Sunday’s 10 p.m. newscast on WCCO is the last one for anchor Mike Binkley, who is retiring after 34 years in the business.
“It’s more or less a lifestyle decision,” Binkley told the Pioneer Press. “I’ve had 34 years in this business and it’s been entirely night, weekend and early morning shifts. It’s the nature of the business — we have to be working when other people are at home.”
“To be able to spend 34 years in this business and leave on my own terms — I’ve had so many people tell me how unusual it is to be able to leave on your own terms and be as happy as I am. I do know people who have left this business bitter. I’m not one of them.”
The biggest changes Binkley’s witnessed since taking his first TV news job in 1980 are advances in technology.
“I started when I was in a newsroom that was still using film,” he recalled. “We were typing on typewriters and there were people smoking in the cubicle next to me. I feel like I got to work during the golden age of TV news during the late ’80s and all through the ’90s when TV news budgets were much larger than they are now. We got to do a lot of traveling. It was a really fun period for me.”
“The business has really been streamlined since I started, but the basics remain,” he added. “The need to be fair, gather the facts and tell a good story.”
An avid cyclist and sports fan, Binkley says in retirement he’s looking forward to checking out new bike trails, enjoying Twins and Vikings games and taking more photographs. Milla — a speech coach who works with corporate executives around the country — and Binkley will be staying in the Twin Cities, but traveling is definitely in the plans.
Binkley says the hardest part about leaving WCCO will be not seeing his friends in the newsroom every day, but he’s excited for new adventures off camera.
“As much as I’ve loved doing this,” said Binkley about being in TV news, “I don’t think I’m going to miss it.”