Glenn Stevens retires from WFMJ after 49 years
For nearly five decades, Glenn Stevens has been one of the preeminent voices and faces in the Mahoning Valley. His 49 years at one station is a symbol of longevity you just don’t see these days in the news business.
“I think back on 49 years, every single day has been different,” Stevens said. “A new story every day.”
Glenn started out in radio, working in Milwaukee and Houston. He worked with the Texas Radio Network and covered Apollo missions from the Houston Space Center. His career in Youngstown began in 1971, working on the radio side of WFMJ. In 1990, the radio station was sold and Glenn moved over to the TV side to anchor the 6 and 11 o’clock news.
“When you think about it, back in the 70’s I started on manual typewriters, we didn’t have computers, we didn’t have WiFi, we didn’t have internet, we didn’t have texts, we didn’t have email, we didn’t have cell phones, we didn’t have GPS navigation, you had to go out and dig up that story,” Stevens said.
Storytelling was a passion for this award-winning journalist. From Black Monday to the rise and fall of Jim Traficant, Glenn was part of every major news story in the Valley.
“When you think about journalism it’s sort of like a painter,” Stevens said. “A painter starts out with a blank canvas and you basically start every day with a blank canvas and you have to decide what elements you need, what is going to be the first word you write, what’s going to be the first image you show, what’s going to be the first sound that you use and so you bring all those elements together to tell the story.”
After 49 years, Glenn has decided to hang up his microphone and call it a career. He’s also doing so during one of the biggest news stories many of us have ever seen.
“What’s really ironic is, the pandemic right now is more than 300 days old. How often does a story stay in the headlines that long, never, I mean it’s just amazing that this story has carried on,” he said.
Sitting on his couch and looking back on a remarkable career, Glenn says one of the most rewarding aspects was being part of the Children’s Miracle Network telethon.
“I think I hosted for something like 15 years and it was just a wonderful thing,” Stevens said. “The Children’s Miracle Network was an annual thing that raised money for the Children’s Hospital and we would go out and do special vignettes on a particular child, a particular family. There were just some inspiring stories we did with families and young children.”
If you were an early riser, you probably caught Glenn, along with his wife Regina, every Friday on WFMJ Today for a segment called Stir It Up.
“It’s a lot of work, you have to come up with a recipe, you have to go out and do the shopping, you have to do all the preparation the night before and whatever you are making, you have to make two of,” Stevens said. “You have to show one, how you are making it and then show what the finished product looks like so it was a lot of work. My wife Regina, she’s an excellent cook and she can finesse a recipe like nobody I know and so we would get up at 4 o’clock in the morning on Friday and we would come in and do Stir it Up on WFMJ Today and we did over 500 – 600 segments and never repeated a recipe.”
Glenn was also proud of a spinoff series called Kids can Cook. It was through a partnership with Second Harvest Foodbank. The organization wanted to educate kids about nutrition, shopping and cooking.
“It was a terrific show, we got fifth graders and we would take them to the store and they would do shopping and they would learn how to read labels and learn about nutrition and then cook the meal,” Stevens said. “At the end of the show, we would all sit down and eat the meal. It was a shame the funding ran out. It was a great show.”
Glenn is a man of many talents. He’s very active in community theater, does a ton of volunteer work and has been on the board of directors for a number of organizations.
“I think being part of the community is, I mean first of all you are recognized, become well known and to lend anything you can to a good cause,” he said. “I’ve served on multiple boards and they have all been worthwhile and rewarding in what we did. Everything from Ronald McDonald House to Lake to River Girl Scouts to the community theaters, the Oakland center, Youngstown Playhouse. Those are just things you want to do to be part of the community and in some way give back to your community.”
Another title Glenn is proud to carry, cancer survivor. He was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1983.
“The surgeon was able to do this procedure where they go in and they take everything out but they save the arm,” Stevens said. “I mean I lost my shoulder, may clavicle, my collarbone and the bone in my upper arm. A lot of people don’t realize I lost the use of my left arm because I have no shoulder, this is a prosthesis that I take off every night. What he did was amazing because I still have strength, I still have the same temperature, still have the same color to take out all of that and be able to, I mean the only thing I can’t do is raise it, I mean it’s just amazing what he did.”
Through it all, Glenn never backed down. A hard-nosed aggressive reporter who hopes to be remembered as a trusted journalist.
“Having integrity in your reporting and being fair and always trying to look at both sides of a story,” Stevens said. “I think those are the things that I would hope that they would look back and say yeah, he did a good job, he was fair, he had integrity and he was somebody I could trust.”
Glenn says a big part of having a successful career is working with good people along the way.
“There are so many vital people behind the scenes, people they never see, names they never hear,” he said. “We have a tremendous group of talented videographers, award winning videographers that create those images for us, you work hand in hand to bring that together. You have your producers, directors, graphic artists. A newscast is the talents of a lot of people, not just the one’s you see.”
Glenn’s next chapter includes more time with community theater, traveling to see his six grandkids and of course, spending more time with his wife Regina.
My wonderful wife Regina. She is a smart lady. She’s a talented lady and she’s just been my rock. I mean she brings joy to my life and I look forward to spending time with her and I’m sure she’ll have a honey do list for me.
Maybe this list, won’t include a deadline!
Congratulations Glenn, from all of us here at 21-WFMJ.