Former NBC commentator John Palmer, 75, has spent more than 40 years covering the news in all of the most exciting places. "I traveled the world on somebody else's dime," he says.
After seven years on the "Today" show and three decades in the White House covering four presidents, from Jimmy Carter through George H.W. Bush, Palmer was 68 years old and ready for something new. He took his retirement, left the business, wrote a book and perfected his golf game. By 2006, he'd had enough rest and relaxation and was ready for work.
He got back in the TV game, taking a job anchoring syndicated shows for Retirement Living TV, or RLTV, a network formed by John Erickson, founder of Erickson Living retirement communities. His current project is hosting "Spirit of America," a news show about retirees who have launched a new life. It debuts at 9 p.m. tonight, and will be seen weekly at 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings on RLTV, which is available in 24 states with Comcast Cable.
Like the people he's featuring, working keeps Palmer busy and involved. It also helps pay the bills. Palmer says he was always a good saver -- his father drummed that into him -- but he was a long-time bachelor who got married for the first time when he was 46. He and his wife, Nancy Doyle Palmer, have three daughters, one of whom is in college. "I'm still paying tuition," he says.
In 2008, when the economy tanked, Palmer says he was heavily invested in stocks and other equities. "About half of my savings disappeared in the downturn," and his nest egg is still reduced by about one-third, he says.
But one of the things he did right in retirement, Palmer thinks, is staying in Washington, D.C. It keeps him connected to the world where he worked and where news continues to happen. "I'm not interested in leaving my friends and going somewhere to sit on the beach. I want to be where there are opportunities to network and stay involved."
His retirement planning remains a work in progress. If he had it to do over, Palmer says he would have worked another year for NBC; "But that's water over the dam." Next, he plans to try selling his services to do voice-overs, preferably for historical programming -- one of his passions. And he's hoping to sell the memoir he's written. "I want to keep engaged in the news in any way I can," he says.