‘Alan Williams Way’ dedicated to retiring WVLT news anchor; East Tennesseans celebrate his contributions
Alan Williams, a longtime news anchor at WVLT in Knoxville, Tennessee, was celebrated by the community ahead of his retirement.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The road past the WVLT News studio is now named Alan Williams Way, in honor of the station’s longtime news anchor, Alan Williams. The East Tennessee native announced his retirement following a career in journalism that spanned decades.
Williams was shocked and honored when his WVLT family revealed Tuesday afternoon that the street leading to the station was named in his honor, ‘Alan Williams Way.’
People from all across the state sent special messages to Williams, celebrating his impact on East Tennessee and the broadcasting industry as a whole.
“Hey Big Al, quite a ride, hasn’t it been. Man we go way back, no doubt about that,” WVLT’s Sports Director Rick Russo said.
Russo recalled putting up a basketball goal with Williams in the newsroom and putting up shots in the early days of their career. Russo recalled the trips the pair took, including one to California covering Tennessee football and visiting Disneyland.
“You’re going to be missed and I’ve certainly enjoyed being able to call you friend and colleague for all these years. Thanks for the memories,” Russo said.
Bob Kesling, voice of the Tennessee Vols, congratulated Williams on his retirement saying, “I really want to thank you for helping me learn the ropes. I didn’t know how to shoot a camera or edit a videotape and you were so kind and helpful to bring me up to speed.”
Mike Keith with the Tennessee Titans sent his well wishes, “Congratulations on what has been an absolutely remarkable career in this market.”
“I want to congratulate your time in Knoxville and being a Knoxville treasure and all the great work you’ve done not only at the station but also in the community,” University of Tennessee Head Basketball Coach Rick Barnes said. “It’s been a real treat to get to know you through our Bible study.”
UT Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer recalled the first time he met Alan Williams. Fulmer said at first he wasn’t too sure about letting a Florida Gator into his home to do an interview. However, the friendship has only grown since.
“Happy retirement and congratulations to you for the wonderful career you’ve had,” Fulmer said. “I’m thankful for your friendship and mentorship.”
Others including Knoxville Fire Captain D.J. Corcoran and UT Athletics Historian Bud Ford shared their memorable stories and the impact Williams left on them.
As an East Tennessee native, Williams got his start in the business in 1979 as an Assistant Sports Director at WBIR-TV, before moving on to WAAY-TV in Huntsville, Alabama, then back to Knoxville as Sports Director of WATE-TV before joining WVLT. He would later spend more than 30 years of his career at WVLT covering stories across the region as part of his famous and beloved ‘Tennessee Traveler’ reports.
In the late 80′s Williams served as Sports Director of WIVK, the flagship station of the University of Tennessee. During his time at WIVK, Williams did triple duty as co-host of “Dance Line”, on The Nashville Network as well as anchoring “Noonday” on then WKXT, now WVLT.
Williams played college football at the University of Florida before he was drafted by the New York Jets. Williams was one of just a few NFL veterans to appear on East Tennessee TV.
Knox County Mayor Jacobs officially declared December 22, 2020 as ‘Alan Williams Day’ and thanked Williams for being such a great friend to him over the years.
“Alan Williams has earned the respect and admiration of the community by dedicating more than four decades of his personal and professional life to making a difference in East Tennessee and, whereas, telling unforgettable stories highlighting the best and brightest of Knoxville as well as areas near and far,” Jacobs said.
Williams learned of the proclamation in an emotional segment live on WVLT’s morning show.
“I’ve done so many stories but it’s not about the stories, it’s about you all. It’s about the relationships with people and that’s what makes it special,” Williams said.
During his career, Williams served on numerous committee boards and organizations, including the Knoxville Area United Way, Positively Living and Love All Tennis. He was also a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and the Country Music Association.
Some of William’s most memorable reports include his coverage of the Vols 1998 National Championship run.
Williams will formally retire after more than 40 years in the business at the end of 2020.
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