All in the Family

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// photo by Agnes Lopez

For John Bachman, who began as anchor of nightly newscasts on WJAX-TV and WFOX-TV in September of last year, news runs in the family. His father, John Bachman Sr., served as an anchor for more than 30 years in Des Moines, Iowa. Despite growing up in the newsroom, Bachman didn’t come to his career naturally. “I was convinced I was going to be a doctor, precisely because my dad was in the TV business,” he says. “For a little guy, staying up way past his bedtime in the chaos of the newsroom was a thrill for me. But because I grew up being ‘John Bachman’s kid,’ I decided I wanted to do something else.” After taking the MCAT and studying biology at St. Olaf College, he came to the realization that medicine wasn’t his passion. As fate would have it, a local sports education program was in need of a host. He auditioned—with long hair, and no formal training other than osmosis—and landed it. The show never made it on air but the rest, as they say, is history.

• One of Bachman’s first news jobs was as the Rapid City Bureau Chief for a Sioux Falls, South Dakota station. “It sounds fancy, but I was a one-man band, shooting three-quarter-inch gear by myself as the only person in Rapid City covering news for this station. I had a scanner on all the time and had to drive my tape to the airport every day, put it on a plane to fly it from Rapid City to Sioux Falls so it would make it in time for the night’s 10 PM newscast.”

• Bachman lives near St. Augustine with his wife of 16 years, Jen, and their three daughters (ages nine, seven and five). “I’ve been a part of big-city life, and it’s great, but to be totally honest, I liked the idea of moving to Florida and raising my kids in St. Johns County, where the schools are fantastic and the golfing is great, too.”

• His job requires him to be interested in a range of subject matter, but politics are a personal favorite. In fact, his golden retriever is named Teddy Roosevelt. “I love to cover politics. I did a lot of economic development-type stories while I was in Atlanta and I think those are big, impactful stories for people.”

• “The best stuff we do [at Action News] is the good, investigative stories. When we uncover someone doing something they shouldn’t be doing and it’s affecting taxpayer dollars, or someone’s life, that’s the number-one service journalists can provide. But aside from that, we can also highlight what’s going on right in our community.”

• Though he says he sometimes misses the hustle and bustle of reporting, he was more than happy to settle at the anchor desk. “Reporting is not easy. It’s very taxing. You’re always chasing that next story. It’s a ton of fun, but it’s for young people. If you can survive what I have survived in the lean years of my career, you can eventually take a more successful road.”