2020 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient
BA 1980, Communication
News anchor and reporter for WESH TV Orlando (Apopka, FL)
Jim Payne joined the WESH 2 News team in 2000. Jim is an experienced, award-winning journalist who believes in making a difference in his community.
Jim came to central Florida from WRAL-TV in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina. He also honed his skills at WRBL-TV in Columbus, Ga.; WKJG-TV (now WISE-TV) in Fort Wayne, Ind.; WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Ind.; WFLI-TV in Lafayette, Ind.; and the NBC News Southwest Bureau in Houston, Tex.
Jim received journalism's most prestigious honor, the George Foster Peabody Award, for his work on the month-long investigative series ""Building Homes: Building Problems."" The reports detailed problems with new home construction in central Florida. He’s also been honored with an Alfred I. duPont Award for his work on the space shuttle Columbia disaster, the Edward R. Murrow award for his work on the WESH 2 News documentary ""Code Blue: Crisis in the ER""; numerous awards from the Associated Press and Radio Television Digital News Association; the Jefferson Award for Public Service; The President’s Award for Volunteer Service; and numerous Emmys.
He’s also been named part of Orlando’s Best TV News Team by Orlando Magazine.
He was born in Green Bay, Wis., and attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., earning a bachelor's degree in communications.
Jim has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Special Olympics Florida for more than a decade, and helps fundraiser for the Edgewood Children's Ranch in Orlando. However, his most well-known community service effort takes place annually; the Jim Payne Fearless 5k for the Children raises money for Kids House, a non-profit organization assisting victims of abuse.
When he's not working, Jim enjoys running, weight training, hockey, golf and spending time with his wife, Sharon, and sons Jimmy and Michael.