For the last 22 years, iconic Seattle broadcaster Tony Miner has been driving to KIRO or another radio station nearly every day from the Skagit Valley to deliver the news. And after logging about 800,000 miles, he figures it's time to give the car a break.
The award-winning broadcast journalist told listeners on the Ron and Don Show Wednesday that it would be his last full-time day on the air. But whatever you do, don't call it retirement.
"I look upon it as a transition to more of a part-time thing here, filling in across the board, doing some commercial work, and just not doing the five day a week grind and coming down all the way from the Miner Ranch in the Skagit Valley every day."
He's certainly earned a break. Tony has been behind the microphone for some major news stories for over three decades. So which one is the biggest? Tony says the countless hours on air during the 9/11 attacks are probably the most memorable. But they weren't easy.
"You're glad you're on the air, but it's difficult when you're dealing with death and destruction. It's very hard to stay focused and very hard to stay polished because sometimes your emotions can get the best of you."
Working with Tony, you'd never know he's won scores of national and regional awards for his work. And rather than tooting his own horn, he says he's most proud of the national Edward R. Murrow award for KIRO Radio's Big Story at 6 news show, selected the nation's best daily news program in 2008. Tony anchored the ambitious hour-long show and represented the team at the prestigious Murrow Awards ceremony, the Oscars of the news business.
"I got to go back to New York City, stand on the stage at the Grand Hyatt in midtown Manhattan with people like Katie Couric and Brian Williams and others, and accept the award for the best newscast in America radio large market for the whole team that was working on it...I'm very proud of that."
Despite all the big stories and important people he's covered over the years, Tony says it's the simpler moments and people that have impacted him the most. Like the time they helped keep an elderly woman company until she could get freed from being trapped in a garage during a huge snowstorm, or raising money for foster kids during the annual Holiday Magic fundraiser. Or profiling someone like Michael Reagan, the local artist who donates his hand drawn portraits of fallen soldiers to their families.
Tony is one of the rare ones in the broadcasting business who spend their entire career in one city, let alone their home town. But he never imagined it would play out like it has.
"Let me say that when I was sitting backstage at Evergreen High School reading school announcements and playing Black Sabbath and Grand Funk and we called it KEHS for Evergreen High School, I had no idea I'd be sitting here today with you guys doing this."
As for the future, Tony will continue to be heard on KIRO Radio, spending more time with his beloved wife on their boat and doting on his new grandson, Evan Anthony. But remember, it's not retirement.
"I'm not going away, I'm not calling it semi-retirement. I'm sort of transitioning to doing less. I'm looking forward to it."