Welti and James: Former KSL duo seem unretiring in retirement years

Published: Friday, Nov. 20 1998 12:00 a.m. MST

Since his retirement from KSL-TV in 1991, Bob Welti has gathered no moss.

An average day for the ex-weatherman might consist of putting in several hours at his agency, Welti & Call Advertising & Public Relations, or working as a literacy volunteer, or listening to the problems of inmates at the Utah State Prison (which he's been doing for 10 years.)Of the latter, Welti says, "They call it religious counseling, but it's really just listening."

And then there's the garden and the "Honey Do's" for his wife.

"I also do a little boating and water skiing," Welti said. "I tried snow skiing again one time last year, and I couldn't believe how weak my legs were. I just made it to the top of the hill and fell down."

One of Welti's favorite "retirement" pastimes is taking friends for a ride in an airplane he co-owns with two friends. On one occasion he flew an associate's neighbor - a 13-year-old boy with bone cancer - to Provo and back, allowing the young man to pilot the plane most of the way.

Welti began his television career in Salt Lake City at Ch. 4 (then called Experimental Station W-6XIS) back in 1947. He remained there until July 13, 1965, when he and sportscaster Paul James switched to KSL-Ch. 5., joining anchorman Dick Nourse and forming a formidable TV news team that would continue for the next 26 years.

And in the process, Welti and James took Ch. 4's No. 1 rating with them.

"Channel 4 dropped to third place and Channel 5 went to first," Welti says. "And 5 has been there ever since."

When Paul James retired (short-ly before Welti), he decided he was "going to learn to paint, play the piano and travel."

And now, he says, "I've been doing all three of those with a passion."

Notwithstanding their retirement, and their historically humorous on-camera badinage, Welti and James have remained good friends, seeing each other often.

"Bob's a funny guy," says James. "We have a great time together. We're really close."

"Paul's just so full of pee and vinegar," Welti says. "Nothing is halfway with him. When he tears into something, he literally tears into it."

When James retired, he only retired from television. He continues to announce BYU football and basketball on KSL Radio.

About two years ago, while announcing the BYU/Hawaii game in Hawaii, James experienced chest pains. Believing it was a freak occurrence, he had no qualms about announcing the Utah/BYU game the following week - the most important contest of the year. However, just before the game started, the chest pains returned.

The BYU football physician was called in, and after checking James' vital signs, he informed him that he needed to go to the hospital immediately. James refused and began announcing.

Even after paramedics told him he was having a heart attack, James refused to leave the game. Then, when the game was over, James drove himself to the LDS Hospital where an angiogram informed the obstinate sportscaster that he needed sextuple-bypass heart surgery.

Despite the heart attack, the bypass and major back surgery, James continues to work and play hard.

"I'm busier now than before I retired," he says. "I do (advertising) spots for Office Essentials a couple of times a month. I judge Compaq Computer's football play of the week, where I write the scripts and record it. This takes all Monday and Tuesday."

On Wednesday, he plays bridge. "On Thursday I do a (radio) program with Elaine Cannon, which runs every day." He also plays golf and travels with his wife to such far off and exotic places as Tibet, Siberia, New Guinea, Poland and the Czech Republic.

"The other day," says Welti, "Dick Nourse called me and said, `How you feeling, Bob?' And I said, `Fine. Why?' He said, `Well, I've had cancer and Paul's had a heart attack. I was just wondering how you felt.'

I said, `Well, I was doing fine until you called.' "

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