Jim Axel, a veteran WAGA-TV anchor for 34 years, died Saturday after a long battle with lung cancer, according to WAGA-TV.
Axel worked at WAGA-TV from 1962 until he retired in 1996.
He was diagnosed with lung cancer four years ago, the WAGA-TV story said. And he credited his wife for holding up as well as he did in an interview with his former station last year.
“I would hate to be where I am without her,” he said at the time. “She’s been wonderful. She makes sure the family gets through it. I can’t tell you enough what it has meant to have her. She’s supportive. She’s demanding. She’ll tell me what I need to have done whether I want to do it or not.”
Doug Richards, who works at WXIA-TV but spent many years at WAGA-TV, offered kind words about Axel on his Live Apartment Fire blog:
Axel was smart, passionate, occasionally surly and uncompromising in his standards of journalism. He had a twenty-plus year head-start on me, career-wise. If he could do it, I figured — maybe I can.
And long-time executive producer at WAGA Mark Shavin threw in his own thoughts, which are extremely touching. An excerpt here but please read the entire piece if you have a couple of minutes to spare:
He could be funny and solicitous one moment and gruff and short-tempered the next. He was of an age when news anchors were hard charging and larger than life. Jim took his role seriously. The news mattered. The trust of his audience mattered. His reputation mattered. If you were his producer, you developed a thick skin. If you stood your ground with Jim, he respected you, but you had to earn your stripes every day. I can remember countless times asking him to write a minute and a half piece on the big national or international story of the day, only to be met with a sharp rebuke.
Axel always wore a red tie. That was his siganture. Watch local Atlanta newscasts Monday. Many newscasters will be wearing red ties in tribute to Axel – including Richards.
I’ll add more to this on Monday when memorial details are announced.