SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Longtime NewsChannel 9 anchor Rod Wood died on Sunday, December 12, after a brief illness. Rod was surrounded by his five children. Rod, who retired in November 2020 turned 81 on Saturday, December 11.
Born Roderic Woodruff Groat, Rod was long considered the dean of Central New York broadcast journalists, covering the news in his native Syracuse and surrounding areas for more than 55 years. Rod traced his interest in the news back to his childhood when he wrote and published a neighborhood newspaper while still in elementary school. Part of his interest may have come from his parents. His father and mother met while they both were employed at the “Syracuse Journal” newspaper– although neither was in the news department.
While in high school, he took part in a Syracuse University Drama Department program and starred in a production of “Pinocchio.” He later appeared with nationally known actor Brian Donleavy in a summer stock production at the Fayetteville Country Playhouse.
Rod attended Nottingham High School and later took classes through the University of Maryland, Onondaga Community College, and University College at Syracuse University.
Uncle Sam beckoned in 1960, and Rod went into the U.S. Army. During three years of service, he served in the Military Police. After his discharge in 1963, Rod applied for a job with WOLF Radio in Syracuse and persisted until the station gave him a chance. His broadcasting work — and especially his voice — drew the interest of WNDR Radio in 1964, and he was offered a job broadcasting news. Three years later, Rod moved from WNDR to WHEN, where he became the radio station’s morning news anchor and then news director in 1974. He also served as weekend anchor on WHEN-TV during the nine years he was on James Street.
Rod joined WIXT (now WSYR-TV) in 1976 as a news anchor. He spent over 55 years on the Central New York airwaves covering the news. The Syracuse native was honored by the Associated Press and many other organizations for news coverage and community involvement. He was also honored for consumer education through reporting, for his regular “Consumer Reports” features. Rod served as president of the Syracuse Press Club in 1976 and was honored with a plaque on the Press Club’s Wall of Distinction in 2001. He and longtime co-anchor Carrie Lazarus were named to the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2011. Rod and Carrie anchored together for more than 25 years, making them one of the longest-running anchor teams in the nation.
At his retirement, Rod was honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman John Katko and was awarded an honorary degree from Onondaga Community College. The NewsChannel 9 Newsroom was also named in Rod’s honor.
Rod lost his wife of 52 years, Nanette, in May of 2020. Their family includes five grown children (John, Chris, Rebecca, Elizabeth, and Priscilla) and ten grandchildren.
A statement from Rod’s family:
We are beyond sad to report that our beloved father Rod passed away this past Sunday evening.
He was surrounded by his children when God called him home. On the day prior, he had turned 81.
Just a few short weeks ago, he was diagnosed with an inoperable and aggressive cancer. He fought very hard but was unable to overcome it.
A native son, he loved Syracuse and Central New York above all other places. Nothing brought him more joy than serving and delivering the news to our community. His pride in Syracuse and its rich history, past and present, was unceasing. If you were a Central New Yorker, you had a friend in Rod Wood. And we were fortunate to call him ‘Dad’.
Thank you for all the love and support you showed him from the beginning of his career in 1963.
We will miss him beyond measure!
Rod’s Kids, The Groat Family: John, Chris, Liz, Becky, and Priscilla
Services will be announced at a later time.