WTMJ’s Mike Jacobs, longest serving anchor in market, to retire in May

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Veteran WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) anchor Mike Jacobs will retire at the end of the May ratings sweeps period, the station announced Wednesday.

Mike Jacobs HiResJacobs who joined WTMJ in 1977 is the longest-serving anchor in the Milwaukee market. Jacobs co-anchors the 5, 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts with Carole Meekins.

Jacobs has won two Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. From 2005-207 he was named Television Journalist of the Year by the Milwaukee Press Club. In 2008, he was inducted into the Chicago/Midwest Regional Chapter of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle.

His retirement comes at a time of uncertainty for WTMJ.

During the February ratings sweeps period the station’s 10 p.m. newscast was in fourth place, for the first time in memory, going back at least five years. The station had been in third place at 10 p.m. the previous five ratings sweeps periods.

WTMJ did not win a single time period when in direct competition with other local newscasts.

On April 1 WTMJ owner Journal Communications and Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps will merge broadcast operations .

According to his station bio Jacobs “likes to tell people he’s been delivering the news since he was 12 years old” when he had a Des Moines Register newspaper route. “He vividly remembers reading the paper in his dad’s chair after his route every morning, sparking an early interest in news.

“He was also fascinated by radio. Mike’s memories of working at a tiny radio station in Iowa Falls, IA are a big part of his idyllic childhood. He grew up in Hubbard, Iowa , a tiny farming community where his father was a local minister. He was popular in high school, a star running back on the football team. Mike started college on a football scholarship at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, then transferred to Drake University in Des Moines, where he majored in radio and television.”

While there, he worked as a cameraman with WHO-TV and joined the station as a reporter after graduation. He later worked in Rockford before joining WTMJ as an anchor and reporter in 1977.

Below find the press release announcing his retirement.

TODAY’S TMJ4 (WTMJ-TV), Southeastern Wisconsin’s NBC affiliate, announced today that anchor Mike Jacobs will retire at the end of May 2015. Jacobs is the longest-serving TV news anchor in the Milwaukee area.

He started reporting and anchoring at WTMJ-TV in August 1977 and currently anchors the station’s evening newscasts, “Live at 5:00,” “Live at 6:00,” “Wisconsin Tonight,” and “Live at 10:00.”

Janet Hundley, News Director at TODAY’S TMJ4, says the station will celebrate Jacobs’ career and his contribution to the Milwaukee area throughout the month of May.

“Mike is part of the fabric of this great community,” Hundley said. “We want to take some time on the air to thank him and to give viewers a chance to look back at some of the stories Mike has covered…stories that have had a big impact on our lives.”

Over the course of his 37 years at the station, Jacobs has reported news from around the globe, including assignments in Rome and Beirut. However, it’s the stories that happened close to home that Jacobs is most proud of covering.

“It’s been a blessing to work for a great TV station for more than 37 years,” Jacobs said.   “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed witnessing history…in Milwaukee and around the world.  It’s been a pleasure working with so many talented journalists, but it’s time to spend more time with my family.  I’d like to thank our viewers for welcoming me into their homes.  And I’d especially like to thank TODAY’S TMJ4 for allowing me to do something I truly love.”

According to Joe Poss, Vice President and General Manager of TODAY’S TMJ4, “Mike is leaving a legacy of excellence at this station. He has set a high bar for journalistic integrity, hard work and passion. We will truly miss him.”

Steven Smith, Chairman and CEO of Journal Communications, started with the company just one year earlier than Jacobs.

According to Smith, “I have known Mike as a dedicated journalist, a supportive colleague and an overall terrific person.  Viewers and listeners have trusted Mike because his high professional standards and great regard for the audience have always been very apparent. We are honored and thankful that Mike chose to spend his distinguished career serving the Milwaukee community with Journal Broadcast Group.”

Jacobs’ work has been honored many times throughout his career. Most notably, he is the winner of two Emmys and a Peabody Award. In 2005, 2006 and 2007, Jacobs was named “Television Journalist of the Year” by the Milwaukee Press Club.

In 2008, Jacobs was inducted into the Chicago/Midwest Regional Chapter of Television Arts & Sciences Silver Circle, the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. Jacobs attended Drake University in Des Moines, where he majored in radio and television.

While a senior at Drake, Mike got a job as a cameraman with WHO-TV.  In 1973, following graduation, the company offered him a part-time job, which eventually led to his first full-time TV reporting gig.

A couple of years later, Mike moved to Rockford, Illinois to take an anchoring job at WREX-TV, a job he held until joining TODAY’S TMJ4 in 1977.

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