The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

November 10, 2011

End of an era for local sports anchor

JOHNSTOWN — WJAC-TV sports anchor Tim Rigby will deliver his final sports report at the Johnstown-based station at 11 o’clock tonight.

WJAC Inc. and its parent company, Cox Media Group (CMG), based in Atlanta, Ga., did not renew Rigby’s contract, which officially expires on Monday.

The local native has worked at WJAC-TV for more than

30 years. He has been the 11 p.m. sports anchor since 1981.

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Rigby, 53, began working both the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. sports slots in 1986, and was named executive producer of sports in 1989. He also had co-anchored the 5 p.m. newscast for several years.

“Obviously I’m disappointed.

“I’ve had the pleasure of doing something I love for 30 years,” Rigby said.

“When I was told of the decision in August, I said that I have been given worse news in my life and everything worked out. I just have to have faith and everything will work out again.”

Rigby became ill and needed a kidney transplant from a sister in 2005. He was diagnosed with anaplastic lymphoma, a form of cancer, in October 2006. The Southmont resident overcame both life-threatening illnesses, often in the public eye while inspiring many in the community.

“I want to thank the viewers for all of their support over the years and everyone for their support through my health issues,” Rigby said.

“The people at WJAC have been a second family to me. I’ve developed friendships here that will last a lifetime. I’ve gone to more places and met more people than I ever would have imagined when I started out in this business.”

WJAC-TV Vice President and General Manager Kevin Hayes issued a statement to The Tribune-Democrat when contacted about Rigby’s status on Wednesday.

“The circumstances that have led to Tim’s imminent departure come as a result of the economic reset that has occurred in our industry,” Hayes said in the statement. “We are trying to put our resources in the best places to serve our viewers and maintain a strong business.

“Unfortunately, we have had to restructure our anchor assignments.”

Word began to spread about Rigby a few months ago, even though neither Rigby nor the station confirmed that he would be leaving.

On Oct. 9, a full-page advertisement in The Tribune-Democrat saluted Rigby for “his long-standing loyalty, commitment and dedication to local teams and athletes.” A large group of area coaches, business people and sports fans

contributed to the grassroots effort to cover the cost of the ad, which saluted Rigby for “excellence as a natural son.”

“Tim has just done a great job. He’s been an asset to the community,” said Lou Crocco, a Johnstown businessman.

“When he was ill, the way he conducted himself set an example. Tim is the face at WJAC-TV that everybody identifies with. I’ve never met anyone who had a bad word to say about Tim.”

Crocco marveled at how Rigby supporters pitched in $10 apiece and raised nearly $1,700 in four days for the newspaper ad.

“We gave the money left over to a cancer charity that Tim represents,” Crocco said.

Rigby is involved in several charities and church functions.

He is a member of the AAABA Hall of Fame.

The Ferndale High School and Pitt-Johnstown product said he felt fortunate to cover Super Bowls, Rose Bowls and local pro teams such as the Johnstown Chiefs and Johnstown Steal/Johnnies.

For years he was a mainstay in coverage of the Sunnehanna Amateur.

“The thrill of covering sports is the thrill of covering all the local athletes and coaches,” he said. “That’s my true love. That’s the reason I wanted to stay in my hometown.

“Unfortunately, what’s happened to me has happened to a lot of people around here. It’s not uncommon. I have options open and I plan to stay in the area.”

Rigby also thanked his wife, Holly, son Sean, and daughter Alyssa for their support.

“I’ve worked nights for 30 years. That’s difficult on the family,” he said. “You miss a lot of things over the years working that shift. Holly, Sean and Alyssa had to persevere while dad was at work each night.”

The WJAC-TV statement did not address how the sports department will be staffed minus Rigby. Currently, Matt Maisel is a veteran presence as a reporter and weekend anchor.

“Throughout all of this, Tim has carried himself as a gentleman and a true professional,” Hayes said in the statement. “We wish nothing but the best for Tim.”

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