TWC News Remembers Raleigh Sports Director Jim Connors

Time Warner Cable News Chief Photographer Mark Barger captures the spirit and true essence of Jim Connors in a special tribute to his legacy and Charlotte Sports Director Mike Solarte pays homage to his Sports Night partner, colleague and friend. 

Time Warner Cable News is mourning the loss of one of our own. It is with great sadness we report the passing of our Raleigh Sports Director, Jim Connors. 

Connors passed away Saturday after a short and sudden illness at the age of 51.

He was the Sports Director in our Raleigh newsroom and co-host of Sports Night.

As a seasoned sportscaster, he has anchored sportscasts in Winston-Salem and New Bern as well as Bluefield, West Virginia, and Billings, Montana, before joining Time Warner Cable News in 2002.  He was part of the team who helped us launch News 14 Carolina.

Jim had passion for North Carolina sports, having already worked extensively with Duke, Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest. On the pro side, he tackled the Panthers, Hornets and Hurricanes. He covered racing events in Daytona, Charlotte and numerous small tracks around the state. He is a nine time North Carolina Associated Press award winner who relished the opportunity to live and work in the Triangle (“if all goes well I would love for my children to grow up here”), and to direct a sports department that- in addition to covering the state’s major college and professional sports- gives priority attention to small colleges, high schools, and  occasionally your neighborhood little league and soccer team.

His accomplishments range from anchoring our coverage of Final Fours and U.S. Opens to reporting from the sidelines of the state high school football and basketball championships.

Accomplishments and accolades aside, Jim had a great sense of humor and was known as a bit of a prankster around the newsroom. A couple of his coworkers were on the receiving end of one particular prank after Jim's Philadelphia Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys. Jim decorated Senior Media Editor Eric Jackson and News Anchor Anthony Austin’s desks accordingly (see: photo gallery). 

We remember Jim Connors as a skilled and talented Sports Director, but also as a friend.  

“Having worked every night with Jim, my heart aches for his family.  Jim was the consummate pro, and it was an honor to work alongside him. Our product will not be the same without him, but his influence will never fade. I lost a colleague on Saturday, but more than that, I lost a friend. My heartfelt condolences to the Raleigh newsroom, but more so to Jim's family,” Mike Solarte, Director, TWC Sports Charlotte

Mike also shared his favorite memory of Jim in Monday's Vlog

“I feel extremely fortunate to have had the privilege of working with Jim for more than eight years.  I know firsthand how willing he was to help a colleague in need, no matter what the circumstances.  In addition, he developed great relationships with those he covered, was never afraid to ask a tough question, and always had a knack for lightening the mood with a well-timed joke.  This place will never be the same without him, but we honor Jim with the professionalism and diligence we display on a daily basis.  As conscientious as he was about his work, he was even more passionate about his family.  For those of you who don't know, Jim leaves behind a wonderful wife and two marvelous teenage children.  Please keep them in your prayers,” Ryan Welch, TWC Sports

“Very few people know this but Jimmy and his family live just about 5 miles down the road from me and from time to time he would randomly show up at my house with a six pack.  He used to love sitting on my back screened in porch and we would finish the six pack and talk through all of life's challenges.  We would rarely even talk about work. He also used to have an uncanny ability to do it on days we had family or friends coming over shortly after which would lead to me in a sprint to get the kids and house ready for our guests once he headed home.  We were never upset about it we just used to laugh he always randomly picked those days.  So it is fitting that today I have family at my house and we are busy working in the yard.  I would give anything to have Jimmy show up with a six pack to talk life.  Just thought I would share a wonderful side of Jim from his personal life. Eagles/Cowboys weeks at work will never be the same.  Rest in peace my friend,” Tim Boyum, Capital Tonight Anchor

“My prayers for Jim's  beautiful family and friends. He means so much to me and my family.

My father passed away in August. I came into his room at the hospice facility and a relative told me about a coworker that stopped by. She was gushing about this man who spent time talking to my dad as if he was awake and responsive, updating him on ECU football and praying with my dad. She said "That man thinks so much of you." He never told me he was going to visit.

I thanked him every chance I got. He came to the funeral and used his warmth and charm to make so many of us feel better. The sports fans were thrilled and touched.” Jon Champion, TWC News Producer

"Jim's office was right across from my desk. When he found out I was a Dallas Cowboys fan....I would come in on a regular basis to find all kinds of "decorations" on my desk. He was a Philadelphia Eagles fan and he always made sure I knew it. His death was sudden and unexpected. He was always extremely kind to me. My last conversation with him was in the parking lot about life and the future. I didn't know that would be the last time I would talk to him. We will all miss him at Time Warner Cable News. Our prayers go out to the Connors family," Anthony Austin, TWC News Anchor

