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Bill Gephardt is retiring from KUTV-Channel 2. But the popular "Get Gephardt" reports will continue.
Matt Gephardt, currently his father's producer, will be his successor. He's already appearing on 6 p.m. newscasts; he'll join his father at 10 p.m. in the transition period leading up to Bill Gephardt's Nov. 24 finale.
"Television has been fabulous to me," Bill Gephardt, 58, told The Salt Lake Tribune. "I just feel like I'm ready to go. I'm fine financially. I'll find something else to do. I don't know what, but I'll find it."
He isn't leaving altogether he'll remain on the station's payroll to report specials and projects.
Gephardt's retirement marks the end of a 35-year TV news career that started in Lima, Ohio (where he made $96 a week), and continued through Fort Wayne, Ind., and Los Angeles before he came to Utah in 1997.
"As I step away from Channel 2, I really don't think I'm going to move," he said. "I don't know that I've ever lived anywhere I liked so much."
Matt Gephardt, 30, is also not a newcomer to TV news or KUTV, where he's been working since he was 17. He had summer jobs operating the teleprompter and robotic cameras, and full-time jobs as a photographer, editor, producer and reporter.
In September, KUTV Vice President and General Manager Steve Carlston and News Director Jennifer Dahl hired Matt Gephardt back from KTVX-Channel 4, where he'd gone in April.
"If I didn't think Matt had it, we wouldn't have done this," said Dahl, who was once Bill Gephardt's producer herself.
Bill Gephardt's personal style taking on the big guys to help viewers has made him one of the most recognizable faces on Utah TV over the past 13 years. During that time, KUTV has risen from a distant No. 2 in the late-news ratings to near-parity with longtime leader KSL.
"Bill has been the consummate professional. I'm a huge fan," Carlston said. "The reason he is the most well-known reporter in this market is because he communicates person-to-person. Matt's the same way."
Gephardt's retirement recalls longtime local weatherman Mark Eubank's exit in 2006 after 40 years at KUTV and KSL. Like Eubank, he'll be replaced by his son.
And like Kevin Eubank, Matt Gephardt knows he'll be compared to his father, and some will question how he got the job. "I've been battling that my whole career," he said. "People used to call me 'Neleh,' because someone with no experience all of a sudden has this job." If you need an explanation of that nickname, you should know that Neleh Dennis was a KUTV features reporter briefly after she finished second on "Survivor" in 2002.
"I fully expect to be graded on a very hard curve, " Matt Gephardt said. "But I hope in a couple of years, people will say, 'He did learn a few things from the old man. And he can do this, too.' "
Carlston added: "At some point, [Bill]'s going to be referred to as Matt's dad."
Saying goodbye to Bill Gephardt
P KUTV is planning a big farewell for Bill Gephardt, with highlights from his 13 years in Utah airing during 10 p.m. newscasts on Nov. 22, 23 and 24.