If anyone exemplifies the expression "time flies when you are having fun," it is former WGRZ-TV co-anchor John Beard.
By "former," I mean Beard really, really has ended his run as the co-anchor of the No. 1 morning program "Daybreak" on Thursday morning.
It was an eight-year run, though Beard continues to say it was seven years. Presumably he missed a year because he was having so much fun.
After threatening to leave a few times before, Beard was given a lengthy, love-filled, Channel 2 goodbye worthy of three departures. Watch some of it below:
— WGRZ (@WGRZ) January 18, 2018
Starting at 5 a.m., the program featured Facebook messages from viewers, video messages from staffers, a humorous Kevin O'Neill piece interviewing staffers that was online Wednesday night, on-air tributes from his "Daybreak" colleagues and Beard's heartfelt goodbye at the end.
Overall, the package illustrated why "Daybreak" has been No. 1 over Beard's eight-year run alongside co-anchors Melissa Holmes and Jodi Johnston.
More than anything, morning programs need to give viewers a sense of family. The "Daybreak" team does just that. Some viewers think the program is too light. But the testimonials Thursday about Beard's humor and love of his job and life illustrated how much he had to do with the program's success.
The two-hour program was loaded with light moments.
O'Neill had one of the better moments. After listing Beard's success as an anchor in Los Angeles, his dating actresses and singers and his bit parts in movies and TV shows, O'Neill deadpanned "you knew that, if you stayed focused, eventually you'd make it to Buffalo morning television."
But the most memorable parts of the long goodbye were the poignant serious or semi-serious moments.
Pete Gallivan, who was displaced by Beard in the "Daybreak" anchor seat in 2009 and returns to the seat Friday, indirectly referenced his removal nine years ago in his on-air speech.
"For me to like you as much as I do says a lot about you as a person, as a professional and it will be my honor to slide into that seat tomorrow," said Gallivan.
Meteorologist Patrick Hammer noted that it was no secret that he and Beard had been out of work for a while. (They both came here after being "on the beach," a TV expression meaning they were unemployed). Then Hammer noted he was selling clothes when he got a call from Beard about working in Buffalo.
Hammer said the call meant so much to him because it came from Beard, who he watched on Los Angeles television when he was in college, and because he knew he was getting a chance to get back into TV.
At program's end, O'Connell and Johnston joined the "Daybreak" staff, with O'Connell providing an accidental laugh by calling Holmes' husband, Buffalo News sportswriter Jay Skurski, by the wrong first name.
And then it was time for Beard to say goodbye and tell Western New Yorkers how much he has loved the area since first coming here in the late 1970s to anchor at WIVB-TV (Channel 4).
"I fell in love with this city decades ago and it never left," said Beard.
"Buffalonians are not afraid of work and they are not afraid to have a good time. It is a pleasure to be an honorary member, if nothing else of the Buffalo family."
The only way a Beard fan may have been disappointed in the goodbye is if the viewer expected tears.
Otherwise, time flew over the two hours.