Bentley: TV veteran Bud Elliott adjusting to retirement (video)

The Fresno BeeMay 27, 2014 

Bud Elliott says it hasn't completely sunk in that his nearly half century in broadcasting has come to an end with his retirement.

"Yesterday was Memorial Day, but I kept thinking, 'Why wasn't I going to work?' Today, I've been thinking the same thing," Elliott, 65, says just days after anchoring his last KSEE24 newscast Friday night. "I don't know how long that feeling is going to go on. It's just really surreal."

The bulk of Elliott's TV career was at KSEE (Channel 24.1): fourteen years as an evening anchor and seven years co-hosting the NBC affiliate's morning show before his contract ended in December 2007, then back in March 2012. In the past two-plus years, he worked first as co-anchor of the morning show and then moved back to the evening news anchor chair he held for so many years.

Elliott praises all of the people he worked with at KSEE, but he particularly points to his co-hosts — Stefani Booroojian and Faith Sidlow. He says it's "just sort of luck" to find an anchor that is such a perfect compliment and he found that with the women he calls "consummate professionals."

His 49th anniversary in broadcasting would have been in June. Elliott could have hit 50, since he had one more year left on a three-year contract. But health issues forced him to ask station management to let him out of the contract early.

Elliott doesn't want to go into details about his health, but he says that it was becoming more difficult to do the job at the same high level.

"It's not life-threatening, but life-changing," Elliott says.

In retirement, he plans to finally do household projects he's been putting off and get back to writing and traveling. Elliott has written five screenplays over the years and has an idea for another one. He also might turn one of the screenplays into a novel. As for traveling, he plans to make several trips to Sacramento to spend time with his new grandson.

All of those activities will help Elliott adjust to life away from the electrifying energy of a television newsroom.

"I'm going to miss the constant din of where the news is being made, of being right in the middle of that craziness," Elliott says.

As for memories of the stories he's done, Elliott will miss getting to talk with the famous (including four presidents) and infamous. The story that resonates the most with him was the 1994 crash of a Learjet in southeast Fresno that killed two. Elliott was at Manchester Center doing Christmas shopping when he saw a plume of black smoke nearby. He put his shopping aside to head to the location and was the first journalist on the scene.

Along with his coverage that day, Elliott produced a one-hour documentary that earned him an Emmy nomination. It's just one of the stories he did over the years that makes up the legacy of the veteran newsman. When Elliott looks back over the years, he's "content and satisfied" with the quality of the work he did. In his career, Elliott has earned numerous awards for excellence in journalism, including an Emmy.

Now, Elliott has to adjust to life outside the newsroom. He promises not to call the TV station when he thinks a story is being handled differently than he would have done it. He's accepted the fact that a new generation will carry on the work he's done for so many years.

Other news

Tastes good: Clear Channel Media+Entertainment Fresno will host the inaugural "Central Valley Menudo Festival" competition from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 1 at Eaton Plaza. Competitors can show off their menudo recipes for a chance to win $1,000.

The event is free to attend; sampling bowls can be purchased for $5. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Arte Américas.

Score: Oakland Raiders fans will be able to listen to the team's games on 790 ESPN 2. The Raiders games add to the sports lineup on 790 and sister station 940 ESPN that includes the San Francisco 49ers, San Francisco Giants, Oakland A's, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Lakers and 138 Fresno State sporting events.

The Raiders lineup will include all 16 regular-season games as well as all four preseason games beginning Aug. 8.

Schedule change: KFCF (FM 88.1) has added Sonali Kolhatkar's hour-long program "Uprising Radio" to its weekday morning lineup. It airs at 8 a.m. "Uprising Radio" had been airing on sister station KPFK in Los Angeles before being offered to the Northern and Central California audience.

KFCF's morning lineup includes: "Democracy Now," 6 a.m.; "Up Front with Brian Edwards-Tiekert," 7 a.m.; "Uprising Radio," 8 a.m.; "Democracy Now," 9 a.m.

New job: Former CBS47 co-anchor Evy Ramos is now co-hosting the 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. newscasts at WOAI, the NBC affiliate in San Antonio.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at www.fresnobeehive.com.

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