Jim Kincaid was born in 1934 in Houston, Texas, but was raised in Arkansas. He often tells his audiences that his parents moved there "as soon as they heard about it."
His education came at the hands of the Arkansas Public School System, rated at the time as ranking forty-seventh among the forty-eight states in the Union. He says, tongue-in-cheek, that Arkansas's motto at the time was "Thank God for Mississippi." But Kincaid insists that the quality of that education was actually quite good, concentrating on English, Math, History and Social Studies, Science, Geography, and Agriculture, all rounded off with Latin for dessert.
It was in Arkansas that Kincaid got his start in broadcasting, going to work at age fifteen for a local radio station before he finished high school in Russellville, Arkansas.
UNCLE SAM CALLS
He worked his way through several stations in bigger towns until he received his draft notice in 1956. Kincaid dodged the draft by volunteering for three years of service in the Army rather than the two required by the Selective Service System, thus enabling him to have at least some say in his military service specialty.
After basic training he was assigned to the American Forces Network Headquarters station in Frankfurt, Germany, where he concentrated on news broadcasting, radio documentary production, and acquiring a working knowledge of German. His lifelong idol, Edward R. Murrow, visited AFN during Kincaid's service there, and was so impressed with the young soldier that he promised, and came through, on helping him make his connections in big time broadcasting once his military service was completed.
In 1960, Kincaid joined the staff of WWL-TV in New Orleans, where he reported, anchored, and earned the National Gold Bell Award for a documentary on the life of Pope John XXIII. Later, his obituary of this remarkable and revolutionary Pope earned high praise from all who heard him deliver it on the day Pope John died. It can be quoted in its entirety here. "There was a man who came from God, and his name was John. Today he has gone home."
Kincaid's career took him to St. Louis, a television station owned and operated by the CBS network where he covered the early development of the space program, and later to WCBS-TV in New York, the flagship station of the CBS network.
After a critically successful few seasons covering "one of a kind" stories on the streets of New York, he accepted an offer from the ABC network to become a full fledged correspondent, seeking the travel and adventure such a position implied. And it was so, first with the space program, then an assignment to Viet Nam where the war was still in full swing.
After many months covering the war, the human tragedy, and the political deterioration of Viet Nam, Kincaid was transferred to Hong Kong, not by his own doing, A military helicopter in which Kincaid was riding was shot down by rocket fire near the village of Bu Dop. Jim sustained a broken back in the crash that required surgery and a lengthy recuperation. During the following six months, Kincaid got himself to the ABC Bureau daily to read the wires and report on China.
Back in the States, he resumes his "one of a kind" story tradition, covered national politics, and earned the prestigious Peabody Award for his series of stories on the coal industry and the State of West Virginia.
In 1978, Kincaid left ABC to become the local news anchor for WVEC TV13. During his time with WVEC, he returned to Vietnam to do a special series of stories covering the changes that had taken place over the previous 25 years. While shooting the award-winning documentary, Kincaid reunited a Vietnamese refugee with her family in Jo Chi Minh City. The woman, Norfolk resident Thao Nguyen, left Vietnam by boat in the 1970s with her infant daughter, and had not seen her family in over 20 years.
Kincaid also wrote a documentary in 1995 entitled “D-Day to VEDay.” Three D-Day veterans from the Norfolk area accompanied Jim to several historic World War II sites. In 1996, Kincaid stepped down as WVEC's primary news anchor; he continued with the station as a commentator until his retirement.
Jim has written four books. Notes to my Friends, Noted from Elam, and Notes on Politics, were all collections of his television commentaries, and Theo, a story about his beloved father-in-law, the painter Theodore Wildanger.
Kincaid retired in 1997 and lives with his wife Catherine at Elam, Virginia, the location of which has been a curiosity to his viewers for more than two decades. There, he spends his days doing freelance voiceover production and writing a little, but most happily baby-sitting his granddaughter Tra My, an orphan from Viet Nam adopted by his daughter and her husband in 2002 and serving as spokesperson for Reverse Mortgage Pro since 2001.