ALBANY, GA (WALB) - For more than two decades, many of you have welcomed Ben Roberts into your homes for the WALB nightly news.
During this time, he has developed into a friendly face in the community, but also a person we can all count on to keep us informed about Southwest Georgia.
He has been here through the worst of times and the best of times, but more importantly, he has always been here for you, the viewer.
Later this month, Ben will be stepping down from his anchor position, but he won't be going far.
Ben Roberts has accepted a position as the Public Relations Manager for Phoebe Putney Health System.
He'll be overseeing all public relations and community outreach programs for all Phoebe entities.
We know that Ben will thrive in this position and we are excited to keep him here in the Albany community.
"I'll definitely miss WALB, but I'm happy that I'll still be able to serve communities throughout Southwest Georgia at Phoebe Putney," said Ben Roberts. "WALB will always be a part of me."
"Ben has been a longtime leader in the WALB newsroom and in Southwest Georgia," says WALB News Director Bari Soash. "There's no doubt that his presence in our newsroom will be greatly missed, but we are also very excited for him and his new chapter in life. He will always be a part of the WALB family and we are happy that he's staying in the Albany community."
"Phoebe is delighted to announce local news anchor, Ben Roberts, has accepted the position of PR Manager," said Jessica Castle, VP of Marketing, PR & Business Development at Phoebe Putney Heath Systems. "Roberts who has called Albany home since 2001, has established himself as a superb communicator with a deep understanding of our local community and brings to the position a wealth of media relations experience. With more than 25-years of experience as a news reporter and dozens of state, regional and national awards for excellence in broadcast journalism, Roberts is an ideal choice to communicate the many great healthcare initiatives and advancements Phoebe offers this community. Roberts will be responsible for overall communications strategy including, public relations, web and social media."
Ben started his career at WALB in 1991 as a reporter and was quickly promoted to weekend anchor.
A few years later he moved into a weekday anchor position before leaving WALB in 1997 for a job at WVLT in Knoxville, TN.
He worked at WVLT as the noon and 5 p.m. anchor before returning home to WALB in November of 2001 as primary anchor and executive producer.
With Ben's Departure comes a new opportunity for another longtime WALB friendly face. We are happy to announce that Jim Wallace will be taking over for Ben at the anchor desk alongside Melissa Hodges in the early evening, and solo at 11 p.m.
"I am very excited about this new opportunity at WALB," said Jim Wallace. "I believe strongly that we are South Georgia's number one news source, and look forward to continuing to serve our viewers."
"There's nobody better to be the primary anchor and continue to be a leader in the newsroom than Jim who has served our area for 40 years and understands the people and what's important to them," said Ben Roberts.
Lead anchor Melissa Hodges has sat alongside Ben in the early 2000s and again beginning last October.
"I have had the honor of working with Ben twice during my career in television news, and he has been a personal friend for 15 years. It's been a joy sharing South Georgia's news alongside him everyday, and I will miss the partnership. I am thrilled he is choosing to stay in South Georgia, in a community he loves and loves him in return," says Melissa Hodges. "Jim Wallace is a perfect fit for helping lead our growing news operation, and I look forward to working with him on the desk."
Jim Wallace came to WALB in November 1976, as Assistant Sports Director.
A few years later he was promoted to Sports Director and covered news occasionally as well.
He switched over to news full time in September 2001 serving as WALB's 5:30 p.m. anchor and crime beat reporter.
Ben Roberts will remain at WALB through the end of the year. Jim Wallace will move into his new role beginning January 1st, 2017.