Retirement Living, Minus Shuffleboard

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JOE CIARDIELLO FOR USN&WRHe was 66 and just plain bored after over 40 years with NBC and the Today Show. "I'd covered four presidents," says John Palmer, "and there's a lot of 'Been there, done that' to it." So in 2002, "I went to [Washington Bureau Chief] Tim Russert and said, 'I just don't want to do this anymore.'" A bachelor until he was 46, Palmer still had three school-age daughters and worried he was missing too much time with them. "I was married to NBC all of those years. I was the guy who always had the suitcase by the door," he tells us. In retirement, a new life called: family, golf, and writing.

Then last year, with his youngest a senior in high school, he got a call from a new cable station, Retirement Living Television. "I didn't even know what it was," he laughs. He does now, hosting three shows and acting as a real-life demonstration of many in today's retirement class: working for fun, not just a paycheck. Geared for the 55-plus crowd, the network created by Maryland retirement community bigwig John Erickson is growing fast. And covering real, major issues. "We don't do shuffleboard shows," says Palmer. Now a sharp-looking 71, Palmer sounds almost giddy about his 10-day-a-month work schedule. And, he adds, "my wife has noticed a new spring in my step when I get up."