The veteran Channel 4 reporter and weekend anchor — usual signoff: "Thanks for having us in" — has left the building in Burbank. He's calling it retirement to the Big Easy after 35 years at KNBC. From Chatman's farewell note:
I have decided to trade my weekend anchor chair and my weekday reporter's microphone for a seat along a Louisiana bayou and a mint julep.
Forty years in the trenches is enough---five years with Screen Gems in New Orleans and thirty-five years with NBC.
I earned my stripes in the Deep South during a painful time in history by breaking the racial color barrier in TV News. It left me with deep and lasting scars which I trust I have worn with pride, dignity, and professionalism. Our business evolved over the years from film and black bags to videotape cameras to computer keyboards and hard-drives. What has been a noble profession is also a very profitable business. It's our job to continue to accept the onslaught of change, but also fight to preserve the principles we cherish as journalists.
As some of you know, Hurricane Katrina claimed several of my family members. Rebuilding my home and those of my extended family members will now be a top priority in my retirement years.
You are a very talented team. Remain a team. Your talents will see you through the tough times. And do me a favor, please ! Have more FUN with what you do.
Chatman began at Channel 4 in the era when Tom Snyder and Tom Brokaw were local anchors, Ross Porter and Bryant Gumbel did sports, and reporters like John Marshall made the station a major news force in L.A.
* Newsroom note from VP of News Bob Long:
Furnell Chatman arrived on vacation Christmas Week in New Orleans, and after some thought, figured maybe he'd just stay there. Thus a legend in Los Angeles television news retires from the fray, or at least the part of it that involves KNBC.
It is very much like Chat to act quickly and decisively after private reflection. He has given us more than 35 years and we would be shameless not to be grateful for that. We are shameless, however, and will insist on more - a proper goodbye when Furnell is able to accomodate us.
You will be hearing from Furnell directly, and I will have more to say about this over a Sazerac or two.
From a TV news colleague:
Just a note on Mr. Chatman's retirement. I've been back home in Southern California for nearly 12 years now working at ABC7. From the first time I met Furnell out in the field, to today, he has always been supportive and a great source of history. Here's a man who broke color barriers. And in reporting on one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history, Katrina, he stayed professional even though the death toll included members of his family.
He's a class act and will be sorely missed by us who respect and admire him for his courage to push through the color barriers that kept many talented men and women away from the profession back in the 60's and 70's, to today, still encouraging men and women of color to pursue this profession of ours. In broadcast and in print. He's a good man. He's a good person.