Following his graduation in 1970, Gardner was a desk assistant, writer and producer for all-news WINS Radio in New York. In 1972, Gardner joined WFAS Radio in White Plains, New York as a reporter. Shortly after arriving at the station, Gardner was appointed News Director.
In 1974, WKBW-TV offered him a job as a news reporter in Buffalo. Within six months, Gardner added the role of weekend anchor and substitute weekday anchor to his duties. As a very young and still green anchorman, Gardner was pressed into his first "big" story when the station's veteran anchorman was on vacation, and Richard Nixon resigned the presidency. In January of 1976, Gardner launched WKBW's noon news broadcast, which immediately became the highest rated noon newscast in the market. Gardner joined WPVI-TV in Philadelphia on June 1st, 1976 as a reporter and anchor of the Noon News. He became the station's anchor of the 5:30pm news in November of 1976. On May 11, 1977, Gardner assumed his current position of anchor of Action News at 6pm and 11pm.
Gardner has won numerous awards, but like his colleagues at Action News, he is much prouder of the special relationship he and his co-workers have established with the viewers of the Philadelphia region. Gardner feels his "awards panel" is made up of the millions of viewers who regularly rely on Action News for information about their neighborhoods, their communities, the region, the country and the world. Gardner and his colleagues have always understood that for a particular viewer, a controversy involving local school board policy may be just as important, or even more so, than a major "world wide" story that will grab the big headlines.
While many local, national and international stories do stand out, Gardner is most proud of his longevity and consistency, being there at 6 and 11 day in and day out for more than three decades.
Jim Gardner feels that a successful anchor must be a good reporter. Gardner has left the confines of the newsroom and the studio to follow John Cardinal Krol to the Vatican for the death of Pope Paul VI. That story was also significant for the fact that it was the first time that Action News used satellite technology to send reports from overseas back to Philadelphia. Gardner also traveled to The Rein Mein Air Force Base near Frankfurt, West Germany to report on the return of America's hostages held in Lebanon. Jim Gardner reported from Russia on the demise of the Soviet Empire, and he traveled to Israel and the West Bank to tell that historic story from the point of view of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Gardner has covered every Democratic and Republican political convention since 1980, and has interviewed every President and nearly every major Presidential candidate since 1976.
Jim Gardner's community obligations are important to him. He has long been committed to the efforts of the Federation of Allied Jewish Appeal. He is grateful for the opportunity to devote time and resources to the Friends' Central School in Wynnewood and to his alma mater, Columbia University. Gardner was named Columbia's Philadelphia area alumnus of the year in 1985. Since 1987, one student each year studying journalism or broadcasting at Temple University has been awarded the Jim Gardner Scholarship to help pay for his or her education.
Jim Gardner, who has four children, lives with his wife Amy in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania.