Tom Wills retiring from News4Jax after 49 years

The anchor will sign off from the Jacksonville station May 31.

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  • | 8:49 p.m. May 16, 2024
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Longtime TV news anchor Tom Wills announces he is retiring from WJXT TV-4 during the 6 p.m. May 16 broadcast. His last day will be May 31.
Longtime TV news anchor Tom Wills announces he is retiring from WJXT TV-4 during the 6 p.m. May 16 broadcast. His last day will be May 31.
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He’s been the face of Channel 4 for just shy of five decades, but all good things must come to an end, as they say.

Longtime lead anchor Tom Wills is retiring from News4Jax after 49 years at the anchor desk.

“After nearly 50 incredible years of reporting the news to the wonderful people of North Florida and South Georgia, it is with a mixture of gratitude and nostalgia that I bid farewell to this chapter of my life,” Wills said.

“Each day has been a new adventure, and I am humbled by the trust and support of our viewers over the years. While I may be stepping away from the anchor desk, the memories and connections forged will forever hold a special place in my heart,” Wills said.

“Thank you, Jacksonville, for allowing me to be a part of your lives. Here’s to the next chapter.”

Wills, the co-anchor of Jacksonville’s highest-rated evening newscasts, announced his departure May 16 on News4Jax at 6. His last day will be May 31.

Tom Wills and Deborah Gianoulis. Wills, a native of Pittsburgh, joined WJXT in 1975.

“Tom Wills has been an integral part of the News4Jax family for nearly five decades, and his dedication to journalistic excellence has been unmatched. His passion for storytelling and commitment to serving our community have left an indelible mark on all of us,” said Terri Cope Walton, vice president and general manager of WJXT and WCWJ. 

“While we will miss his presence in the newsroom, we are incredibly grateful for his contributions over the years and wish him a fulfilling and well-deserved retirement.”

Willis, a native of Pittsburgh, joined WJXT in 1975 and was later part of the longest-running TV anchor team in the nation, along with Deborah Gianoulis, Sam Kouvaris and the late George Winterling.

Wills, whose motto is “faith, family and 4,” is the last of the four to depart Channel 4. 

In his 49 years at WJXT, Wills helped guide the station through its transition from a CBS affiliate to an independent station in 2002; covered two space shuttle disasters, the 9/11 terror attacks and various political scandals; witnessed first-hand the birth of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1995 and endured months co-anchoring the news with Mary Baer from a card table in his home during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tom Wills with co-anchor Mary Baer. Wills is retiring after 49 years with WJXT Channel 4.

Wills was also on the only local news crew to cover the Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash in Mississippi and has followed the Jacksonville-based band through several revivals over the decades since with exclusive access and interviews.

Nine years ago, Mayor Alvin Brown declared May 12 “Tom Wills Day” in Jacksonville in honor of the anchor’s 40th anniversary with the station.

 Wills earned three Florida Emmys, two Columbia Dupont awards for documentary reporting and the Florida Associated Press Broadcasters Legacy Award.

His career began in Washington, D.C., where he was a reporter for WTOP radio and WTOP-TV.

The station where he began his career shared the same parent company as WJXT, so Wills been in the Graham Media family for 60 years.

While in D.C., Wills covered the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination riots, Bobby Kennedy’s funeral, the Supreme Court hearing on the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate break-in and President Richard Nixon’s departure from office. 

Wills also worked as a part-time instructor at his alma mater, American University, teaching news reporting. 

News4Jax is a Jacksonville Daily Record news partner



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