Wood, who has been with WCYB for nearly half a century, told viewers on News 5 This Morning that it was a difficult decision to make, but said “it is time.”
“I cannot tell you how much that you mean to me, you all who have watched my work here all these years,” Wood said. “All the wonderful thoughts and prayers, notes of encouragement and times of fun and laughter mean so much to me. You folks are a large part of what made this such a tough decision to make.”
Wood has been a mainstay at News 5 for decades, and began anchoring the early morning newscast in 1979. In recent years, he’s hosted segments such as “Lunch With Johnny” and “Johnny’s Fishing Report.”
During his tenure as morning news anchor, Wood delivered some of the highest ratings in television history, not only for a morning show, but for any locally produced program.
In March 2012, Wood was honored with The Silver Circle Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) during the annual Mid-South Regional Emmy Awards ceremony. This award is given to broadcasters who have had a significant impact on their communities for more than 25 years.
“While we certainly wish he’d stay longer, we understand his decision and respect it,” said Randall Bongarten, CEO of Bonten Media Group, owner of WCYB-TV. “We wish Johnny and Mary the very best in retirement. His contributions to our station and community are countless and we will honor him over the next several weeks — on and off the air.”
News 5 WCYB Vice President and General Manager Jack D. Dempsey said viewers will miss Wood.
“Johnny Wood has served the communities of this region for over 40 years as a journalist, weatherman and anchor. During that time he’s started our day with what we need to know, preparing us for what’s ahead and being available to the viewers who have come to regard him in many ways as a family member,” Dempsey said.
Despite his retirement, Wood hasn’t ruled out future projects with News 5 WCYB. He plans to travel for a while, then decide what’s next.
“We’ll miss Johnny here at WCYB,” Dempsey said, “but he’ll leave knowing that he’ll always be a part of our station and the News 5 team.”
WCYB-TV will celebrate Wood’s career with “Farewell to Johnny,” a special live audience edition of News 5 at noon from The Paramount Center for the Arts, on Friday, Dec. 21. Seating will be limited, and tickets must be reserved in advance. More details and ticket information can be found on WCYB.com.
It was also announced Monday that Preston Ayres will co-anchor with Tarah Taylor once Wood retires. Ayres will join the News 5 This Morning team Nov. 19, co-anchoring the 4:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. segment with Taylor. Ayres will continue in that role until Wood retires in late December.