Return home

KELLY'S KORNER: Tribute to a local legendary news anchor

Joe Kelly
Sentinel columnist
Posted 3/19/23

Bill Worden, the local television anchorman for generations of WKTV viewers, died last week. He was 80 years old.

This item is available in full to subscribers.

KELLY'S KORNER: Tribute to a local legendary news anchor


Bill Worden, the local television anchorman for generations of WKTV viewers, died last week. He was 80 years old.

He was a local television icon, the ultimate professional, cool under pressure and a good man. Plus, he had a great voice, perfect for television and radio, which is where he started in broadcasting. 

Between his radio and television work, Bill spent nearly 50 years in broadcasting, quite the achievement. 

Many years ago we co-hosted a live event together, America’s Greatest Heart Run & Walk. He had much television experience. I had little.

“Need any help from me?” he asked before we started the show. I said I didn’t, but knew I did.  

Afterwards, he found something nice to say about how I did. He had to look hard to find something nice from that day, but he did.

Anyway, he was a guest on my television show twice last year. The first time was to promote his book, “A Kansas Love Story,” and the second time was to promote his second book, a book of poems.

“A Kansas Love Story” is a memoir, a candid one. As the title states, it is a love story about Bill meeting Janna Broadbooks, the woman he would marry.

Bill was in the Air Force - the Air Police - and stationed in Salina, Kansas at Schilling Air Force Base. One day Bill went shopping in downtown Salina, got hungry, went into Woolworth’s and sat down at the lunch counter.

(There’s a picture of the lunch counter in the book. It looks like the lunch counter that was in Utica’s Woolworth’s. They probably all looked the same.)

“I went in,” wrote Bill, “sat down near the end of the counter and grabbed a menu. I looked up and grabbed a glance at one of the waitresses. She was beautiful. In fact, I’ll be honest, the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen.”

They would eventually marry, move back to Utica and Bill would start a career in 1977 at WKTV, a career that didn’t end until his retirement in 2012.  It’s hard to believe he retired so long ago because it seems like he was on the news just the other day.

His wife Janna died on Christmas Day, 2021. She was 77. The Wordens had been married 58 years  

During the first television show we did together last year he started to cry when he talked about his wife’s death. She had cancer.

“It’s still very tough,” he said.  

This is the dedication in his memoir: “This book is dedicated to Janna, the love of my life, and to Jesus, who led me to her.”

He was a religious man, but you wouldn’t have known that by watching him do the news. In private, though, he often referred to Jesus, the Bible and quoted scripture. 

Last year — on the two shows we did together — we talked about his part-time job as a professional drummer, people he had met over the years and people he had worked with. I hope Bill had as much fun doing those shows as I did.

There are some talented people in local television. No question. But I doubt you’ll ever see another Bill Worden around here.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here