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After 41 years in TV, Denver7 news director Holly Gauntt announces retirement

Gauntt has spent the last five-and-a-half years at the helm of Denver7’s news operation, where she leaves behind a legacy of achievement and service to Colorado.
Posted: 11:00 AM, Jan 17, 2023
Updated: 2023-01-17 13:00:53-05

DENVER — After an illustrious four decades in television news, Denver7 news director Holly Gauntt has announced her plans to retire.

Gauntt has spent the last five-and-a-half years at the helm of Denver7’s news operation, where she leaves behind a legacy of achievement and service to Colorado.

Denver7 won back-to-back national Edward R. Murrow Awards for overall excellence during Gauntt’s tenure. In 2022, she was named to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Heartland Emmy chapter’s Silver Circle, an honor given to those who have made significant contributions to television during a career spanning at least 25 years.

Also the recipient of multiple individual Emmy and Murrow awards for news excellence, Gauntt says her proudest achievements have been the team awards.

“Those are the most gratifying because everyone plays a role,” she said.

Gauntt, a graduate of CU Boulder, will end her career in news in the same place it began – her home city of Denver. She has worked for each of the four network stations in town, starting in 1983 with part time work at KUSA, where she put together anchor Ed Sardella’s opinion poll and later wrote for the station’s 1984 elections coverage. She would then spend two years working as a producer for KCNC.

She left Denver in 1987 for what she thought would only be a couple of years, but her career would take her to newsrooms in New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Seattle before returning to Colorado to care for her brother, who has since passed away.

In her return to Denver, Gauntt spent nearly three years as the news director at KDVR and KWGN before moving across Speer Boulevard to Denver7 in 2017.

Gauntt has led coverage of several major, national news events during her career. She was the managing editor KOCO in Oklahoma City in 1995 when the federal building was attacked, and was the assistant news director at WTTG in Washington, D.C. during the 9/11 terrorist attacks, among others.

“The seminal moments for me have been the big stories, not just because of the scope but because people put aside their differences and support their neighbors,” she said. “That was so clear after the Oklahoma City bombing. It was a horrific moment in history perpetrated by two men but galvanized the thousands that came together to help.”

“It’s when I really learned how much we can and should use our powers for good.”

That’s the mantra of Denver7 Gives, the station’s 501(c)(3) in partnership with the Scripps Howard Fund, the launch of which Gauntt oversaw in June of 2019. In the nearly four years since, Denver7 Gives has raised nearly $2 million for Coloradans in need, including more than $700,000 for victims of the 2021 Marshall Fire in Boulder County.

Gauntt led a similar fund during her time at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

“I’m so incredibly proud of the good we’ve done through our journalism and just as importantly through our community projects,” she said. “We’ve used every penny of Denver7 Gives donations to change the lives of people victimized by disasters, scams and misfortune.”

Gauntt will retire to South Carolina with her wife, Glinda, where she says she’ll enjoy a slower speed for a while. She admits, though, that she doesn’t plan to quit the TV business cold turkey and could one day contribute to a news operation through freelance work.

Gauntt’s last day at Denver7 will be April 28. The station has begun its search for her successor.