Goofus and Gallant

"Joltin'" Marc Pickard, Retiree

Marc Pickard retired from WXIA in September.  It was bittersweet for all of us.  Pickard is a gifted storyteller, and a guy who probably never had an undignified moment in his entire career.  Even when he covered breaking news, Pickard was at his best.

His retirement process paralleled my own departure from WAGA in 2007, kind of like the end of the Pittsburgh Pirates season parallels that of the New York Yankees.  Both of us left voluntarily after two decades.  The similarities end there.

Pickard was an elegant DiMaggio, a graceful hall of famer.  I am more Ted Simmons, an affable but clunky backstop with an erratic bat and no speed.

Pickard got a champion’s sendoff, the equivalent of a parade downtown.  I got the exit of a guy who spent his last seasons growing tomatoes in the bullpen at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium.  In hindsight, it makes perfect sense.

Pickard: A staff meeting is called during late Spring, and his retirement is announced.  Pickard is halfway-seriously told he will be able to select “any story he wants” during his final workdays.

Richards: I post a handwritten, one-line letter of resignation on my desk.  Passersby may or may not notice it.

Pickard spends his final two days working with Mike Zakel, a photographer with whom he had traveled the world and developed a close relationship.

Richards is assigned to work his final shift with a photographer he’d never shot a story with previously.

Pickard’s final story is a classy retrospective of his career at WXIA.

Richards’ final story was a stakeout at a home where a murder-suicide had taken place nearly a week earlier.

Pickard completed  on-air delivery of his final story, upon which the studio filled with coworkers and applauded Marc on-air.

Richards delivered a forgettable 5:30 live shot, then was told to “swing by” downtown Fayetteville and back up another reporter on another story before returning to Atlanta.

Pickard’s departure was capped with an in-house party, where a tribute piece was shown.  Former colleagues were invited.

Richards’ departure was acknowledged with miniature Publix muffins and orange juice during the morning editorial meeting, a two-fer with Mike Daly, who departed the same day.

Pickard’s departure party had a large spread of food and drink, paid for by WXIA.

Richards and Daly got stuck with a $400 + bar tab at a Manuel’s Tavern sendoff that night.

The producer

Pickard was the object of an in-house tribute movie short.   It was filled with ridiculous cameo appearances by current and former colleagues.  The short led into a fifteen minute “this is your life” -style piece about Pickard’s career and such.

Richards became a blogger.

The tribute short below was produced by Jennifer “Jaye” Watson, shot by Kenny Hamilton and Richard Crabbe and edited by Crabbe. It’s full of insider references, including but not limited to

– the “trade” decades ago that sent Mark Winne from WXIA to WSB and Pickard from WSB to WXIA

– mix-minus audio, the absence of which creates an aggravating echo in a reporter’s earpiece

– the addled producer (WXIA EP Ben Mayer), whose show is teetering out of control, time-wise

– writing clichés easily embraced by our industry and loathed by Pickard.

The cast, in order of appearance, are Jeff Dore, Jill Becker, Watson, Richards, Jeff Hullinger, Mayer, Bill Liss, Mark Winne and — a surprise cameo.  Wait for it.

14 thoughts on “Goofus and Gallant

  1. juanita driggs

    Dear Goofus,

    Gallant’s send off from Channel 2 before going next door was much like Goofus’ send off at Channel 5…little fanfare. That’s okay. For you, Goofus, the second time will be the charm. The important thing that applies to both Goofus and Gallant is that you always seem take the high road and conduct your careers with aplomb. (Isn’t that a great word?)

  2. Long gone..

    Hey –

    At least you got muffins !!
    I got nuttin !!

    I always suspected the grass was greener across the tuner… now I know.. tell Picard I’ll miss him too.

    Doug… you two were just different, you got a box full of Emmys too ya know..


  3. John Arenberg

    Ted Simmons an erratic hitter? Eight-time All-Star. Six times among the league’s top 10 hitters. Career .285 batting average. Among top switch hitters for career home runs. Bear in mind he was a catcher, a demanding position. Please show proper worship to one of the great Cardinals.

    1. live apt fire Post author

      I think Simmons got more lifetime hits — over 2000 — than any other switch-hitting catcher. I didn’t show it here, but I do properly worship Simmons. On my old guy baseball team, I wear his #23 in tribute. When he was eligible for the hall of fame, he got only 17 votes (or something like that), and thus didn’t qualify for subsequent ballots. In my mind, he was a fine player, but was quickly forgotten. That’s kinda the parallel I tried to draw.

  4. DChandley

    Enjoyed the tribute video, but I am concerned that many folks that I have looked up to are now retired. Could it be that I am one of the “old guys”. How did that happen? Reveal in the good life Mr. Pickard, and nice job Doug, your wit is appreciated.

  5. jimmyjohn

    Dear Doug

    A little bitter. Maybe it’s time to get over it. I enjoy your work, but maybe you earned what you got?

    1. live apt fire Post author

      Shot in the WXIA parking lot one morning this summer. Watson rallied the WSB folk for an 8am crew call, and finished shooting before Pickard was due to show up at 9. Pickard didn’t know about it until the day he retired. I wanted to use a trident instead of a six-shooter, but failed to come up with a trident.

  6. R. Crabbe (not that one)

    Watching that half way across country made me laugh out loud. I grew up watching these fine people work both on the air and behind the scenes. Well played!!!

  7. Kay Flowers

    I LOVE the video send-off! Great job all. Oh, I miss Marc … and Mrs. Marc. Miss the rest of you, too, for that matter.


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