Joe Birch

Joe Birch can be seen on WMC Action News 5 weekdays at 5, 6, and 10 p.m. Joe marks his 40th year of service to WMC Action News 5 and its viewers in 2018. Tennessee’s first television station hired Joe on May 20, 1978, the day he graduated from Christian Brothers University. Joe has served WMC viewers his entire career. In 2014, Joe was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame. The Emmy Award winning News Anchor was invited to join the Silver Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Mid-South Chapter, 2009). Joe has traveled across America and around the world for WMC. He spent 25 days in Atlanta, covering Memphians and Mid-Southerners attending the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Birch visited the People's Republic of China for three weeks in 1986 to cover a visit by representatives of Memphis In May International Festival which honored China in 1987. The newsman went on assignment to Italy in 1992 to prepare a documentary on the Memphis bound Wonders cultural series exhibition from the Vatican Museums. During that assignment, Birch met Pope John Paul II and recorded the exchange for broadcast on WMC Action News 5. Birch told the Holy Father, "The people of Memphis send you their warmest greetings." The Pontiff responded in his Polish accent, "God-a-bless-Tennessee." Closer to home, Birch has won honors from the National Council on Problem Gambling for his reports on the positive economic and damaging social implications of casinos in the Mid-South. Birch has won numerous awards for his charitable and civic endeavors. In December 2016, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital honored Joe for 15 consecutive years of participation in the St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend since the inaugural event in 2002. Joe has completed five 26.2 mile full marathons (2002, '04, '06, '08, '10) and 13.1 mile half marathons (2003, '05, '07, '09, ’11 & ’12, ‘13*,’14 , ’15, ’16 & 17) and while slow to reach the finish line has completed each event and has raised in excess of $100,000 during the St. Jude Marathons and Half Marathons. In 2009, Joe Birch was named "Newsmaker of the Year" by the Memphis Gridiron Show, Inc., an award cherished by the newsman because it had once been bestowed on Joe's hero, the late entertainer Danny Thomas, Founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Joe's other 2009 honors include Volunteer Fund Raiser of the Year from the Association of Fund Raising Professionals (AFP/ Memphis Chapter) as well as the Ave Maria Award for years of service to the Ave Maria Nursing Home in Bartlett, TN. In 2008, Christian Brothers University made the newsman the 14th recipient of the Maurelian Medal, CBU's highest award for service to the University or community. Diversity Memphis (formerly the National Council of Christians and Jews) named Birch 2008 Humanitarian of the Year along with four other Memphians noted for community service. Birch received the 2008 St. Peter the Rock Award for his service to St. Peter Villa, the nursing home and rehabilitation center where Joe's beloved father spent the last year and a half of his life. In 2007, the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association introduced the Joe Birch Media Award, presented to those who use the tools of communications to enlighten the community about MIFA's myriad of services. Birch was the first winner of the award. He has delivered MIFA Meals on Wheels (Route #12) once a week for nearly 20 years... In this time, Joe has been blessed with countless friendships with MIFA clients. One client, Ms. Rosa Wright of 597 Mississippi Boulevard, was 105 years of age when she asked Joe and others to repair her dilapidated home. Birch prepared a news report about the "Matriarch of Mississippi Boulevard" who was radically independent and refused to move even in the face of drug dealers who pedaled illegal substances just a few feet from Ms. Wright's front door. The 2004 news report prompted responses from many kind souls and led to the complete renovation of Ms. Wright's residence by the good people of Le Moyne Owen College Community Development Corporation, the Home Depot and many others. At no cost to her, Ms. Wright enjoyed her refurbished home until the summer of 2007. She died December 7, 2007 at the age of 109. The Memphis and Shelby County Optimist Respect for Law Committee named Joe Birch "Citizen of the Year" in 2007 for his Taking Back Our Neighborhoods reports and other community building efforts. Birch is the Co-Founder and longtime Race Director of what’s now the Orion 5K Run-Walk for St. Patrick Community Outreach, Inc., a 501 © 3 non-profit agency that serves children and families in 38126, the city's most impoverished zip code. A crowd of 1,708 runners, plus their families and enjoyed the 2018 Orion 5K which ends with a magnificent party on the east side of FedEx Forum. You are cordially invited to join in the fun at the 23rd annual charity 5K the second June 8, 2019. (The run was formerly known as the Gibson Guitar 5K for St. Patrick Community Outreach, Inc,) In the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Birch visited New York City to deliver the $527,000 WMC collected to help the United Way of New York City and the agencies and people they serve. The Memphis Chapter of UNICO, the Italian-American service organization, bestowed their community service award on Joe in 2004. Associated Catholic Charities honored Joe in 2002 with the Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Service Award, the agency's highest honor for community service. Birch is deeply involved in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. His beloved father suffered from Alzheimer's for fourteen years until his death in 2002. Joe regularly serves as emcee of Alzheimer's Association events, including the annual Memory Walk. Birch was the honoree at the 2008 Alzheimer's Association of the Mid-South Gala. Christian Brothers University named Joe “Trustee Emeritus” after serving 12 years on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater (1978). Joe and native Memphian Robyn Davis Birch (CBU 1977) were married in June 1983. They have been blessed with two sons. Joseph III is a 2011 Honors graduate of his parents’ alma mater as well as the Cecil C. Humphries School of Law at the University of Memphis (2014). Joseph III is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) for Legacy Wealth Management http://www.legacywealth.com/joseph-birch.html in Memphis. Matthew was named Outstanding Literature and Languages Graduate by the CBU faculty in 2014. He is fluent in Mandarin and spent the summer 2012 teaching English in Shenyang, China. Matthew now serves as an Assistant Category Manager for AutoZone, Inc. The Birch family resides in Hein Park in Midtown Memphis, Tennessee. *The 2013 St. Jude Memphis Marathon was canceled due to an ice storm bur Joe and other so called “St. Jude Heroes” still raised a significant gift for the children’s research hospital.

Recent Articles by Joe

  ‘Mighty Lights’ bridge lighting underway

Memphis’ oldest footrace welcomes star-studded trio this weekend

Anne Frank’s stepsister to speak in Memphis Oct. 16

A victory for cyclists & cancer patients: 8th annual Ride to Rosemary

Memphis peace promoters condemn ‘atrocious’ violence, encourage conflict resolution

Memphis Mission of Mercy envisions new hospital

Memphis bridge lighting honors those lost to drug addiction

Rogue Mustang bucks mechanic, crosses busy Memphis street

Gibson Memphis looking to hire workers for manufacturing

Memphians mourn death of formerly homeless friend to many

Orion 5k offers major moola for record-breaking speedsters

Trump becomes 'X-Factor' in 2018 TN U.S. Senate race

81st annual Strawberry Festival brings crowds to Humboldt

Inaugural Orion 5K rises on Memphis running horizon

Pope Francis accepts Memphis Image of Marchers at Lorraine Motel

From Martin to Martin with Martin: A Day of Prayer and Reconciliation

Public Service Awards honor Drug Court judge, Shelby County CAO

Rhodes College earns A+ for economic impact on Memphis

Shelby County election features new faces, game of musical chairs

Longtime WMC reporter, anchor Ben Watson dies at 63