SALT LAKE CITY — Keith McCord began his final broadcast at KSL the same way he did it for 39 years: He told Utah the news.
"Utahns startled awake by an Amber Alert early this morning; now the big changes that are coming," McCord said at the top of the broadcast.
Sunday night’s 10 p.m. broadcast, though, was different. It was a celebration of a man who has been a regular guest in thousands upon thousands of Utahns' homes for nearly four decades. After a 45-year career in broadcasting — 39 of which came with KSL — McCord signed off for the final time.
The night featured video messages from former and current co-workers wishing him well, features produced on his career, and McCord himself, who even wore his "special occasion" tie. But through all the celebratory messages, McCord still remained the professional he has been for all those years: He remained a newsman.
He told the story of Allen Dee Pace, 68, a senior missionary from Willard who passed away from coronavirus; he helped explain the relief bill for small businesses; and he let Utah know about the changes coming to the Amber Alert system.
And he did it in the calming tone that became just as iconic as his familiar mustache.
"The Keith you see on TV is the real Keith," co-anchor Ashley Kewish said on the broadcast. "He really is that nice. Keith’s been a constant here at KSL for nearly four decades. The good news he shares with a smile and warmth; the sad news, he shared as a friend."
The night highlighted just how important McCord has been to the KSL team. In 39 years, he not only did his job near-flawlessly, but inspired countless others to be better as well.
"Thank you everybody for watching all these years. Appreciate it. Love ya. I will see you down the road … AND SportsBeat is next."— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) April 20, 2020
He started @KSL5TV 14,307 days ago. We all feel like it went by too fast. We already miss @KeithMcCord. Thanks, Keith!#mccordsretirementpic.twitter.com/sWBiAknSfn
Shara Park, the breaking news anchor for KSL 5 News Today and KSL 5 News at Noon, said she had to pinch herself when she sat next to him to do the news.
"He was someone I had looked up to my entire career," Park said in a video message.
Brooke Walker, the host and executive producer of Studio 5, said she still remembers exactly what she wore the first time she anchored the news next to McCord "because it was that big of a deal."
He was an institution, but what made him exceptional was the way he made everyone feel uniquely special.
"He has this amazing ability to make you feel like when you’re talking to him that you are one of the most amazing people in the world," Kewish said. "Fifteen years ago, he did that to me when I walked into KSL as an intern, and I’ve been lucky to learn from him ever since. Keith, you say that 39 years have flown by, but it hasn’t been nearly long enough for us."
McCord said he will now get to work on compiling a bucket list — he’s covered stories all around Utah, but there are still plenty of places he wants to get to around the state, he said. The mustache will stay, as well — but his face could look different in a couple of weeks. First off, he doesn’t have to wear makeup anymore, he stated in relief, and he’s already begun the process of growing out a beard.
"I am now officially starting to grow it back," he said during the final moments of the broadcast. "I might shave it in a month, but it’s already starting."
As the day of his final broadcast grew near, McCord decided to Google just how long he’s been with the station. The answer: 14,307 days. What will he miss the most?
"The people," he said during a feature of his career.
Those include the photographers who made his stories look pretty, the producers who made his copy better and, of course, the viewers who tuned in to watch him for four decades.
"Thank you, everybody, for watching all these years," McCord said in his final sign off. "Appreciate it. Love you. We’ll see you down the road."