MOLINE, Ill. — Jim Mertens started his Quad Cities career in February 1995, when he was first hired to be the main anchor of the evening shows.
From there, he held many different on-air positions at the station. He anchored and produced the weekend evening shows, was an evening show reporter and created the 6:30 p.m. newscast.
He stayed on GMQC until 2015. During that time, WQAD added the 4:30 a.m. newscast and what is now known as "GMQC at 11," which started as a half-hour show before expanding to one hour.
While on the morning show shift, Jim helped shape WQPT's first local programming after the PBS affiliate was acquired by Western Illinois University. He has anchored "The Cities" since its creation in 2010.
Jim returned to the evening shows, anchoring the 5, 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. shows in 2015. He created "This Week with Jim Mertens" in 2019, a public affairs show that airs 10 a.m. Sundays on WQAD.
In his 27 years here at WQAD News 8, he has covered nearly every aspect of Quad Cities' news. Here are some stories that he considers his career highlights:
- Covering the first organ transplant between a black man and a white man in the state of Iowa.
- Profiling a family dealing with their toddler suffering from a life-threatening illness.
- A special report marking the 25th anniversary of the Joyce Klindt murder
- "Remembering Reagan," a special on Ronald Reagan and his ties to the area after the 40th president died in 2004.
- Covering every Iowa caucus since 1996.
- A fire that destroyed the historic Tama building in downtown Burlington.
- A live broadcast focusing on the tornado that hit Stockton, Iowa, in 1995, won an Edward R. Murrow award.
- Creating "Snow Desk" to broadcast live outside the studio during snowstorms.
- The on-air coverage of the breach of the Davenport levee along the Mississippi River on April 30, 2019.
When Jim first started on the 10 p.m. news in 1995, he closed the show with the tagline "Sleep well, Quad Cities." When he was on the morning show, it morphed to "Make the most of your day, Quad Cities."
Jim credits another long-time anchor, Jim King, for the inspiration for his tagline. King, who passed unexpectedly in 1999, was known for his close of "Thank you for inviting us into your home."
"I've been so happy to spend half my life in the Quad Cities, a place that will always be home to me. I wish I could have driven over the new bridge more! But it's great to see the progress here since 1995 and it continues to grow and has become one of the coolest places in the Midwest," Mertens said.
We will miss you, Jim! KCRG is lucky to have you! Now go make the most of your time in Cedar Rapids.