6ABC is replacing one longtime news anchor with another.
The station is turning to Rick Williams, who has worked as an anchor and reporter at 6ABC for more than 30 years, to replace beloved newscaster Jim Gardner on the 11 p.m. edition of Action News.
Gardner will deliver his final 11 p.m. newscast Tuesday night, but will continue to anchor the 6 p.m. edition of Action News until the end of 2022. Williams’ first 11 p.m. newscast will be Wednesday night, where he’ll be joined by sports anchor Ducis Rodgers and meteorologist Cecily Tynan.
“It’s no small thing to be able to follow a news icon and, in many ways, a role model. Jim set the journalistic bar very high at 11 o’clock, and I hope I can maintain the same standard of excellence ... while also having a bit of fun with my evening colleagues,” Williams said in a statement. “It’s going to be exciting!”
Williams currently co-anchors the station’s 5 p.m. newscast as well as Action News at 10 p.m. on PHL17. Williams also reports for the 6ABC’s weekly “Crimefighters” series and previously co-anchored Action News Morning. He’s also hosted the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade alongside Tynan since 2009.
“Rick is uniquely qualified by his 30+ years of experience in anchoring Action News in the morning, noon and evening. His knowledge of our region and deep roots in our community make him the perfect choice,” Bernie Prazenica, the president and general manager of 6ABC, said in a statement.
Williams is a White Plains, N.Y. native and a Howard University graduate, and was working as a reporter in Raleigh-Durham, N.C. in 1988 when he received the offer to join Channel 6.
“I had no inclination to work or live in Philadelphia, but you never turn down an offer from a station like [6ABC],” Williams told the Inquirer in 1992. At the time he was hired, Williams was only the second Black male anchor at the station (the first, former morning anchor Gary Majors, had left in 1985).
His first job in the business was at WOWK, then a small ABC station in West Virginia that served the Charleston and Huntington television market. He was offered that job over the phone in 1984 before he even visited the town.
“If I had visited, I probably wouldn’t have taken the job,” Williams told the Inquirer. “It’s an economically depressing place. If you weren’t a coal miner, you were unemployed. It was a culture shock for me… But I kept telling myself I wasn’t there to stay.”
Ahead of his final 11 p.m. broadcast, Gardner hopped onto social media Tuesday afternoon to congratulate his successor.
“Go get ‘em Rick! I’d say good luck, but you sure don’t need it,” Gardner wrote on Twitter.
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