BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Like many of you, I grew up watching WLOX News. And the anchorman was always Jeff Lawson.
The co-anchor sitting next to Jeff changed over the years. Barbara Beck, Gurvir Dhindsa, Miyoka Broussard, Karla Redditte, Rebecca Powers and Christina Garcia all spent time along side him at the anchor desk. But Jeff was the constant. That's why we call him our rock. Trustworthy, professional, knowledgeable.
But you already knew that. After all, those qualities are why so many of us tuned in every night at 6 and 10pm to watch Jeff deliver "The News for South Mississippi."
That's why I want to tell you about the Jeff Lawson you may not know: The jokester.
The guy who will remember that one embarrassing thing you did years ago, and then tell the story to every new employee you ever work with.
The man who lucked out and married one of the best cooks in South Mississippi, yet seems to only eat five things.
The guy who can take a little ribbing. :)
I first met Jeff when I was in high school, and was hired to work in the studio running camera and teleprompter for the nightly newscasts. When you work in the studio, you develop a special friendship with the anchors. You look out for them, make sure they have everything they need for the broadcast, and appear at their best on TV.
For me, it was the lowest, entry level job I could get being a student with no experience in TV. But Jeff always treated every co-worker with the same respect and appreciation.
When I went to college at the University of South Alabama, I'd still work at the station on Fridays because we didn't have class. He'd always question how I could possibly be learning anything in school when I had so many days off. (I did manage to learn something and eventually became his 10pm producer.)
Over the years, I watched this same scene play out with other crew members, producers, and reporters. Jeff was always a journalist, interviewing you, searching for that tidbit of information he could kid you about.
As I grew older, Jeff wasn't just a constant on my TV, he was a constant in my life. He and Alice were there when I walked down the aisle. I remember Jeff coming to visit me at the hospital when I had my first child, and Alice coming to comfort me at my father's funeral. That's the kind of family we are at WLOX, and why it's so hard when someone like Jeff decides to retire.
We know he's been part of your family, too. Jeff will tell you himself that being invited into your homes each night for 27 years has been an honor and a privilege. Tonight at 6 and 10pm, you can extend that invitation for one last time. Jeff Lawson will be signing off and turning his recent medical leave into an official retirement.
As you probably remember, Jeff was diagnosed with Bell's Palsy in 2014, and has been off the air since then focusing on family and healing. Tonight on WLOX News at 6pm, he'll talk about his condition with Health Reporter Karen Abernathy. Then on WLOX News at 10pm, Jeff will have a special message for the viewers of South Mississippi.
Be sure to watch tonight, and post your own message to Jeff on our WLOX Facebook page. We'll make sure he sees them all!