NBC 25's Bob Borngesser to retire

December 23, 1997

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

NBC 25's Bob Borngesser to retire


Staff Writer

Bob Borngesser would like to bow out as NBC 25's news director the same way he did the job for 18 years - gracefully and without a lot of fanfare.

Tonight's 6 o'clock news broadcast will be Borngesser's last as the man in charge of the 20-person television news desk in Hagerstown.


But his ruddy face and deep voice won't disappear from the television screen. He'll be writing commentary segments for the station three times a week.

"I will be passing on the baton of misery," he said jokingly, in a reluctant telephone interview Tuesday.

Reporter Glen Fortinberry has been named news director.

Borngesser, 65, was hoping to make the transition quietly over the Christmas holiday.

But a reporter leaked the story and Borngesser found himself recalling his job over the years.

In 1979, with a staff of six, he did more reporting than recently, when most of his time has been spent as an administrator.

It hasn't been easy running a small-market station that competes against powerhouse Baltimore and Washington television stations, he said.

The station's edge is its emphasis on local news over national and international news.

"We leave Bosnia to Brokaw and we do Bowers instead," he said, referring to Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers.

The station has a state-of-the-art animated weather graphics system, a strong presence on the Internet at and is about to roll out a live television truck.

"I do think the station has made great inroads," he said.

Borngesser worked behind-the-scenes to hire, and sometime fire, countless people over the years.

The station has always been a training ground for broadcast reporters who stay for an average of two years. Some have gone on to major markets.

He said the industry has become flooded with people who aren't qualified. When he advertises a job nationally, he gets 500 applications, he said.

"TV has a tendency to attract a great number of bimbos - both male and female, so I'm not being sexist," he said.

College communications programs don't spend enough time teaching students how to write, he said.

Borngesser, who has a bachelor's degree in journalism from George Washington University, got his start with an internship rewriting sports copy for the Washington Post.

He landed his first news broadcast job in 1960 at a small suburban radio station, WFAX, in Falls Church, Va.

By 1967, television was becoming a high-profile medium and Borngesser was getting itchy.

He worked his way into a reporter's job at WRC in Washington, D.C., where he stayed for eight years.

In 1976, he decided to leave the fast-paced life of a city journalist and move to Hagerstown.

He owned Cracker Barrel magazine for two years and then opened a Flower World franchise at Long Meadow Shopping Center.

But he couldn't seem to stay away from his lifelong profession.

He returned to radio part time, delivering the morning news on WQCM-FM and WHAG-AM.

In 1979, he accepted the job of news director at WHAG-TV, now known as NBC 25.

Borngesser said he looks forward to doing commentary, something he's done occasionally but has had little time for.

"It's a wonderful thing to vent. I'm an angry old guy and I love to vent," he said.

In his spare time, he'll help his wife, Brenda, run her psychiatric practice, he said.

"She has referred to me a couple of times as her secretary. I want to be her business manager," he said.

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