BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Twenty five years ago a television journalist originally from Wyoming debuted on this station, and he’s still here, delivering the news most every weeknight.
Jim Scott has co-hosted 17 News at 5 and 6 since 1996. Along the way he has broken some big stories, introduced viewers to a lot of important people, and earned himself a spot on the couch in thousands of Central Valley homes.
Depending on the circumstances, journalists might be called upon to explain, warn, teach, entertain, antagonize, offer comfort, and sometimes even befriend. Jim Scott has been all of those things at one time or another, sometimes simultaneously, but the hat we’ve come to see him wear most often is that of trustworthy voice.
Over roughly 40 years in TV, 25 of them were here at KGET. He has earned that status with hard work, an inquisitive mind and a sense of duty.
His broadcast career started in his native Wyoming. First, in radio, in Newcastle, followed by his first television job in Casper.
He was recruited to Bakersfield in 1984 at KERO-TV, where he served as anchor for the 11 p.m. news.
His co-anchor at KERO was Robin Mangarin.
They turned out to be more than just a potent professional match. They married in 1987, knowing one of them would have to resign, per station policy. So Robin submitted her resignation but KERO changed its policy and the Scotts became the first in a local line of married on-air journalists.
In 1993 Jim and Robin moved four hours south to anchor the news at San Diego’s KUSI but they returned to Bakersfield three years later to KGET.
Jim’s love of reporting meaty, meaningful stories earned him his chops. Government, water, the oil industry – he grasps them all and he explains them to us with succinct clarity.
25 years later, Jim continues to build on the trust he established years ago not just with viewers, but with the newsmakers he covers.
WEB EXTRA: 17 News team members congratulate Jim Scott on 25 years at KGET:
“When I was young it was Burleigh Smith, Marge Stiles, Don Rodewald. Then along came a guy named Jim Scott,” Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said. “Jim Scott, you have been someone in our community that we could trust. And today, more than ever, we need that from the media.”
“It is impossible to adequately assess the impact you are making every single day, but no doubt, Jim, you are one of the best in the business,” Bakersfield Assemblyman Vince Fong said.
“Jim’s genuine caring for our community, his integrity, his keen investigative skills and humanity make Jim the consummate journalist that Bakersfield viewers trust,” Bakersfield Mayor Karen Goh said.
“Jim Scott is a pillar in our community,” Congressman Kevin McCarthy said. “When I think of him I think of reliable news, heartwarming stories and journalistic integrity, and I know Bakersfield feels the same way.”
Jim Scott understands the limits of a nightly newscast that by necessity covers a broad range of topics, from public safety to weather to high school football. That’s why he created Kern County In Depth, a weekly public affairs show that brings in newsmakers like Assemblyman Rudy Salas.
“I always love our In Depth, Kern County In Depth, sitting with you,” Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas said. “You’ve been a tough but fair reporter and you’ve just been a true asset.”
And newsmakers like Stu Witt of the Mojave Air and Space Port.
“If there’s any one person who exemplifies and promotes Kern County regularly, across the board, across industries, it’s Jim Scott,” Witt said.
Along the way, he has collected plenty of hardware, the kind that signifies professional excellence. An Emmy, a Golden Globe, an Edward R. Murrow Award, along with countless honors from the community. But has made his mark in another important way.
“He’s a constant mentor every day in our newsroom,” General Manager and Vice President of KGET Derek Jeffery said. “Mentoring somebody that just started and mentioning someone who’s been here for decades.”
But it’s the young journalists who have really benefited from his guidance.
“Thank you for being such a great mentor to me, I’ve learned so much from you,” 17 News reporter Eytan Wallace said.
“Every viewer can see how wonderful he is on TV, how important he is, how serious he is. What you don’t see is the value he brings to an organization like this, the mentorship of all the people who come through here,” KGET News Director Michael Trihey said. “Everyone gets a master class in journalism from Jim Scott.”
“One of the things I’ve always admired is the way that he helps mentor the younger reporters that come in,” 17 News anchor Tami Mlcoch said. “He wants everyone to do their best.”
A few young journalists, like 17 Sunrise anchor Alex Fisher, have been learning from the master for a very, very long time.
“I was 2 years old when Jim Scott first started working here at KGET and I remember growing up and watching him,” 17 News at Sunrise anchor Alex Fisher said.
“Jim Scott is the man that you can go to if you feel like you’re at a dead end with a story,” 17 News at Sunrise anchor Maddie Janssen said. “He can make a good script better and you can also just go to him if you feel like you have just majorly screwed up and you can count on him for a big hug and to give you some advice on a way out of it.”
“As a reporter, the biggest lesson that Jim taught me is that our job isn’t just to report the news, but it’s to care about the community we’re reporting on,” former 17 News reporter Olivia LaVoice said. “I know that may sound a little cheesy, but it’s so true, and no one does that better than Jim.”
And he does it all with a remarkably even-tempered disposition. If Jim Scott is wearing down, he’s hiding it remarkably well. Fact is, he still loves what he does.
“To have 25 years in any industry is remarkable,” Jeffery said. “To have 25 years in television, 25 years at one station, that is to say the least extremely rare.”
How do you last 25 years? Consistency. Sense of mission. Integrity.
“Jimmy, we sure had a lot of success in the 14 years we shared together at KGET,” former KGET News Director John Pilios said. “I always considered you our moral compass. And I want to thank you for helping me straighten out my drives during all those charity golf tournaments.”
Right down the middle of the fairway. That’s 17’s Jim Scott.