One of Mobile’s iconic news anchors has announced he’ll be calling it quits at the end of January 2019 after 33 years at the news desk.

Bob Grip announced to co-workers last Friday he’s retiring early next year. His media career has spanned 48 years, but what he’s most known for around the Azalea City is his more than three decades anchoring WALA’s newscasts.

Grip got his start in radio 48 years ago as a disc jockey in his home state of Connecticut. He moved to television and worked in Mobile, then in Portsmouth, Va., before being offered the WALA anchor’s job in 1984. At that time the station was Mobile’s NBC affiliate.

In a press release announcing his retirement plans, Grip listed meeting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1988 for a documentary among his most memorable journalistic accomplishments. He also reported from Kuwait in 1993 following the Gulf War.

“It was always my dream to work in broadcasting, even as a teenager. It still makes me laugh to think a guidance counselor tried to discourage me, telling me to ‘Do something normal,’” he said in the press release. “I wanted to do extraordinary things, but never imagined I would get to meet presidents, talk with a pope and travel around the country and the world. 

“By far, though, the most rewarding part of my career in journalism has been serving our community. I have been honored to work side-by-side with many wonderful people from across the Gulf Coast. I hope to continue to share what I’ve learned in service to others.”

Over the years Grip has been recognized for his work by not only his peers in broadcast journalism, but also law enforcement and education. Both the FBI and Mobile County Sheriff’s Department have lauded his work, and Grip’s weekly “Fugitive Files” series has run for 24 years and been credited with helping law enforcement apprehend hundreds of suspects.

The Mobile County Public School System also recognized Grip with the Academic Leadership award for his work with the Hi-Q high school academic competition. And for more than 25 years he has taught journalism at Spring Hill College.

Grip has overseen numerous changes in journalism in general, and has even embraced and thrived in the new digital age. He’s also seen his station transition from an NBC affiliate to a Fox affiliate, along with a move from downtown to a more central location near Hank Aaron Stadium.

WALA General Manager Gary Yoder says the station will have a difficult time replacing Grip.

“For decades, Bob has been a pillar of journalism in our community,” Yoder said in a statement. “He has been the one that many have turned to, in good times and bad, to deliver the news over the years. His retirement leaves some very big shoes to fill. Our search is already underway to find someone who will report the day’s news in the tradition that Bob has established.

“I intend to enjoy this final year of broadcasting with Bob. I hope that viewers will enjoy every day with Bob in the same way I will. He may be retiring, but he will always be a part of the WALA family. Bob will be missed.”
 
92ZEW makes on-air changes
WZEW announced this week it is expanding nighttime host Mystic Marge’s show by two hours, replacing Catt Sirten’s nightly “Radio Avalon,” which will now get its own digital stream.

Mystic Marge’s show will now run weekdays from 6 p.m. to midnight, while “Radio Avalon” will go online 24/7 on a new radio stream the station is launching. “Catt’s Sunday Jazz Brunch” will remain on-air Sundays.

Director of Programming Tim Camp said “The on-air listener landscape is changing along with musical tastes as younger generations get older. We thought it makes more sense to offer Catt’s show on a 24-hour basis online.”