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by Grace Anshutz Oct 3, 2023

Jim Bienemann

Veteran TV anchor Jim Benemann retired at the end of 2022 after more than four decades on the air, and 36 years in the Denver TV market. 

Benemann, who has co-anchored KCNC-TV’s CBS4 nightly news with Karen Leigh since 2008, has also been the face of that station’s primetime news broadcasts since 2002, witnessing the Mile High City’s highs and lows during times of unprecedented growth and social and political turmoil, and sitting in the front seat of the city’s charitable scene.

After he signs off at the end of 2022, Benemann plans to travel with his wife, Karen, hitting their “bucket list” locations and spending more time with their sprawling family, which includes eight children and five grandchildren in Colorado and elsewhere.

Benemann’s reporting career spans the globe as he has filed stories on five continents and worked as a reporter and news anchor from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Ore. His retirement also underlines the changes that the TV news business has seen over the last few decades, from the “printing money” days of stations flush with cash from advertising in the 1970s and ’80s, to the digital evolution, competition and badly needed diversity discussions in contemporary news media.

Those jokes aside, Benemann is widely admired in Denver because he finds a balance between earnest and entertaining, with a stand-up comic’s sense of timing, fierce intelligence and unerring news judgement, friends and colleagues said.

Benemann hails from Chicago — his mother, 98, still lives in the Glenvale suburb — and moved to Colorado to attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins in 1978. Fresh out of broadcasting school, he worked in the Quad Cities market (Davenport, Iowa).

His first on-air job in Denver arrived in 1981, as the inaugural Boulder County reporter for Channel 9 KUSA. Station owner Gannett then offered to send him to Washington, D.C., to help open a new national news bureau there, at age 25. After that, he returned to Denver and reported on weekend sports and morning news at 9News, as the KUSA station is now called. In 1989, he returned to CBS4 to become a co-anchor.

While most of his career has been Colorado-focused, he also served as one of the main news anchors at Portland’s KGW-TV from 1994 to 1997. But a call from KUSA brought him back to Colorado, as that station was looking to replace longtime Denver anchor Ed Sardella with another comforting, familiar face.

An Avalanche fan, Benemann also loves the Cherry Cricket restaurant and music venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the Bluebird Theater. Despite his upcoming travels, he won’t be straying from Colorado for too long, he said.

He sees brighter days ahead for the news industry, and Denver, despite the “dramatic changes,” and is looking forward to the simple pleasures of not delivering the news at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. every weeknight.

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