He started out in the industry earning $2 an hour and eventually worked his way up to interviewing historical figures such as César Chávez and George H.W. Bush. But now Poway's own Hal Clement, the man who has graced San Diego's broadcast journalism scene for 40 years, is calling it quits.
"It's been 40 years of daily madness and 40 years is enough," Clement told Poway Patch. "It keeps my blood pumping, but it's time for a change."
At 61 and with 13 Emmys to call his own, Clement said he has "no idea" what he's going to do, but he's ready to make the move into retirement. Sept. 28 will be his last day at the station.
A product of Pasadena, Clement ventured to America's Finest City to attend San Diego State University knowing very well journalism would be the path he'd take.
When Clement—a former aspiring sports reporter who said he idolized Vin Scully, the play-by-play reporter for the Los Angeles Dodgers—scored a permanent gig at 10News under journalist Harold Greene, he stayed.
"So many people have inspired me, but Harold Greene taught me so much about the industry," Clement said.
Clement stayed at 10News for nine years before moving to KFMB Channel 8. After a whopping 18-year stint at the station, he revisited his roots and is in his 13th year at 10News.
Though every workday plays out differently from the last, there are stories that have stood out to him.
Clement said his favorite story was in 1982 when he was sent to cover the UCSD baseball competition in China. He followed the team as it competed throughout the country and later won an Emmy for his coverage.
"It was an incredible experience to see the reaction the people had to the Westerners," he said. "I was a sports reporter at the time but this wasn't a sports story—it was a people story, a cultural story. That Emmy still holds."
But other challenging stories weren't as alluring. Clement said his most difficult stories were those involving Danielle van Dam and, more recently, Poway's Chelsea King, both murdered by sexual predators.
"My daughters went to , and seeing the ribbons on every street corner made it really hard," said Clement, who has lived in Poway since 1998. "But you have a job, so you do it."
Despite the tough stories, Clement said every day he was taught something new.
"Every single story I look back on, I think of ways I could've done it better," he said. "You never stop learning in this business."
But for some of his colleagues, they were able to learn from him.
Joel Davis, news director for 10News, said Clement has been a "leader in the newsroom."
"Hal has been an incredible asset to the station," said Davis, who noted he attempted to persuade Clement not to retire. "I hear it from viewers all the time too."
Carol LeBeau agreed about Clement's leadership.
LeBeau, who retired in 2009 and co-anchored for a number of years with Clement, said working with him was a "blessing."
"There are some co-anchors who wouldn't pull their co-anchors out of a burning building," said LeBeau. "Hal's the opposite. I always felt like somebody had my back when Hal was there. He is a journalist in the truest sense of the word and and a good man with a lot of integrity."
LeBeau said she would pass along a piece of advice to Clement that she has had to remind herself of during retirement: Don't react to breaking news. It's not your problem anymore.
Though the veteran journalist is unsure what's next for him, Clement said he's looking forward to traveling in November, something he's never been able to do in his 40-year career. November is "Sweeps" month, a time of intense competition for broadcast journalists.
More importantly, he said he made the decision to retire earlier this year knowing he lived his dream.
"I've always been where I wanted to be," he said. "I've never doubted that this was what I wanted to do. I don't know what else I could've done."
He adds with a laugh: "I wasn't going to be an engineer or doctor."
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story stated Hal Clement idolized Ben Sally instead of Vin Scully. Patch regrets the error.