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Veteran local TV news anchor is signing off

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Dick Knipfing on the news set at KRQE-TV, Channel 13. After 51 years and stints at all three local network affiliates, Knipfing is retiring at the end of July. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Dick Knipfing on the news set at KRQE-TV, Channel 13. After 51 years and stints at all three local network affiliates, Knipfing is retiring at the end of July. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

One recent summer day, KRQE-TV general manager Bill Anderson received a text message from long-time station anchor Dick Knipfing:

“I’m out walking my dog, and for the first time I’m thinking I don’t want to come in tonight. Maybe it’s time to talk about retiring.”

Anderson immediately shot back: “Get a cat! I’ll talk you out of retiring when I see you.”

Nope. Not this time. After 51 years, Knipfing, the elder statesman of local TV news, will be signing off after Channel 13′s 10 p.m. newscast on July 31. He will be replaced by anchor Dean Staley, who, Anderson said, was being groomed to slide into Knipfing’s 10 p.m. chair after Knipfing no longer wanted to sit there.

“I’ll figure out ways to get him back in the building and doing some work with us,” Anderson said Tuesday. “He has been so good for us on the inside as a leader, a journalist, editorial manager, writer, fact checker and cheerleader – stuff that viewers on the outside never get to see.”

Knipfing was taking it all in stride. “I’m 71 years old. It’s just time,” he told the Journal. “I’ve got a lot of energy and I’m in good health and I just want to participate more fully in life. Being a TV news guy, the daily deadline stress and pressure are unending. That’s the way it should be, but I’m tired of it. It’s time for me to move on and a younger guy to move in.”

Knipfing, who has also worked for the news operations at KOB-TV Channel 4, and KOAT-TV Channel 7, is finishing his career where it began.

Originally from New York, Knipfing was a cadet at the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., but a diagnosis of arthritis put the kabosh on that. He had been accepted at the University of New Mexico the previous year, so in 1961 he moved to Albuquerque, where relatives were living.

Just before his junior year, the then-English major saw a posting at the UNM job placement office for a reporter/photographer at KGGM-TV (now KRQE), with no experience necessary.

Dick Knipfing at KOB-TV circa 1980, monitors an NBC news segment hosted by David Brinkley. "The basics of gathering and reporting news are exactly the same," Knipfing said Tuesday, "but the technology has changed immensely." (Albuquerque Journal File)

Dick Knipfing at KOB-TV circa 1980, monitors an NBC news segment hosted by David Brinkley. “The basics of gathering and reporting news are exactly the same,” Knipfing said Tuesday, “but the technology has changed immensely.” (Albuquerque Journal File)

He became part of the four-person news department that operated out of a metal garage at the back of the station’s property. The full-time gig earned him $60 a week.

Journalism became his focus and in the years that followed Knipfing was recruited to work at the other local TV stations, often multiple times.

In 2000, he returned for his third and final time to Channel 13, then under different management and name.

“My last 14 years here have been the most fulfilling professionally for me,” he said. “I was glad to be a part of the amazing transformation the station has made, going from third place in the 10 p.m. newscast year after year and decade after decade, to now being the leader in that time slot. It’s a really solid news organization that takes on difficult challenges. The anchor is part of that, but not the heart of it.”

So what does retirement hold for Knipfing? Certainly more time with family, he said.

He and his wife, Charlene, who is retired, have been married going on 49 years.

In addition to their own children, they have three grandchildren and recently became great-grandparents.

“I’m not a guy with a lot of hobbies,” Knipfing confessed. “I love working in my backyard and my Catholic faith is very important to me, but the truth is I haven’t lined it all out. I really don’t know what I’m going to do.”

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