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Washington legend Gordon Peterson leaves WJLA after 10 years

Gordon Peterson. (WJLA file photos)

WASHINGTON (WJLA) – The time has come for ABC 7 News to say farewell to one of the most trusted men in Washington: Gordon Peterson.

After 10 years at WJLA’s anchor desk, Peterson is moving on to his next adventure. He has made it clear that this is not the start of his retirement; there’s much more to come.

Peterson’s longtime co-anchor Maureen Bunyan spoke with the storied journalist about his career:

Bunyan: I don’t think many people know how you got started in this business. Can you remember back that far?

Peterson: I left active duty in the Marine Corps and I didn’t want to go back to work, so I got a job as a news director at a radio station in my hometown.

Bunyan: Worcester.

Peterson: Yeah, Worcester, Mass.

From there, Peterson moved to Boston to cover sports.

Peterson: Yes, a lot of sports for the CBS Radio Network with Frank Gifford. I covered the impossible dream World Series of Red Sox and the Cardinals. I covered Arthur Ashe and Billie Jean King and a lot of sports; it was a lot of fun.

But Peterson’s first love—political reporting—pulled him to the nation’s capital in 1969.

Peterson: There were anti-war demonstrations all over the place and the Civil Rights thing was big. I walked up 14th Street with Walter Washington, the mayor, in the summer of ’69. My clothes reeked like tear gas and there were tears in my eyes all the time, and I loved it.

Peterson also began anchoring, launching a 45-year career as one of the nation’s premier news anchors. He shared the anchor desk with Bunyan for more than 20 years at WUSA9 and at WJLA for the past 10 years.

Peterson: Best 10 years I’ve ever had, right here. Also, a chance to be reunited with you was a main factor—you and Doug Hill and, bonus, becoming friendly with Alison [Starling] and Leon [Harris] and Tim Brant.

Peterson also brought an award-winning news institution with him: “Inside Washington.”

Peterson: It was all about the chemistry, that show. It wasn’t so much the subject matter—certainly, I didn’t care about ideology. I thought it was like conversation around the dinner table—after the meal is served, you have spirited discussions, but all leave as friends. That was my game plan and I think it worked pretty well.

Bunyan: Certainly did.

While at WJLA, Peterson also reported on presidential races, new popes, veterans’ issues and battleground Virginia. Though his time at ABC 7 News is coming to an end, he says he’s not throwing in the towel anytime soon.

Peterson: I’m not going anywhere. If you see me on the street, come up and say hello; I’ll appreciate it. I’m going to keep working. I’m too young to quit.

Bunyan: But you’re leaving! You’re leaving me!

Peterson: We’re like an old married couple, without the fights. It’s been beautiful.

Bunyan: And no alimony!

Peterson: That’s the best part.

Peterson says he’s in conversation with some people about his next opportunity, but that’s still unsettled at this point.

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