NBC4 anchor Wendy Rieger retires Friday

The time has come to say goodbye to a longtime staple of the D.C. news scene.

Wendy Rieger has been an afternoon anchor on NBC4 for a quarter century. But that comes to an end when she retires on Friday.

So what’s next?

“I’m going to give myself permission to just exhale. It’s been a long career,” Rieger said. “I think everyone especially in this town which is so go, go, go, go, go, go, go, has to give themselves permission to do that.”

That is not always easy for a woman who describes herself as a bit antsy when she tries to relax. But she has learned a trick to relaxation — poetry.

“I’ve always been a big fan of poetry. I just love Mary Oliver and W. S. Merwin,” she said. “I have specific poems I pick up and start reading them. It turns the volume down in my head and kind of helps me slow down.”

Rieger, who revealed over the summer she’d had brain surgery to remove a tumor, says her retirement has been in the works for a couple years and she is looking forward to what the future holds.

“Anytime you can get a blank page that you get to start writing on, when you got your life ahead of you, that’s kind of glorious and what we worked for,” she said.

The ‘we’ she is referring to includes her husband. He retired a few months ago.

“We have a 30-acre farm out in Rappahannock County,” she said, ”We want to kind of figure out what to do with that land. We keep wondering if we’re going to do an animal sanctuary out there, a farm animal sanctuary.”

She’s also excited about watching the next generation.

“I’ve had the light on me for 33 years. It’ s time to redirect it towards them and that’s exciting for me,” she said. “By going to pursue what I want to do I allow them to pursue what they want to do.”

Rieger, who also worked at WTOP, started at NBC Washington in 1988 as a reporter and says that allowed her some amazing adventures including a spontaneous three week trip to New Zealand to cover a multi-continent custody case, and being able to do Prince William’s and Kate Middleton’s wedding as well as all the hurricanes she’s known for covering.

“It’s pretty amazing to be able to be that close and in the embrace of nature when it is that dynamic,“ she said.

So, how is she adjusting to the idea of going from a known TV anchor to normal life? She’s not worried about any sort of legacy related to her job.

“People think their relevance is predicated on what they do for a living. I think we need to banish that from our lives. I think that is one of the sicknesses of this city. You have to be a big deal or you’re irrelevant. That’s toxic.”

Michelle Murillo

Michelle Murillo has been a part of the WTOP family since 2014. She started her career in Central Florida before working in radio in New York City and Philadelphia.

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