Maybe you knew him as the weatherman on channel 10 or as Mr. Knozit when you were a kid. Or maybe you happened to catch Joe Pinner’s voice on Fort Jackson’s Armed Forces Radio when he was stationed at the base in the late 1950s.
Savor the moments as Joe Pinner is officially retired from WIS news station. WIS announced the retirement of “Papa Joe” on Friday.
“Papa Joe has been a fixture on television screens in the Midlands for years,” the station said in its report. “Friday will be his last day in an official capacity with this station.”
Along with the announcement, WIS recounted Pinner’s biography.
Pinner began his career with WIS in 1963. But his journey in broadcast began long before that.
“My first public appearance was as a jack-in-the-box in a play in the first grade,” Pinner told The State contributing columnist Salley McInerney in 2016. “I loved coming out of the box. So that was it. The bug hit me. I loved the performing thing. I loved getting a laugh.”
At 15 years old, Pinner got his start by working at his home-town radio stations in New Bern and Morehead City, N.C. He went on to work at WCHL in Chapel Hill, N.C., during college. In 1955, Pinner went to work for WMBR-TV and Radio in Jacksonville, Fla. Joining the army, he came to for a stay in Columbia for the first time and managed Armed Forces Radio WFJX at Fort Jackson.
Being in radio, Pinner was hesitant to go into TV when WIS gave him a call. Pinner remembered when John Wrisley of WIS first called him in 1963.
“Wrisley wanted me to do TV, and I said, ‘But, John, I’ve always loved radio,’” Pinner recalled in The State’s 2016 column. “John said, ‘Well, Joe, there’s an opening in TV, and if you get it, we’ll work you into radio.’ ”
Only a few months in, Pinner began hosting “The Knozit Show” on WIS, a variety show for kids. He earned the title Mr. Knozit, and in 1967, Pinner and the station received a Peabody Award for children’s programming. ”The Knozit Show,” or “Mr. Knozit Show” as it came to be known, ran for 37 years.
In his near 55 years with WIS, Pinner also was anchor of The 7:00 Report, weatherman for WIS Live at 5 and co-host of WIS News Midday.
Beyond television, Pinner has been a spokesperson and pitchman for various companies and organizations. Over the years, he was a regular figure at events like the South Carolina State Fair and Irmo’s Okra Strut as well as serving as emcee and host for happenings all over Columbia and South Carolina.
“Everyone knew he was real,” Joe Daggett, a former on-air colleague of Pinner, told WIS. “For years, an event wasn’t first rate in Columbia or many other places in South Carolina unless the MC was Joe Pinner.”
Pinner received a plethora of local, state and national awards, WIS said in its biography. He received South Carolina’s highest governmental honor in 1982 when Gov. Dick Riley gave him an Order of the Palmetto. But the one award that Pinner showed off during a WIS tribute to the former newsman on Friday was his 2007 “Biggest Media Hog” award given by readers of Free-Times, the Columbia alt-weekly publication, for their annual “Best Of” honors. He’d won that recognition a number of times over the years, Pinner joked.
“This is the third time (for retirement),” Pinner said during the WIS tribute. “’ Knozit’ retired at 37 years, then at my 50th anniversary, and now after 55 years, people are saying, ‘When is he going to really retire?’”
Pinner’s longtime co-anchor Susan Aude showed up for the on-air tribute.
“He means so much,” Aude said. “Everywhere I go, still today, people will say, ‘I was on “The Knozit Show,”’ and it’s so exciting. And everybody remembers you, Joe, and thinks about you and all your energy and love for people.
“You’re an inspiration,” Aude told Pinner.
Pinner also had some advise for would-be broadcasters and news workers.
“The secret to longevity in a job,” Pinner told his fellow anchors, “work cheap and have pictures of management from Christmas parties.”