One Year Later, Scott Clark Has No Regrets About Leaving WABC

Today marks one year since the popular Scott Clark completed his farewell tour at WABC/Channel 7. The sports anchor says the decision to leave was solely his—with a major assist from his wife Heather. 

“The station was fantastic about it,” Clark tells FishbowlNY from his Michigan lakefront house.

So instead of taking the proverbial gold watch at 25 years of service, Clark retired, a decision that he contemplated for several years. 

“In the beginning of my career, I had always thought of 50 [when] I’m going to retire,” Clark admits. 

But, once Clark hit the big 5-0, he was still under contract. By the time that deal expired, Clark was 52. However, the veteran sports anchor wasn’t mentally prepared to step away.

“There was another deal on the table, and it was a very good deal,” Clark says.

As the five-year pact was winding down, Clark didn’t have the cold feet. He was ready.

“I was getting pretty good thoughts…my mind, body, and soul were officially saying ‘I think this is it. We’re done,’” Clark recalls.

Once the days dwindled to a precious few, Clark knew there would be no false alarm this time. But as early as baseball’s Spring Training in 2009, being sports anchor was starting to take its toll.

“There was a thought in my mind before I left,” Clark says. “I can’t wait until I get back [to New York].”

But Clark wasn’t a well-known figure on television sets because he “mailed it in.” His passion for sports shined on a nightly basis. He says each newscast provides excitement, whether it was the writing, anchoring, or his special features.

“But there were certain things that were beginning to wear on me, physically and mentally,” Clark admits. “It was basically the 30-day runs of the Yankee post-season. And it started affecting me.”

He recalls the Knicks and Rangers championship runs of 1994, exciting for the moment, but stressful to cover. 

“We worked over a month and didn’t have a day off,” Clark says. “We didn’t seem to have an hour off.”

The tough schedule and his advancing age ultimately led Clark to walk away with no regrets.

“You’re putting together five to six packages every day. You’re on the road. You do a late night show. You get two hours of sleep and then you’re on a plane…then you’re working another 16-or 18-hour day.”

One way to eliminate some of the job stress is to reduce the workload. For example, a personal request led to WCBS/Channel 2 rejiggering its sports anchors in 2009. Sam Ryan, who has since left for the MLB Network, was “cutback” to three nights, along with her CBS College Sports hosting. Otis Livingston was upgraded to four nights.

However, Clark, a TV purist, says the main anchor is a five-night-a-week gig.

“I just don’t think that works,” Clark says. “That’s not what this job description is…I couldn’t compromise the position and feel good about it.”

He says there was no offer to adjust his schedule.

“It’s a young man’s game,” Clark admits.

While Clark loved his job, he recognizes that the local newscast has changed drastically since he came on the scene at WABC in 1986.

“Sports is taking a backseat, and getting a little further back,” Clark says.

That is clearly evident at WPIX/Channel 11, which yanked its sports division. Scores are given by the news anchor in a one-minute segment at the end of the broadcast (WPIX has reinstated a per diem sportscaster on weekends). On rival Channel 5/WNYW, using sister station WWOR/Channel 9 sports anchor Russ Salzberg, the newscast ends with his brief sports report.