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    Sunday, December 04, 2022

    Hogan retires from TV news

    Kevin Hogan, who retired last week from his long-time position as a reporter/weekend anchor at WFSB, stands among the school buses at M&J Bus Lines in Old Saybrook Monday, August 1, 2022. Hogan, who worked as a school bus driver when he was a college student, is training to be a bus driver with M&J in his retirement. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Kevin Hogan, who retired last week from his long-time position as a reporter/weekend anchor at WFSB, stands among the school buses at M&J Bus Lines in Old Saybrook Monday, August 1, 2022. Hogan, who worked as a school bus driver when he was a college student, is training to be a bus driver with M&J in his retirement. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Griswold — You'd think a guy like Kevin Hogan, the former weekend news anchor for WFSB Channel 3 who has covered stories from Sandy Hook to the pope's visit to Cuba, would be looking for some highfalutin corporate gig to pass the time in retirement.

    Instead, on his last day on the television station's payroll July 29, he was contemplating his next job as a bus driver at MJ Bus in Old Saybrook.

    "There's a huge need for school bus drivers, and I did it for four years while I was in college," Hogan said in a phone interview last week from his home in Griswold. "It's great. You wake up early, come back late in the afternoon and you're done."

    Hogan, who estimated driving buses about 200,000 miles early in his life, admitted that things have changed for bus drivers over the years and he probably would have to adopt a "gentler, quieter" way of dealing with unruly students if he's able to secure a job at MJ Bus. He had plans to surprise bus company operator Mike Beebe by showing up Monday to a training session for new drivers, which also involved a press conference promoting the need for drivers.

    Hogan, 66, who has been in the news business for nearly half a century, started in radio, a medium befitting a voice that resonates with authority.

    Hogan remembers getting involved right away with his college radio station at Western Connecticut State College, later becoming assistant news director. One day, he skipped class and went to WINE radio in the Danbury area to ask about a job as a part-time reporter at night and anchor on the weekends. His first story, which paid only $10, was about a complicated budget referendum, and he was hooked.

    The Ansonia native later landed a television internship in New York, and afterward became a production assistant. Soon, he moved to WELI in New Haven as one of the morning news anchors and later was lured to a competing radio station, KC101, as news director.

    "Always maintain your contacts. Contacts are the key," he told students at Connecticut College in a speech earlier this year where he announced his upcoming retirement (Hogan has been generous in giving up his time to make local appearances). "Never give up. Always push forward. And believe in yourself."

    Hogan pushed on to become a news reporter at WTNH-TV Channel 8 in New Haven until the mid-1990s, when he left for a couple years to try out a solo career in content production. On one of his assignments, covering Pope John Paul II's 1998 visit to Cuba for WFSB-TV Channel 3, Hogan had been scheduled to be a field producer with a team of three, including the legendary newsman Al Terzi, who was to be in front of the camera. But both the cameraman and Terzi were excluded from entering Cuba, so Hogan had to quickly find a freelance cameraman and do all the coverage and production work by himself.

    When Hogan returned from the trip and entered the Channel 3 newsroom, he got a standing ovation and the offer of starting a new job the next day.

    Of course, the news business doesn't allow such feelings of accomplishment to linger long, as there is always the next story to do. And Hogan has been a part of many of the most horrific events affecting Connecticut, including coverage of the 1987 L'Ambiance Plaza collapse in Bridgeport, 9/11 and the Sandy Hook school shootings.

    Sometimes, Hogan has been called on to become part of the story, as he did years ago in Woodbury, when his producers prodded him into bungee jumping out of a tethered hot air balloon.

    "Oh my god, I will never do that again. It's like a slingshot," he laughed.

    Hogan, the New London bureau chief for Channel 3, was in front of the camera for a final broadcast July 27 for a story on fuel-cost woes and supply-chain issues besetting local ice cream trucks as he signed off for the last time from McCook Point Park in Niantic. Hogan lived for more than two decades in Old Lyme, and his children graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School.

    Hogan recently married Susan Matera, whose family owns Surplus Unlimited in Norwich, and has plans to travel to Ireland, Italy and England in the near future. After spending a dozen years restoring a 1959 MG convertible, he hopes next to find a 1967 Camaro that he can work on for his wife. He has some book narration and other work he may do from time to time, he said, but much of his free time lately has been occupied by a new Irish doodle named Smudge that he is training.

    “I need ’me’ time,” he said.

    He vows to exercise more in anticipation next month of a 43rd annual bike ride that he and some college buddies enjoy.

    What he will not be missing in retirement, he said, are those calls in the middle of the night to cover another tragedy, or the folks who used to ring him up at 2 a.m. to say, "I've got a story for you."

    Still, he has been overwhelmed by all the reaction on social media to his retirement, many from people he didn't know who had been listening to him and watching his reporting for years, some right from his first days as a professional.

    "It's been an honor," he said. "To make a difference, that's all you hope ... to have an impact on other lives."

    l.howard@theday.com

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