John Roland, a legendary broadcast journalist and longtime New York City news anchor, passed away on Sunday at the age of 81. His former employer, Fox 5 News, announced the sad news.
Roland joined the station in 1969 as a weekday political reporter and weekend anchor, eventually becoming the 10 p.m. news anchor on New York’s Channel 5 for approximately 30 years. His presence on the nightly news desk remained steadfast as he anchored alongside numerous colleagues, including Rosanna Scotto in the 1990s.
“He taught me about fairness in presenting the news,” Scotto said of Roland. “I felt his passion and respect for the audience who watched his nightly broadcast.” According to Fox 5, Roland delivered New Yorkers the day’s news with “his frank delivery and his compassion” for residents, whether it was a quiet day in the Big Apple or a chaotic tragedy like on 9/11.
Prior to his time in New York, Roland began his broadcast news career in the 1960s in California, where he worked for NBC before getting a reporting gig at KTTV in Los Angeles. He covered notable events such as the Robert F. Kennedy assassination and the Charles Manson trial, as reported by Fox 5.
Roland also made the news himself. In 1983, he confronted armed robbers who stormed into the former Racing Club, a restaurant across the street from the Fox 5 studios, where he and a friend were having dinner. He tussled with one of the three robbers and shot him in the leg before being struck over the head with a gun by the other armed bandits.
Although Roland was briefly suspended from the station for letting his “emotions prevail over objectivity” after getting into an on-air argument with a mentally ill homeless woman, he apologized and returned to the station to work for many more years.
Roland retired in 2004 and was living in Florida at the time of his passing. He is survived by his wife, Zayda. John Roland will be remembered for his contributions to broadcast journalism and his impact on the New York City news industry.