After 40 years, WBZ-TV Channel 4 anchor Jack Williams will deliver his last newscast on Thursday at 5 p.m., wrapping up a storied career that won him four Emmy Awards, induction into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and a host of other recognitions.
On his first day in May 1975, Williams reported on Boston’s busing program. “I jumped in with both feet,” he said.
Since then, he hunkered down in the office to cover the Blizzard of ’78 (he wore the same clothes for four days and subsisted on candy bars) and he traveled to Normandy to report on New England veterans.
Williams also introduced Wednesday’s Child, a program that has helped more than 800 special-needs children find homes.
Through it all, Williams, originally from Idaho, said he has come to love the Northeast, particularly the local passion for news. “In the old days,” he said, “you could almost see a power surge at 6 and 11.”
Then came the Boston Marathon bombings. “It hit me to my soul,” he said. As part of the WBZ team that covered the bombings and the aftermath, Williams was awarded a Columbia DuPont Award and a Peabody Award. “It made you very proud,” he said. “How the victims responded, and how people rallied around the victims.”
What’s next? Williams, 71, says he’s planning on “just enjoying life.” For him, this involves delving deeper into his research on the Second Ranger Battalion, sifting through the more than 1,000 hours of oral history he has recorded.
Among viewers, Williams says, he’s treated not as a celebrity but more like a neighbor or friend, which he appreciates. “New Englanders take a long time to get to like you,” he said. “But, boy, once they do.”
Stephanie McFeeters can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mcfeeters.