WBAL’s Stan Stovall retires after more than 50 years in broadcast journalism

Published on: November 23, 2022 7:15 PM EST|Updated on: November 28, 2022 8:37 AM EST

Stan Stovall pictured in the WBAL newsroom on November 22, 2022. Stovall spent more that fifty years in broadcast journalism.

Stan Stovall signed off for good Wednesday, retiring as a longtime TV news anchor in Baltimore.

After four decades in Baltimore and 52 years in broadcast journalism, Stovall anchored his final newscast on WBAL-TV 11 alongside Deborah Weiner.

“This community has been great to me. Even though I’m not from here, people have treated me like I’m a Baltimorean through and through,” he told The Baltimore Banner.

WBAL on Wednesday compiled video messages congratulating Stovall from celebrities such as Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr., Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and actor Josh Charles, as well as elected leaders Mayor Brandon Scott, U.S. Sen Ben Cardin and U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen.

Gov. Larry Hogan also tweeted his congratulations to Stovall.

“Wishing a happy retirement to WBAL’s Stan Stovall, a broadcasting icon whose 52 year career—including more than four decades as an anchor in the Baltimore region—will leave a lasting legacy for viewers across our region,” Hogan tweeted.

After growing up in upstate New York, Stovall’s family moved out west, and he began his career in Phoenix, Arizona. There, in 1970, he became the first Black TV news reporter in the state at KTVK-TV, he said. After just two years on the job, he made his debut at the anchor desk, hosting newscasts at 6 and 10 p.m.

“You know, I started in the era before computers and before social media,” he said. “And when I would reach out to community, I’ve always done it the good old-fashioned way, actually get out the door, go to schools, go to churches, be involved with the charities and civic groups because you can’t replace that interpersonal connection that you make when you meet people in person.”

After leaving Arizona, Stovall went to KSDK-TV — formerly known as KSD-TV — in 1975 in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was the weekend anchor and a reporter. He arrived in Baltimore for the first time in 1978.

That April, Stovall became the first Black man to anchor a primary weekday show in WBAL’s history, where he stayed for six and a half years before going back to KSDK-TV.

KSDK’s first Black news director, Art Holliday, worked with Stovall in the ‘80s and said it’s unusual for someone in the “must-see TV” news industry to leave and come back to a station.

“Stan’s career has been pretty unique in that he’s had multiple tours of duty at multiple stations ... it means that they were sorry to see him go the first time and brought him back the second — that doesn’t always happen in this business,” Holliday said.

“He’s had a fantastic career,” he added. “I followed him before I got into television, as a viewer, then I got to work with him. And then I got to follow his career at a distance, so I’m just happy that our paths crossed professionally.”

Stovall said that relocating for different jobs aided his professional growth tremendously.

“I probably moved around more than most professionally, almost like a military brat kind of thing,” he said. “And people are different in different parts of not only this country, but all around the world. ... So when you get a chance to meet different people in different areas, it can’t help but broaden your horizons and you find that there are lots of commonalities no matter where you live among people.”

During a four-year stop in Philadelphia, Stovall in 1988 set off on a six-month stint as a freelancer in Burma (now Myanmar), covering the civil war there while also moving around Southeast Asia to report stories from Bangkok, Manila, Seoul and Tokyo.

In 1989, he returned to Baltimore to work as an anchor at WMAR-TV, a position he held for 13 years before rejoining WBAL in April 2003.

Wanda Draper, WBAL’s former director of programming and public affairs, worked with Stovall for many years and used to tell him, “You were born to do this.”

“He has an amazing natural voice, he has curiosity about everything and he just loves news ... so for him, it’s not even a job,” she said.

In July 2021, Stovall announced his plans to eventually retire from broadcasting.

Reflecting on his career in an interview with The Banner, Stovall said that he spent the most time in Baltimore because it was “a market that he could always fully engage” himself in.

“I certainly have lived here longer than I had any place else and I’m very grateful for the support of the people,” Stovall said. “I couldn’t have had as successful a career as I’ve had without their support.”