Official WPVI-TV Photo
Born James Goldman (son of a prominent New York City doctor) on Monday, May 17, 1948 in New York City, Jim Gardner has lived most of his adult life right here in the Delaware Valley. In 1970, Jim received his Bachelor of Arts degree (in Political Science) from Columbia University. It was there where Gardner got his first taste of Broadcast Journalism. Gardner reported on the "Historic Student Riots" at Columbia in 1968 for the university’s radio station, WKCR-FM. Until then, he wanted to be a Political Science professor.
Following his graduation in 1970, Jim Gardner was a desk assistant, writer and producer for all-news WINS Radio in New York (sister station to KYW Newsradio). In 1972, Gardner joined WFAS Radio in White Plains, New York as a reporter. Shortly after arriving at the station, Gardner was appointed News Director.
In 1974, Jim Gardner had decided to go back to college to get a Master’s degree at Brown University. However, WKBW-TV offered him a job as a news reporter in Buffalo. He took the gig. Within six months, Gardner added the role of weekend anchor and substitute weekday anchoring to his duties.
Gardner recalls: I was asked if I would consider changing my name. We had Irv Weinstein, Henry Tannenbaum, a lot of nice Jewish guys on the staff. But the Buffalo Jewish population was relatively small and I was asked whether I might consider it. I didn't like the idea. I wasn't brought up to like the idea, but I had been trying to get a job in television for a year and a half. He considered Gould and Good and finally settled for Gardner.
As a very young and still very green anchorman, Gardner was pressed into his first "big" story when the station's veteran anchorman was on vacation. President Richard Nixon resigned the presidency.
In January of 1976, Gardner launched WKBW's noon news broadcast, which immediately became the highest rated noon newscast in the market.
Gardner joined WPVI-TV in Philadelphia on Tuesday, June 1, 1976 as a reporter and anchor of the noon news. He became the station's anchor of the 5:30 news in November of that year. On May 11, 1977, one of Philly’s most eligible bachelors, Gardner assumed his position of anchorman of Action News at 6 pm and 11 pm, a spot vacated by Broadcast Pioneers member Larry Kane.
In 1983, there were rumors everywhere (both in Philly and NYC) that Jim Gardner was leaving Action News to anchor on sister station WABC-TV, Channel 7. Of course, it never happened.
WPVI’s website in 2005 said: Gardner has won numerous awards, but like his colleagues at Action News, he is more proud of the special relationship he and his co-workers have established with the viewers of the Philadelphia region. Gardner feels his "awards panel" is made up of the millions of viewers who regularly rely on Action News for information about their neighborhoods, their communities, the region, the country and the world. While many local, national and international stories do stand out, Gardner is most proud of his longevity and consistency, being there at 6 and 11 day in and day out for almost twenty-eight years.
Jim feels that a successful anchor must be a good reporter. Gardner has left the confines of the newsroom and the studio to follow John Cardinal Krol to the Vatican for the death of Pope Paul VI. Gardner also traveled to the Rein Mein Air Force Base near Frankfurt, West Germany to report on the return of the American Hostages held in Lebanon. Jim Gardner reported from Russia on the demise of the Soviet Empire. And when the Israeli-Palestinian Peace accords were signed in Washington, Gardner went to Israel and the West Bank to tell the historic story from the point of view of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Gardner has covered every Democratic and Republican political convention since 1980, and has interviewed every president and major presidential candidate since 1976.
Jim Gardner's community obligations are important to him. He has long been committed to the efforts of the Federation of Allied Jewish Appeal. He is grateful for the opportunity to devote time and resources to The Friends' Central School in Wynnewood and to his Alma Mater, Columbia University. Gardner was named Columbia's Philadelphia alumnus of the year in 1985. Since 1987, one student each year studying journalism or broadcasting at Temple University has been awarded the Jim Gardner Scholarship to help pay for his or her education.
In 1996, the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia selected Jim Gardner as “Person of the Year” and in 2003, he was inducted into our Hall of Fame.
Jim Gardner once said: Our obligation is still fairness, and delivering the news with the right amount of historical context. Jim Gardner has four children. Gardner and his wife, Amy live in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by WPVI-TV
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