Back in May, longtime CBS Colorado — KCNC-TV, Channel 4 — news anchor Jim Benemann announced his retirement, bringing a close to his 44 years in TV news, including 36 years in the Denver market.
Denver’s Benemann has served as the face of CBS Colorado’s evening news since 2002, anchoring the program alongside Karen Leigh since 2008.
KCNC sports anchor Michael Spencer, who began working at CBS Colorado in June 2016, will replace Benemann as anchor of the CBS Colorado news at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.
In December, Gary Shapiro, who began anchoring 9NEWS Mornings in 1989, retired. He intends to stay on part-time, and will occasionally be seen on the air for some stories and specials, 9NEWS reported.
In his retirement, Benemann is looking forward to spending more time with his wife, Karen, their eight children and five grandchildren, and also traveling at a more leisurely pace than reporting the news demands. With only about three months left before he retires, Colorado Community Media visited with Benemann to learn more about his career and retirement plans.
Q&A with Jim Benemann
What will retirement look like for you?
Like a full-time move up to the mountains. We have a little place in Eagle that we really enjoy. We’ll be spending a lot of time up there.
But also, we have some kids here in Denver … we’ll be visiting.
We have not done an awful lot of travel. It’d be nice to go places where you can be free and easy.
One place we want to get to is New Zealand. You need three weeks to discover (everything there). And Slovenia is an undiscovered gem.
What are you most proud of as you review your television career?
I would say the No. 1 accomplishment was working hard enough — and (being) dedicated enough — so people in Colorado trusted what I was reporting on and felt I had journalistic integrity. Someone who could be trusted with the information, and (when) they tuned in, got it straight down the middle. (Being) someone the audience could trust (to) get information fairly presented and professionally gathered.
What were some of your favorite assignments?
One of the most rewarding was the 40th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. My dad was a tank sergeant in World War II. He went into Normandy on June 8, led a tank crew all the way to Czechoslovakia. Many of the GIs who were there during the war returned (for the anniversary). A big contingent went to battlefields, cemeteries and the small towns they had fought their way to get to. Seeing how the locals had this tremendous love and admiration for what the GIs had done over there was really moving.
When I was covering Washington, D.C., I was only 26 (or) 27, and sitting down with people like Sen. Gary Hart. I was working for all the Gannett-owned stations. We had some clout. What a tremendous opportunity to meet some of these people.
And when I was at Channel 9, I covered the Sydney Olympics.
Let’s say you’d like to take a mulligan on something in your career. What would it be?
For my last week, the station probably has been saving up all the bloopers that they’ll roll out again.
What are some of the changes you’ve seen come to Denver?
The explosive population growth and the issues it presents. When my wife and I first moved here after college in 1980, it was so much sleepier than it is today. Denver’s gone from a big, manageable city to a really big metropolis with a lot of pressing issues.
What was rewarding about being involved with the community?
It could be reading Dr. Seuss to some kids, black-tie fundraisers, Kiwanis lunches. If the calendar was open, I always said yes. I met some of the most generous and cool people, whether at a luncheon or a big gala, … who make Colorado what it is.