We’ll soon be seeing a lot less of Paul Meincke, the WLS-Channel 7 reporter widely respected and admired as one of Chicago television’s all-time best.
After 30 years at the ABC-owned station, Meincke is retiring from the day-to-day grind. Under an agreement expected to be signed this week, he’ll deliver occasional reports for ABC 7 on stories that interest him.
Meincke, who turns 65 next month, will be toasted by friends and co-workers September 18 — his last day of full-time employment at the station.
“Paul Meincke is the gold standard,” said veteran anchorman Ron Magers, a longtime colleague at ABC 7. “Every journalist who ever worked with him or near him could have learned valuable lessons just by watching him work. I know I did and I’m grateful for it.”
Meincke joined ABC 7 in 1985 from WEWS-TV, the ABC affiliate in Cleveland. Highlights of his three decades on the air here define the essence of general assignment reporting.
He covered the first Persian Gulf War, filing reports for all ABC-owned stations. He remained extraordinarily calm and professional when he donned a bulletproof vest and helped Chicago police resolve a hostage standoff. He clung to a tree in chilly waters when the boat he was in sank while covering a flood. He continued to broadcast live without missing a beat after lightning struck the antenna of his TV truck, sending a jolt through his microphone and up his left arm. He brought the political corruption trials of two governors — George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich — to the largest television audiences in Chicago.
“I’ve been supremely privileged to work with some of the best in the business — at a station where colleagues are like family — in a city that I consider to be the best ‘news town’ in America,” Meincke said with typical grace and generosity.
“Forty-three years in the business — the last 30 in Chicago — has gone by in a blink, and I’m ever conscious of parental wisdom: ‘Life is short. Live it to the fullest.’ With that in mind, I’m downshifting to part-time status and plan on spending most of my days pursuing great adventures — traveling with my wife, another cross-country bike ride, paddling the Mississippi from top to bottom, and backpacking on some mountain somewhere — provided my body does not pose violent objection.”
A native of Moline, Illinois, and graduate of Augustana College, Meincke began in television news at WHBF-TV, the CBS affiliate in Rock Island, Illinois, where he met and married his co-anchor, Wendy Ellis. They have four grown sons.
Meincke was honored last May with induction in the prestigious Silver Circle of the Chicago/Midwest chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Of his plans to contribute reports from time to time, Meincke added: “I’ll still be keeping my hand in news. Guess it’s in my blood.”