On Politics
12:52 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Jim Taricani to hang up the trenchcoat

After four decades as one of New England’s top investigative reporters, WJAR’s Jim Taricani is retiring.

Known for his investigative work and political and public affairs reporting, Taricani could cover any story and did. He is smart, aggressive and a tough questioner.  He’s been in this market since Phil Noel was governor.

Jim always took his job seriously, but never himself. Whether at a mob trial or covering a governor’s press conference, Taricani’s rapier, often self-deprecating, wit, leavened the moment. He and his close friend, mentor and competitor, the late Jack White of WPRI, for many, many years set the standard for broadcast investigative reporting in southeastern New England.

Except for a stint in the 1990s as press secretary for Gov. Lincoln Almond, Taricani has spent his career digging up tough organized crime and investigative pieces. He is also the ultimate survivor; he underwent a heart transplant in the early 1990s but it never really slowed him down; he continues to do great work. He’ll retire in about three weeks.

Taricani is that rare television reporter who is literate and also a fluid and gifted writer - as his many long form journalism pieces for Rhode Island Monthly attest.

He is also from the generation of television reporters who came of age in an era when the values of journalism trumped the cheesy marketing ( new definition of cheesy: Channel 10’s Sochi ice sculptures studio outside the skating rink in Kennedy Plaza)  and sensational nonsense ( reporters doing on-air handstands) that too often rules the medium these days. A staunch defender of the First Amendment, Taricani famously spent time under house arrest for his work on the corruption sage of Buddy Cianci’s second time around as Providence mayor.

Taricani covered it all, partly because his every man persona allowed him to fit in everywhere, from Hope’s to the Hope Club and everywhere else in between. In retirement he plans to work part-time with his old WJAR sidekick, Dyana Koelsch, who was a great political reporter before entering the public relations business.  Best wishes and a tip of the Dewar’s (on the rocks) for a great journalist and even better person as he caps a terrific career. And to his wonderful spouse, Laurie White.