‘The voice of Utah’: Dick Nourse, legendary KSL anchor for 43 years, dies at 83

“I was in love with my job and I wanted to be there, more than anything,” Nourse said of his 1964 to 2007 career in KSL’s newsroom.

(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) KSL anchor Dick Nourse, shown here with co-anchor Deanie Wimmer, on his last newscast in 2007. KSL announced Nourse's death on May 18, 2023, at age 83.

Dick Nourse, who delivered the news to generations of Utahns as the lead anchor at KSL-TV for 43 years, has died.

Nourse’s death was reported by KSL on Thursday. He was 83. No cause of death was mentioned, though the station said Nourse was a three-time cancer survivor. He had retired in 2007, after appearing on his first newscast at KSL-Channel 5 in 1964.

Driving from Colorado in 1964 in “a brand-new ’63 Corvair,” he told co-anchor Bruce Lindsay during a 2007 retirement tribute on KSL, Nourse parked on Social Hall Avenue, where Salt Lake City’s three TV stations had their offices at the time.

Nourse first applied for a job at KUTV-Channel 2. He said they told him, “you’re a greenhorn. Come back in five years.” The next day, he went to what was then KCPX (now KTVX)-Channel 4, and got a similar response. A few days later, he went to KSL, which gave him an audition — and, a few days later, a job.

Within a year of his start at KSL, Nourse assembled a team — pinching weatherman Bob Welti and sportscaster Paul James from Channel 4 — to create one of the longest-running anchor teams in Utah broadcasting history, according to KSL.

(Al Hartmann | Salt Lake Tribune) KSL anchor Dick Nourse in 2007.

Welti began his television career in 1948 at the pioneering KDYL-TV (now KTVX), Salt Lake City’s first TV station. KSL hired him and James away to work with Nourse in the 1960s, and the trio embodied KSL’s on-air personality for decades as the station rose to lead the market.

The trio worked together until 1991, when James and Welti both retired; from 1979 to 1991, Nourse was paired with a co-anchor, with Lindsay and Shelley Thomas alternating in the role.

“There definitely was a chemistry there that you could feel because people really welcomed us into their homes,’’ Nourse told The Salt Lake Tribune in an interview at his retirement in 2007.

At that time, Beth King with the national office of the Society of Professional Journalists said she believed Nourse could have held the record for the longest tenure of any local news anchor, after Chris Clark from WTVF in Nashville retired earlier that year after 41 years.

Nourse “is a consummate professional,’’ said KSL’s then-news director, Con Psarras. “He was always there, he never called in sick, he’s hard-working, and he cares about the community he works in.”

Before his retirement, KSL viewers had followed Nourse through his well-publicized battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer in the lymphatic system that he had beaten.

In the Tribune interview, he called the highlight of his journalistic career visiting Utah soldiers in Vietnam for a monthlong reporting trip in 1967. In 2019, he described that trip to KSL reporter Carole Mikita, as she visited him at his St. George home.

“So many had the response when we left, ‘Will you call my mother and tell her I’m alright?’ Then I proceeded to call all the mothers,” he said emotionally, “‘Hey, Tom wanted me to call you and say, ‘Hi,’ I talked with him.”

He returned to Vietnam in 1997 for a follow-up story.

(Al Hartmann | Salt Lake Tribune) KSL anchor Dick Nourse in 2007.

Nourse was born in 1940 in Grand Junction, Colo., and began his broadcasting career at radio stations KDTA and KREX there, before he moved to Provo to attend Brigham Young University. He joined KSL and advanced from reporter to anchor after just six months.

“I was excited to be there, Carole, I really lived it and I loved it,” Nourse told Mikita in 2019, about working in the KSL newsroom. “I was in love with my job and I wanted to be there, more than anything.”

Nourse’s trademark deep baritone had been affected somewhat by treatments for throat cancer, Mikita noted in her 2019 report, “but not his sense of pride and responsibility” in journalism.

“The thing that’s disturbed me the most is today’s ‘fake news’ comments,” Nourse told her. “I really, really get upset when I hear that. Journalism is a fine profession and one we will always need, regardless of technology. Somebody has to find the answers for you and tell you and that’s what we do.”

Prominent Utahns posted tributes to Nourse on Twitter:

(Al Hartmann | Salt Lake Tribune) KSL anchor Dick Nourse in 2007.

Former Gov. Gary Herbert: “Like many Utahns, I grew up with Dick Norris being the voice of our news each day. Dick, Bob Welti, and Paul James were the Holy Trinity of Utah News. He is a legend in Utah broadcasting and his voice will be missed.”

Former Congressman Jason Chaffetz: “For so long he was the voice of Utah.”

Utah Speaker of the House Brad Wilson: “Dick was one of a kind — he defined Utah media and will leave a lasting legacy.”

Tom Holmoe, Brigham Young University athletic director: “Back in my college days at BYU I tried to tune in to watch Dick Nourse as much as I could. Together with my good friend and BYU Coug broadcast legend Paul James and weatherman Bob Welti, that’s how I consumed the news of the day. The trio have all passed now — but not forgotten.”

Nourse is survived by his second wife, Debi, and their four children. He and his first wife, Jan, divorced in 1989, and she died in 1997. Their daughter, Giana, died in 2007 at age 22.

Memorial services are pending.