs on both WTVM and WXTX, has been preparing reports on Wayne’s broadcasting career. Wayne is happy with that. “I requested that he be the one to do it,” he said. “I asked him to keep it light, not make it into an obituary. I’m not dead.” That could be a clue that Wayne will keep his goodbye light Friday evening.
“How would you sum up your 20 years at WTVM?” I asked him.
“That’s a loaded question, Dick. I have to be careful because you’ll put it on your website,” he quipped.
I smiled and suggested, “Just tell the truth.”
“Well, the truth is that television has been good to me. I have enjoyed it, but, I don’t like the direction television [news] is taking so I am glad to be getting out at this time. That’s the truth”
The sentiment that TV news has been and continues to go downhill was prevelent among the oldtimers who are no longer in the business.
But, the serious stuff didn’t dominate the party. There were plenty of laughs, and folks had a good time remembering stories they had covered over the years. Though there is concern about the future direction of TV news, it was clear that the oldtimers love the business. Like I have always said, one thing is for sure, you won’t be bored if you work in television news. It does, indeed, get very exciting.
Wayne and Betty Bennett, Wayne Bennett's "oldtimers" retirement party
Now, like me, and Dee, Wayne gets to kiss the crushing deadlines goodbye and to relax a little. And that’s what he plans to do. He and wife Betty, after a brief stay in Florida, are heading for Panama, where they plan to live. The cost of living there is a third less than in the United States, Wayne told me. How long? “Well, that depends on how well we like it. If we don’t like it, we’ll go somewhere else,” Betty said.
“Sounds like you are going on an adventure.”
“That’s right,” she said. “We are going on adventure and we look forward to it.”
Sounds like a fine plan to me. After all, life is for living, as the cliche’ goes. Bon voyage to both of you.
For years, Wayne sported a mustache, but shaved it off a few years ago. I asked him, “Are you going to grow a mustache now?”
“I’m probably going to grow a full beard,” he said.
He gets one more retirement party. WTVM is having one for him Saturday.