Official "Action News" Publicity Photo
As a child, when he was finished playing baseball or football, Scott Palmer was glued to the family television. Everything about the medium fascinated him, including watching how newscasts were produced. He didn't realize it then, but he was studying for his future career.
Born on Wednesday, October 26, 1949, Scott Palmer holds a Bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University, class of 1975. He was an English major before switching to broadcasting.
After graduation, Scott enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida. First as an air traffic controller, and then later as a commissioned public affairs officer. During Scott's military career, to remain current with broadcasting, he worked part-time as a studio cameraman at WJXT, the CBS affiliate in Jacksonville. At that station, he was the camera operator for sportscaster Mike Patrick, who is now doing play by play for NFL games on ESPN.
When Scott was discharged from active service, he accepted a position as a news reporter for WJKS, then the ABC station in Jacksonville. Within a few months, he was promoted to News Anchor. From there, Scott's career took one of many turns. Always interested in sports, he took a job as sports director at WSPA, the CBS affiliate in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
While there, Scott convinced the station to begin extensive weekly reports on Nascar, traveling to as many as 20 races a year, and providing the CBS network with filmed reports for its local stations. This is also where Scott had a chance meeting with noted ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson that would change the course of his career.
Concerned at the time with being just another local sportscaster who read the highlights and gave scores, Jackson told Scott that there was no rule about how to report sports. He should find his own motivation and style, and most of all have fun.
Later stops on Scott's "southern tour" included WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina, and WVTM, in Birmingham, Alabama.
On one Sunday in Asheville, while Scott was flying in a private plane to a race in Atlanta, he learned of an earthen dam collapse that had taken lives at a bible school in Tocoa Falls, Georgia. He made the decision to change course, find a small airport near the school, and file a report on the collapse.
While in Alabama, Scott reported on Alabama's legendary football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, and followed the Crimson Tide to a national championship in the Sugar Bowl. He also did the first television interview with Charles Barkley, then a basketball star at a local Alabama high school. Scott was rewarded with back-to-back Alabama Sportscaster of the Year Awards during his two years in the state.
On Monday, March 23, 1981 , WPVI Television hired Scott Palmer. He was brought on board to become the sportscaster for a new 5 pm edition of Action News. For the next 18 months, Scott was fortunate to sit beside, and learn from, the late Jim O'Brien.
This Philadelphia television legend taught him the most important thing he would ever learn about broadcasting: to simply talk to the folks. O'Brien knew that the key to success on television is being yourself. He realized that the viewing audience, and the camera, could spot a phony a mile away.
Scott Palmer's first assignment at Channel 6 was reporting on the Final Four at the Spectrum, won by Indiana and Isiah Thomas. That same year, he covered the U.S. Open in Merion, Pennsylvania, and also the controversial baseball strike of 1981. It was a quick lesson that Philadelphia would be a lot faster track than his previous stops down south.
Scott also traveled with the Phillies to the World Series in 1983, and followed the Sixers championship season of 82-83. To this day, it remains Philadelphia's last major professional sports team to win it all. Two years later, Scott was back at the Final Four, this time with the Cinderella Villanova Wildcats in Lexington, Kentucky. Their shocking victory over Georgetown remains one of the biggest upsets in sports history.
Other career highlights for Palmer include being in Pittsburgh with Mike Schmidt when he hit his 500th Career Homer, and being on location for one of the strangest NFL games of all time, the Eagles infamous Fog Bowl Game against the Bears in Chicago. Scott was also in Baltimore, when Cal Ripkin, Jr. broke Lou Gherig's iron man record, and in St. Louis, for Mark McGwire's record 62nd home run.
He also covered the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, and has reported on every major sports championship, the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, the Stanley Cup Finals, and the World Series. Scott was also the only Philadelphia television reporter to follow the rehabilitation of Adam Taliafero, the Penn State football player, who made a miraculous recovery after an injury left him paralyzed.
But what may have set Scott Palmer apart from all the others was his way of finding stories off the beaten track. Whether it was camping out with the Philly Phanatic on the roof of Veterans Stadium, before opening day, profiling an inspirational high school golfer with Downs Syndrome, or following a team of inner city little leaguers as they barnstormed America in a 1930's bus, he took pride in using television as a mirror to reveal more about where we live, and who we are. Scott also coached a team of 10 year olds in North Philadelphia, as part of a program called Reviving Baseball in the Inner City.
In 1997, Scott's career turned back to news. He began anchoring the Sunday morning edition of Action News with Anita Brikman. Three years later, he introduced another new edition of the city's top rated newscast, adding Saturday mornings to his schedule.
Scott has received several honors, including Pennsylvania Special Olympics Sportscaster of the Year, the Champion in the Community award given by Magee Rehabilitation Hospital, and a special award from the Philadelphia Section of the PGA. Scott is a board member of the Friends of Jerry Segal Golf Classic, and provides his time to several other charities, including Variety Club.
Scott and his wife Kathryn were married in 1971 and live in the suburbs of Philadelphia. They have two grown children; a daughter, Jennifer, a kindergarten teacher in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania and a son , James, who is on track to graduate from Ohio State with degrees in Journalism and Physical Education. After graduation in 2006, he plans on becoming a high school teacher and coach.
Palmer’s contract ran out on Sunday, May 15, 2005 but was asked to stay until Friday, June 17th before retiring. On Friday, November 18, 2005, Scott Palmer was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia “Hall of Fame.”
Scott couldn't stay retired so he went to work for the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club as their Director of Public Affairs.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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