Signing Off in Bean Town

A longtime Boston Reporter is ready to call it quits. 

When WCVB Reporter Jack Harper sees himself in the monitor, he has to pause. “What’s my dad doing on the air?” he jokes.

The Boston Globe writes that Harper 69, is the dean of TV news reporters in Boston, having spent 33 years chasing stories for WCVB. But tomorrow, Harper’s career in front of the camera is coming to an end. He’s retiring to spend more time with his wife, NECN reporter Leslie Gaydos, and their three young children.

Never a glamorous guy, Harper’s old-school. He doesn’t have great hair like many of the mannequins who hold microphones these days, but he does have a knack for getting people to talk, and that’s served him — and his viewers — well over time.

“Jack’s one of the most honorable and dignified people I know in the business,” says WJZ reporter Bill Shields. “But don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean he didn’t try to beat my butt on a story.”

Harper’s a general assignment reporter, which means he covers crime and punishment, breaking news, and just about everything else. Over three decades, he’s worn through his share of shoe leather doing stories that are often unspeakably sad.

“Sometimes talking is cathartic for people and sometimes they just don’t want it,” he says. “I’ll never forget the woman in Oklahoma City who lost two children in the [bombing] at the daycare. She said, ‘I don’t know what to say when people ask me if I have children.’ ”

Harper’s not wild about the influence of social media on the news business.

“I’m not real good at Twitter and social media stuff,” he says. “I think we’re all just chasing our tails. I think because of the constant moment by moment focus on social media, news organizations are losing perspective on which developments are really important at the end of the day.”