Looking Back at five years of "The Final 5"

"Come see me when you get in," said the email from my news director.

That’s never good. I should know, having been the recipient of quite of a few of those through my career.

We learned a few days prior that FOX 5 would be expanding into the 11:30 p.m. time slot, which has happened at some stations across the country. We didn’t know who’d be doing the new half-hour, but having worked at other network affiliates across the country, it usually meant a repeat of the preceding show.

So, I went into the bosses’ office, unsure what to expect.

"I want you to do the 11:30," he said. "It’ll be different. We’re going to focus on politics, just you. I think it’ll be great, and we’re going call it "The Final 5."

He assigned evening producer Christie Barbour to work with me and come up with a format for the show. The funny thing was, I long envisioned doing something like this.

In my career, few things intrigued me more than politics. As a kid, I stayed up late with the AM radio under my pillow, listening to election returns. My late cousin Anthony, who was the council president of my hometown, got me interested in how everyday people could help enact positive change. In fact, when I was ten, I drafted a petition to repair the local playground, and even helped raise money to make it happen.

When I got into broadcasting, I enjoyed covering the otherwise boring town council meetings and talking to decision makers. That’s why when it came to "The Final 5," I wanted to TALK about politics in a way that made it feel more local and accessible. When things would get serious, we would present it with urgency and proper context. When the news took a turn for the absurd, we would have fun with it, as much as we possibly could.

Over the last five years, I’ve welcomed hundreds of guests from all across the political spectrum – both in studio and through the magic of Skype and Zoom. In fact, when I introduce guests as "a friend of the show," I mean it! When they volunteer their time and talents to join me, it means the world. We don’t seek to yell at each other on "The Final 5." Instead, it’s about listening and sharing unique points of view.

Many of my FOX 5 colleagues have joined me on the show as well, including the great Tom Fitzgerald, whose wise counsel and friendship have made my time here all the more rewarding.

What will the next 5 years hold? It’s hard to tell. I do know this, however: I am grateful to those of you who tune in, but even more so when you come back the next night. That’s when I know we’ve done something right.

Watch "The Final 5" with Jim Lokay weeknights on FOX 5, on-air, online, and on our app

Watch "The Final 5" anniversary special on YouTube.