“Jim was a great co-worker and consummate pro; however he was a trusted friend and got me through some rough patches in my own life. He was always there to check on me, lend an ear and a joke. With his jovial nature, love of sports & people he did develop great relationships with his viewers.  I still have this picture (attached) I took when I visited a local sub/bagel shop off of Hwy40 & Hwy42.  I had found that Jim had befriended the owner, and naturally they talked sports and when Jim found out the guy was a NY fan; he told him that if they won the World Series that year against Jim’s Phillies he’d wear their hat.  The picture on the wall says the “rest of the story”. Jim spoke at a few schools and was worried that their DVD players may not work correctly when it came time for him to give his presentations, so a few years ago he had me take his DVD and put it onto the web so that he would be able to access it if needed.  I leave you with this video as a tribute. My heartfelt condolences to the TWCN-NC family, and more importantly to Jim's family,​” Jack Horn, Creative Producer for TWC News

"It's been a very hard few days me. Our newsroom family lost a very funny, loving, caring member of our newsroom.  A man that took a 20 year old in and showed him the ropes about being a sports anchor.  A man that would tell you a joke and give you a love tap in the arm at the same time. A man that thought enough of me to introduce me to sport figures I would not have ever met on my own.  A man that told me to spend as much time with your family as much as you can because this business will take you away from them at times. A man that loved the Eagles and made sure he reminded me every day during football season.  A man that I will miss everyday calling me "Eazy E."  JC thank you for everything, but most of all thank you for being my friend and mentor," Eric Jackson, Senior Media Editor for TWC News

"As I read all the wonderful things everyone has written, I think about how I could tell you the stories of how I would accuse Jim of ripping-off Johnny Cash when he'd wear black on Fridays.  (I would call him "The Man In Black".) I could write about how he would over hear me tell a producer that we were going to have severe weather.  Then he'd look at me and ask if I was going to allow him to do Sports Night that evening.  Always with that big Jim Connors smile on his face. I could tell you how when I'd bring a tour group by the sports office, he'd tell the group that I allowed him to be on TV because weather, and my ego, trumped everything.  Again, with a huge smile.

But the one thing I really want to say is this:We can get many complements throughout our lives.  I think the best complement comes after we've passed. If at the end of life's journey, it is said that the world was a better place because that person was in it, I personally believe that is the greatest complement ever and a true testament to that person and the impact they had during their time on this planet. I firmly believe that this world was a better place because Jim Connors was in it.  As he touched our lives, in some way, may be he made us a little better along the way too," Gary Stephenson, Chief Meteorologist TWC News Raleigh

I had only been at the station for maybe two weeks and was working nightside.  It was one of the few times I boothed Sports Night and Jim was solo.  In Jim Connors fashion he was heavy.  I tried to count him out on time, and.. he stared into the camera and flipped the IFB [earpiece] out of his ear.  As I was leaving that night, so was Jim.  He told me he was getting out a little bit earlier than normal and asked if I wanted to grab a beer.  I figured he wanted to talk to me about trying to push him out of the show, but I couldn't have been more wrong.  Instead, he wanted to know my story.  Where I had gone to school, where I had worked before News 14, why I moved back to Raleigh from High Point, etc.  He insisted to pay for my beer and then call it a night. When we were leaving I told him I thought he wanted to talk to me about Sports Night.  His words have gone through my head all day.  He said with a laugh, " You're a producer.  You were doing your job.  I'm a sports anchor.  If I don't ignore you or drive you a little crazy at least once in our time together, then I'm not doing my job.  We just got it out of the way early." Danny Vivenzio, TWC News Producer

"Jim knew how passionate I was about learning how to improve professionally.  He would frequently call me into the sports office late at night after his updates were taped and I had finished the 11 to show me videos displaying great shooting, writing, editing or whatever it was that made the package "sing." Jim tricked me several times in our late night learning. He would ask if I had a minute to watch a great video.  Then he showed me a clip of a Foreigner concert.  Nicely played, sir.  And I can't count the number of times he proudly showed me the pkg he and Barger did on the band. I eventually learned to ask, "is it a Foreigner concert Jim?" before agreeing to enter his office. Jim Connors was a true gentleman and professional.  I hope somewhere in the heavens a angel gets hear Jim Connors booming voice say "Tonight on Sports Night."  I know I'll miss it down here," TWC News Anchor Cheryn Stone 

 

I personally will miss Jim walking past my desk every afternoon saying,"Hey Jersey (pronounced JOI-ZEE)" as he walked in and mutually ribbing each other for our choice of sports teams. 

If he were to see this, he might point out I haven't mentioned his love for the band Foreigner (with and without Lou Gramm). He even did a story on their performance in Cary, which he was excited to show me when he learned I liked the band, too.

In addition to his Time Warner Cable News Family, Jim leaves behind his wife, Kim, and two teenage children. 

Jim's funeral was held on Saturday, November 28th at Saint Ann's Catholic Church located in Clayton. You can watch the full video of the service here.

 

The Carolina Hurricanes Pay Tribute to Jim Connors
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