CINCINNATI — WCPO and the Tri-State paid tribute to retiring Sports Director John Popovich with love and gratitude on Thursday. And he responded in kind.
WATCH the celebration during the 6 p.m. newscast in the video player above.
Viewers got to watch Anchor Tanya O'Rourke's special video salute to Popo's career, then Popo, his family and what Popo called "my WCPO family" gathered on the set for a touching sendoff.
"We love you. You're the consummate professional, the nicest guy on earth," O'Rourke said. "When John Popovich gives you a compliment, you take it and hold onto it as a precious gift, and it's not because you don't dole them out, it's because it's telling you you did good, and that really means a lot to all of us."
"We talk about football as the ultimate team sport," Popovich said, "I think this is the ultimate business sport because I'm no good without you guys ... Everybody makes each other look good.
"I loved being with you. I'm going to miss that."
Popo signed off his last sportscast at 11 p.m. by showing a montage of the people he worked with at WCPO Sports and thanking them for making his career so memorable.
Popo's day started with a ladder truck escort, with sirens, from his home by the Aurora Fire Department, and continued in the newsroom with mid-afternoon greetings and praise. And cake, of course.
At 6 p.m., Anchor Craig McKee saluted Popo's storytelling. "If there are any young journalists out there, watch tape of John, because you are a professional storyteller like I've never heard."
Dennis Janson, Popo's close friend and former colleague, said, "I can attest to the fact that it all comes down to hard work ... and your work ethic is unparalleled, John."
Wishing @Popo_WCPOSports the very best in his retirement. 40 years at @wcpo . He is a living legend and a dear, kind man. I will miss him every day. @McKeeWCPO @ClydeGray1 @kristyn_wcpo @GriffinFrank pic.twitter.com/YRCC8LLEVw
— Tanya O'Rourke (@TanyaORourke) December 26, 2019