LONGTIME weekend anchor Rob Jennings is retiring from 6abc after 36 years at the station.
His last newscast is scheduled for July 31.
Jennings said he and his wife, Karen, a former news anchor herself, wanted to retire to their home in southwest Florida while they still had time to enjoy it.
"I love what I do, I love telling stories and anchoring," Jennings told me. "I've been blessed with that ability since I was 5 and my kindergarten teacher had me telling stories to the other children. Stories like the Three Little Pigs and [the Three Bears]. It just occurred to me that it happened before I could even read."
A native of Miami, Jennings went into radio right after high school, switching to television news in 1966 and starting his job as a weekend anchor at 6abc in 1977. In addition to holding down the weekend chair, Jennings spent 16 years as the face and producer of Action News Crimefighters. The segment profiled criminals, leading to the arrest of nearly 200 suspects.
Jennings told me that two highlights of his career were flying with the Air Force Thunderbirds and the Navy's Blue Angels.
"It really hit me in the solar plexus because I flew up with the Blue Angels with Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon, an officer and a gentleman who let me take the stick and do a couple rolls. A year later, I had to read his death in a crash at the Niagara Falls Air Show on air," Jennings said.
Jennings was inducted into the Philadelphia Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2003.
"Rob has played a huge role in the success of Action News and 6abc for decades," Bernie Prazenica, president and general manager of 6abc, said in a statement. "I can't thank him enough for all that he has done. His talent and professionalism are unsurpassed in broadcast journalism. We will miss him as a colleague and a friend and wish him everything good in retirement."
In an email, longtime anchor Jim Gardner told me: "In addition to his impressive abilities as a broadcast journalist, Rob is just an incredibly nice guy. He always shows a personal interest in you, and over 36 years, that's a lot of interest! I wish him and Karen so much happiness in this next phase of their lives."
Jennings and Karen have been married for 27 years. They have two children, Rob, a senior a Villanova, and Becca, who works at First Person Arts.
So what will the couple do on their first weekend off?
"Karen says she'll be excited to have someone to watch football with," Jennings said. "I will be having fun with the love of my life, and I'll have fond remembrances of the people that I love in Philadelphia."
Three Philly-area food trucks will compete on "Live with Kelly and Michael" for a chance to win $20,000 in "Live's Truckin' Amazing Cook-Off."
Chefs from Atlantic City's Mustache Mobile, Philly's own Sugar Philly and Phoenixville's The Sunflower Truck Stop: Mobile Café will appear on the show throughout the summer. Michael "The Butcher" Hauke will appear on this Friday's show. Catch him on ABC at 9 a.m.
Betting host Kelly Ripa, who's from South Jersey, goes local when it comes to judging.
Food blog Grub Street, HQ'd at New York magazine, announced yesterday that it would close its local branches, including Philadelphia. No word yet on what editor Collin Keefe plans to do next.
Singer-songwriter Doreen Taylor, a Temple alum, hits the World Cafe Live tomorrow for a show supporting the Jaws Youth Playbook organization, founded by Ron Jaworski.
"I love Ron Jaworski! We're identical, even though we don't look anything alike," the very blond, considerably cuter (sorry, Jaws) Taylor told me. "He was born and raised in the same area I did, we're both Polish and we both put our roots here."
Despite her more modern sound, Taylor started out as an opera singer. "It would hit me when I was wearing the big wigs and costumes. . . . It's beautiful music but there's only so many times you can sing a Puccini opera," Taylor said. "There's only so much of your stamp you can put on it. You can't go too far to the right or left. It's like being an office and doing data entry."
Opening for Taylor, the Laura Cheadle Family Band will kick things off at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at doreentaylorlive.brownpapertickets.com.