Mike Parker, one of Chicago’s most solid and experienced broadcast journalists, has announced his retirement after more than 35 years at CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2.
His last day on the air as a general assignment reporter at CBS 2 will be May 31, he told colleagues in an email Monday.
“It’s been a fine, fun and exciting ride through the decades – but it’s time to get off the horse,” Parker wrote. “Onward now, to travel with my family, to play golf, read and maybe do a little more writing. There are still some stories I may want to tell.”
Parker, 72, is the third seasoned veteran of CBS 2 to step down in recent months. Harry Porterfield, longtime news anchor and reporter, exited last December, and chief correspondent Jay Levine retired in January.
A native of Rock Island, Illinois, Parker began his career in 1969 in Los Angeles as a radio reporter and news director for KFI and later as a television reporter for KNXT (now KCBS). He first joined CBS 2 in Chicago as a weekend news anchor and reporter in 1980, and worked briefly for WABC in New York before returning to CBS 2 for good in 1986.
“In our newsroom, Mike is considered the dean of reporters,” Jeff Kiernan, vice president and news director of CBS 2, said in a statement. “He has covered stories in every part of Chicago and its suburbs. We’ve relied on his thorough storytelling and have been captivated by his amazing voice. He will be missed.”
A multiple Chicago Emmy Award winner, Parker was inducted in the Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2013.
Here is the text of Parker’s note to his colleagues:
It’s been a fine, fun and exciting ride through the decades – but it’s time to get off the horse. As of May 31st, I will be leaving and headed into retirement.
Little did I know when I got my first job in radio back in 1959 at KSTT in Davenport, Iowa (I was in high school) that I’d end up working for CBS. I hope you, my colleagues and friends here have the same amount of pride in this company, this business and this craft that I still carry with me. This job has taken me into war zones in Latin America, on Presidential campaigns and into every street and alley of this amazing city. And what about the rogue’s gallery of characters in Chicago politics? I know them well.
Who knows, maybe I’ll miss the deadline pressure and the racing about as a friend once said, “on the mean streets of the city armed only with our wits and the first amendment.” Maybe I won’t, but I know I will miss the friendship of all of you. It has been more than rewarding working alongside the camera operators, the producers, writers, editors and assignment managers. I’ve gotten to know you as friends too. I know I will miss that.
My biggest regret? That I didn’t have somebody snap a picture when I sat on the newsroom set in LA taping a series of promos sitting alongside a visiting Walter Cronkite. “I’m Mike Parker,” I intoned.
“And I’m Walter Cronkite. Join Mike for Channel 2 News at 6, right after the CBS Evening News.”
Onward now, to travel with my family, to play golf, read and maybe do a little more writing. There are still some stories I may want to tell.