Joe Moore Hanging it Up after 43 Years

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. 1971.

Richard Nixon was Time Magazine's "Man of the Year." "Dirty Dozen" was number one at the box office. And a young news anchor splashed on the scene at NewsChannel Seven.

43 years later Joe Moore has decided to trade in the suit and tie for shorts and a t-shirt.

As we say "Happy Retirement" to Joe, we look back on the last four decades of changes--not only in the news business but Joe himself.

If anyone knows what's going on around town, it's Joe Moore. Each afternoon and evening you can catch him sharing that knowledge with tens of thousands of people who tune into NewsChannel Seven for the days' events. Something he's done for 43 years.

Chief Deputy Tommy Ford, Bay Co. Sheriff's Office: "As a young whipper snapper growing up in Port St. Joe Florida, I remember watching the news beside my dad and I remember seeing a little younger Joe Moore as the anchor."

But that's not the first place Northwest Florida residents heard the name Joe Moore. "He was the real Joe Moore on WGNE radio.”

Joe Moore, WJHG News Legend: "I spent four years in radio before I finally made the transition from radio here in Panama City to television here in Panama City."

Bill Hudson, Former WJHG Employee: "I was actually here at channel 7 about a year before Joe got here. I remember coming down the hall. He was coming in the door to do his audition tape. He came through that back door in grummy jeans and some sort of a weird t-shirt, hadn't shaved in a week..I asked them, whose this guy? Oh he's probably going to be our new News Director. I went Okkkkkaayy. He turned out to be one heck of a News Director.

Joe: "I don't remember being nervous, I'm sure I was. I walked in. Earl Hadaway sat me down. Here we go. "I did reporting, photography, writing, a little bit of everything.:"

Through the years, Joe has gained the reputation of being a solid, non sensational journalist.

"Joe is one of the old school type news person that you can trust" says Buddy Wilkes, Former WJHG Anchor. "Joe had a passion for his work like no one I had ever seen. So if you really wanted to know what having a strong work ethic and passion was, all you had to do was watch Joe Moore.

And on live T.V.--anything could and did happen. "We didn't have a teleprompter then -- we had the scripts.. you know the 6 part scripts that everyone in the studio and control room had.

But then we got to the teleprompter stage a little bit later and we've had some fun with the prompter. "We had the kind of assembly line prompter that the paper scripts would go on there and the camera would shoot down and all of the sudden something would show up. A Tom Hipps cartoon or some wild script that wouldn't really think would be appropriate for the news you'd be sitting there reading and then all of the sudden it would come up ooooohhh here we go.”

"We used to have the old podiums and you'd start reading the news and you find somebody rubbing your knee and it was Tom and he was under the podium."

"All of the sudden I hear this putt, putt, putt. Tom had an old car, a comet that was rusted out, and it came running through the garage door there and it came right towards me, and I broke up. Here I was trying to be very serious about somebody had just died in Pembroke Pines and this car was coming toward me, and nobody could see it."
"Instead of Tom getting in trouble, it was my fault."

Bill Hudson, “So finally Ray Holloway, who was our station manager at the time, God Rest His Soul, He had to do memos to everybody saying no matter what it takes, don't allow Tom Hipps to be anywhere near Joe Moore."

Joe, "Tom and I joked so much that we were forbidden from working with each other. He could not come in the studio if I was in the studio, and if he was still alive he'd tell you. That's right Moore. I had a lot of fun poking fun with you."

Back in the early days, Joe had a very different look which changed dramatically through the years, including the time he got a perm.

Joe helped kick start the careers of many aspiring journalists - like Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith and many, many others.

Tom Russell, Former WJHG Weather: "You took me seriously when I didn't know very much about weather. You always encouraged me. More importantly you made me better.

Guy Tunnell, Bay County Commissioner: "But I wanted you to know -- from my days as Sheriff I still have a number of real extensive files on you-- and I really don't know if----- I'd hate for them all to become public record --Joe I don't know what you want me to do with these--perhaps I'll send them to you in a plain brown envelope--just between us guys.

Joe Moore is a legend in this business. Coming up at six, we'll take a look at some of the big stories he's covered through the years and why he's deciding to retire.


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