After nearly three decades on Pittsburgh television, Ray Tannehill is calling it a career.
Tannehill's last day at the KDKA anchor desk will be today, a week earlier than previously announced. No reason was given for the change in plans. It is expected that Tannehill may say goodbye to viewers before the conclusion of the noon newscast.
"We will certainly recognize Ray's contributions to this station throughout our news day," Jeff Weissbart, Channel 2's news director, said yesterday. Tannehill joined KDKA in April 1976 as a special projects correspondent and became an anchor in July of that year.
In his time at the station, Tannehill has anchored or co-anchored the 11 p.m., 6 p.m. and noon news. At one point he also did a half-hour newscast on KDKA Radio.
In his 23 years at the station, he's covered political conventions, the crash of USAir Flight 427 in his native Beaver County, a fact-finding mission to Israel and Lebanon, and the U.S. invasion of Grenada. He, an assistant news director and photographer spent 10 days in the then-Soviet Union in 1988, preparing a series of news reports.
Tannehill, a New Brighton High School graduate who once was an anchor for KGO Radio and TV in San Francisco, worked for Channel 11 for six years. In March 1976, the station failed to renew his contract, a move that took Tannehill by surprise.
Within two weeks, however, KDKA announced it had hired him. One of his first assignments was to co-anchor the 11 p.m. news with Bill Burns. He later worked with Bill's daughter, Patti. Tannehill also has shared the anchor desk with Stacy Smith, Jennifer Antkowiak and others.
When Tannehill suffered a mild stroke and missed five weeks of work in 1991, he was inundated with hundreds of cards and letters from viewers offering their prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery.
Tannehill initially had planned to sign off as anchor in June 1997, but he and the station negotiated a series of extensions.
Although Tannehill is Pittsburgh's senior anchorman and has one of the most recognizable faces in town, he is known as a private man who doesn't seem to enjoy the spotlight. He and his wife, Catherine, who once lived on Mount Washington, now reside near Beaver Falls.