‘I’ve been blessed’: Channel 9′s Vanessa Echols announces her retirement after 40 years in news

ORLANDO, Fla. — Channel 9 anchor Vanessa Echols announced Thursday that she will retire next month after 40 years in broadcast journalism.

Echols joined Channel 9 as a reporter in 1992 and was promoted to anchor in 1997. She will anchor her final newscast May 27.


“This has been a hard decision, but also the right decision for me professionally and personally,” she said. “I’ve been blessed to have a 40-year career in the television news business, 30 of those years here in Central Florida. So now just feels like the right time to say goodbye to my television news career.”

Echols said she is eager to spend more time with her parents after she retires.

Photos: Vanessa Echols through the years

“Personally, my father turned 90 this month, so retirement will allow me the time and opportunity to be more available to him and my mother,” she said. “Central Florida will always have a special place in my heart.”

Her work in journalism has earned her three Suncoast Emmy awards and a national award for her podcast “Colorblind: Race Across Generations.”

Watch: Vanessa Echols hosts ‘Getting Real about Central Florida’s Black history’

“Words cannot express the respect and admiration we have for Vanessa,” said Paul Briggs, the station’s vice president and general manager. “She has impacted so many people throughout the years with her journalism and community involvement. We will miss her greatly and wish her all the health and happiness in retirement.”

Echols and anchor Greg Warmoth spent 15 years anchoring together in the mornings, becoming the longest-tenured anchor team in Orlando television history.

“We shared the anchor desk but much more than that,” Warmoth said. “She has guided me through difficult challenges with steady, heartfelt and faith-based advice. I watched in amazement as she battled and beat breast cancer and took that victory as a way to help others facing similar health scares.”

Echols founded Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach, a nonprofit that provides emotional, financial and spiritual support to thousands of patients and their families.

Watch: Vanessa Echols interviews Mable Butler, ‘the matriarch of Black politics in Orlando’

“I will be forever grateful to the viewers of Central Florida who welcomed me into their homes each day and allowed me the privilege of telling their stories throughout the years,” she said.

Watch her on Channel 9 Eyewitness News at 4.

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Read: 9 questions for Vanessa Echols

Jason Kelly

Jason Kelly, WFTV.com

Jason Kelly joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2014. He serves as the station's Digital Executive Producer.