Sally Wiggin officially retires from WTAE
Sally Wiggin has officially gone off the air.
After nearly four decades of broadcasting on WTAE Channel 4, Wiggin signed off Friday.
It wasn't without people noticing.
Wiggin's Twitter feed and Facebook page has been bursting with well wishes from friends, fans and her current and former colleagues in the journalism industry.
Don't you worry @sallywiggin_ you will not soon be forgotten! We'll follow you to twitter or wherever you choose to hang out! You can't get rid of us that easily!— Teri Hirko (@TeriHirko) November 30, 2018
Sally Wiggin is an icon with a living legacy of generosity, kindness, humility and tenacity. Her love of animals is only rivaled by her love for Pittsburgh. I'm blessed to call her a friend. I hope you'll send her a note on her retirement tomorrow. We're lucky she is ours.— Virginia Montanez (@JanePitt) November 29, 2018
"My friends have asked me if this will be bittersweet, and I tell them, 'No, I have wanted this for years.' The bittersweet part is that a few of my coworkers at the station have been there with me the entire three decades on this journey, and I will miss seeing them," she told the Tribune-Review on Friday. "The other part is I will have to adjust to not having the rhythm of work. There is that rhythm that you have when you work full time."
She said she has been adjusting to that somewhat, having worked mostly from home for the past year, but there still were deadlines and work commitments to meet.
"I will still do voiceovers and other regular projects," said Wiggin, who is shooting an episode for "Chronicle," the station's magazine style show later today. "And I would love to guest lecture and be involved in other things on and off the air.
"It will take me weeks to respond to everyone who has wished me well," says Wiggin, who made public her decision during WTAE Black & Gold Primetime special, prior to the Dec. 4 Monday Night Pittsburgh Steelers game.
"I will miss Sally in the newsroom and on the air," Jim Parsons, WTAE-TV news director, said Friday in a statement. "I will miss our spirited conversations about 'Chronicle' and her honest input about making those programs the best that they can be. I am so proud of her work on 'Chronicle.'"
Parsons said he looks forward to continuing his friendship with Wiggin.
"I'll probably see her more often now than I have in recent months. I can't wait to see what exciting new challenges she accomplishes in her next life chapter."
Before Wiggins turns the page on that next chapter, she shot her final episode of "Chronicle," at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Oakland, and talked about her career with the Tribune-Review.
In this time of Me Too, an international movement against sexual harassment and assault, Wiggin said there were a few times when men hugged her when she didn't want to be hugged when she was working in Birmingham, Ala., but added she was fortunate to not have to endure sexual harassment or assault.
She said she doesn't feel her gender held her back from being given a job, and that it helped her earn the position as co-host of WTAE's "Black and Gold Primetime," a show highlighting the Pittsburgh Steelers games and players. She said the station wanted a woman in that position, and it was well known that Wiggin had always wanted to be a sportscaster.
It turned out to be one of the favorite parts of her career, said Wiggin, tearing up a little bit.
"I have been lucky," she said. "WTAE gave me a chance. I really love what I do."
When asked about her most memorable story, she didn't hesitate.
"September 11th (2001)," she said. "And when we went to Somerset County for a story on the 15th anniversary, I cried. Every time I go to that sacred place, I cry because of what those passengers did. They were heroic, and they have the most amazing families."
Had she been in an anchor position last month, she said the Tree of Life tragedy on Oct. 27 would rank No. 1.
Wiggin says she will most miss the opportunity to interview people.
"When you get to interview someone, you get to find out what makes someone tick," she said. "You get outside yourself. I would like people to remember that I tried to be fair and accurate in my reporting, and the work I have done for our local non profits. I was honored to work with so many talented journalists."
Wiggin was open about her many struggles with alcohol and her diagnosis of heart disease. She plans to stay in Pittsburgh where there are the best hospitals and doctors, she said.
"Alcohol has been a problem for me, but I have made many efforts at recovery and I am still in recovery," she said.
Spending pretty much her entire career in Pittsburgh wasn't her initial plan, but it became the road she took. She was offered a job in New York, but chose to stay here.
"I will always wonder about the road not taken," she said. "I won't call it regret. I would never have gotten to cover the Steelers or meet the Rooney family or get involved with so many wonderful non-profits in Pittsburgh."
Her final show -- "Chronicle: Pittsburgh's Holilday Traditions" -- will air sometime in December.
She said her message on that night will be: "For all of us at Chronicle… thanks for watching."
Wiggin joined WTAE in 1980, and, in January 1981, became co-anchor of the weekend news, a position she held until November 1986, when she was named anchor on the weeknight newscasts. She anchored the 11 p.m. news for 16 years and the 6 p.m. news for 22 years. During her legendary career, Wiggin has earned numerous awards including a George Foster Peabody Award, regional Edward R. Murrow Award, a National Headliner Award, and the Board of Governors Award for the Mid-Atlantic Emmys, and she was inducted into the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Throughout her career, Wiggin has been a powerful advocate for nonprofit organizations including Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, The Caring Foundation, the Humane Animal Rescue, the American Heart Association, the Women's Center & Shelter, the Mentoring Partnership, and Gateway Rehabilitation.
"WTAE has given me such a gift with 'Chronicle' and all those years working there," she said. "I have covered some amazing stories and worked with the most professional news and sports men and women in the world, and I thank the Hearst Corporation for everything. I am extremely grateful."
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-853-5062 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Jharrop_Trib.