John Roland, a broadcasting legend and longtime anchor for FOX 5 in New York, died Sunday at 81 years old.
Roland was the face of FOX 5’s 10 p.m. newscast for nearly 30 years until he retired in 2004, becoming a trusted newsman to millions of New Yorkers across decades. As FOX 5 put it, Roland “was known for his frank delivery and his compassion for New Yorkers who were living through the violent times in the city in the 1970s.”
He began his career in the 1960s and landed his first major assignment in 1966 for NBC News in Los Angeles. In 1969, he joined WNEW-TV, then-owned by MetroMedia before it became FOX’s WNYW where he remained until his retirement.
When he first joined the New York station, Roland was the weekday political reporter and the 10 o’clock weekend anchor. He later took over the 10 o’clock weeknight chair in 1979.
Viewers turned to Roland as he covered historic events over the years from Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination to the 9/11 attacks.
“Sitting next to John was always a learning lesson,” Roland’s former co-anchor Rosanna Scotto said. “He took pride in his writing and his down-to-earth communicating. It was never more evident than anchoring next to him during the 9/11 attacks.”
Roland wasn’t just reporting the news but notably found himself in the news. In 1983, he confronted three armed robbers while dining at a New York City restaurant, wrestling one of them and shooting him in the leg. The other two attacked Roland, who was struck in the head with a gun.
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