When long-time news anchors retire, big deals tend to be made about them, the drama played out over days or even weeks. Compare this to a long-time executive producer or director, who if they’re really lucky might get a 20-second goodbye at the end of their final broadcast. Such is the difference between on-air and off-air personalities: we don’t identify with the latter.
Thursday night is the last broadcast of long-time WCAX-TV news anchor and news director Marselis Parsons, and the small Burlington station is following the standard script, going through the archives for some favourite memories (you can see text and videos of them online: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) and bloopers, collecting goodbye messages from important people (you know, the governor, both U.S. senators, their U.S. House representative, Howard Dean, freaking Ben & Jerry!), and hyping up his last show.
Then again, it might be hard to overstate this particular journalist’s mark on this station. He was first hired in 1967, became an anchor in 1972 and the news director in 1984. It’s noteworthy that we’re talking about someone who for more than 40 years stuck to a station in a market that barely cracks the top 100 in the U.S. It wasn’t because he wasn’t good enough to work in a larger market, it was because he became attached to his community and stuck around.
After the cancellation of WVNY’s newscast in 2003 and before WFFF’s News at 10 began in 2007, Parsons and WCAX were the only real voices for Vermont (NBC’s WPTZ is based in Plattsburgh, N.Y.) outside of Vermont Public Television and community stations. Even many Montreal TV watchers should recognize the name and the face.
The decisions about who will replace him were made months ago. Anson Tebbetts becomes the new news director, while Darren Perron replaces Parsons on the anchor desk.
For more on Marselis Parsons, I’d strongly recommend watching an hour-long interview he did with Lauren-Glenn Davitian of community television station CCTV two weeks ago, this short behind-the-scenes story by Kitty Werner, or his appearance on his own station’s weekend news show You Can Quote Me.
Marselis Parsons’s final newscast was Thursday, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. on WCAX-TV, Channel 3.