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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Legendary Broadcaster Sets Last Day at WCBI-TV

Bill Gamel is signing off the air at WCBI-TV.

After nearly four decades in broadcasting, the veteran news man is retiring. Gamel has been a part of WCBI Midday for 30 years, first as co-host with Jeffery Rupp and then as anchor and producer.

He originated the first morning newscast in north Mississippi with WCBI Sunrise, co-anchoring with Charla Stegall and meteorologist Rob Smith. Sunrise has now expanded to 3 and 1/2 hours across two television stations, to include the North Mississippi CW4.

The Alabama native began his career in radio at WAMA Radio in Selma. Gamel reported sports over the airwaves. That’s when a local television station approached him about reporting on-camera.

Former WAMA DJ Dan Hughes remembers arriving at work one day to find Gamel talking to a round circle on the wall. Hughes writes, “I noticed that Bill had taped a small “dot” cut from a 3×5 card on the window in front of the small studio we used for news and sports reporting. I asked him what that was for, and he said he had been hired to do sports on the new TV station in Selma (WSLA), and he was practicing looking at the camera (that would be the dot) as he read the sportscast.”

At WSLA-TV, Gamel was a sportscaster and also worked behind the scenes as a director. George Singleton is the former Operations Manager and General Manager at WSLA-TV. He writes,” Bill was a great talent, excellent voice, and was able to grasp all the operational aspects of control room and studio operations and was a talent doing sports and news as needed. We had a small staff and thus had to be multi-talented crew.”

It was in that multi-talented capacity that Gamel was originally hired at WCBI-TV. He directed shows at the old television station in the cow pasture off of Military Road.

When WCBI moved to downtown Columbus, Gamel did too, first in sports and then as part of the partnership that made Midday appointment television.

Gamel and Rupp hosted a variety of characters over the years including local favorites Mother Goose and Cake Boy. They gave away hundreds of toys during December to children in North Mississippi, including the always poplar “Uncle Milton’s Ant Farm. And they started “Pets without Partners,” a collaboration with the Humane Society that continues to this day.

Gamel has been the anchor for WCBI Sunrise, beginning with the original broadcast September 18, 1995. During that time Gamel has served as mentor and friend to 11 co-hosts and 13 meteorologists.

“Bill is the most recognized newsperson in North Mississippi, says Derek Rogers, General Manager at WCBI-TV. “He is also one of the most loved. Everyone asks about Bill. He has been part of our viewers’ lives for years, and part of our WCBI lives. We miss him already.”

Gamel is married to Susan McKenzie Gamel. He is “Big Daddy” to his grandchildren and “Bama Bill” to countless others. In retirement, the Gamels plan to spend time traveling and supporting Bill’s other great love – Alabama football.

Bill Gamel’s last day at WCBI is Monday, December 18th. Plan to join us by watching Renae, Alex and Bill on Sunrise, and again at noon with Aundrea Self hosting Bill’s last Midday. If you want to send him a good luck note, you can email via msullivan@wcbi.com, message WCBI on Facebook, or drop him a line WCBI TV PO Box 271, Columbus, 39703.

Comment on this Story

  • James Simms

    Wow. Used to live in Selma from 1969-1975. Remember Deep Purple’s “Smoke On the Water” starting up, then the station ID “WAMA in Bama” would air in the short pause. Lived out near the WSLA tower & remember seeing it as if it were in our front yard. Sadly, neither WAMA or WSLA are still around & the WSLA tower was removed some time ago. What memories. Enjoy your retirement Bill. You’ve earned it; wishes for good health & a happy retirement in the future.

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