Early in his career, Mr. Krebs was a lawyer and Navy officer before taking a pay cut to become a television reporter in Greensboro, NC. In 1973 he moved to WBAL-TV from Baltimore.
He arrived at Channel 4 in Washington in 1980 as a reporter who often used his legal expertise to cover stories such as the 1981 shooting of President Ronald Reagan and the subsequent trial of John Hinckley Jr .; the naval espionage case of John Walker and members of his family; the trial of DC drug leader Rayful Edmond; and the sensational case of abuse and revenge involving John and Lorena Bobbitt.
Mr. Krebs reported from the cockpit of a Navy fighter jet and in 2007 he covered the decommissioning of the USS John F. Kennedy, the Navy aircraft carrier on which he had served decades more. early.
After 14 years as a reporter, Mr. Krebs joined Barbara Harrison as co-host of the Channel 4 morning news show, now known as News4 Today. Together with meteorologist Tom Kierein and traffic reporter Jerry Edwards, they presented what has always been the area’s top-rated morning news show.
Mr. Krebs was up at 2:30 p.m. each morning preparing for the show, which ran from 5 a.m. – and ultimately 4:26 a.m. – to 7 a.m. During NBC’s “Today” show, he and Harrison performed five-minute summaries, followed by another hour of news afterwards.
“For almost two decades, I started out almost every morning with Joe sitting next to me,” Harrison said in an interview. “We came over there to broadcast the news, and I think that’s what people respected about us. Joe had a sense of calm no matter what was going on or the tragedy of the news, which radiated throughout the newsroom. He was just such a steadfast soldier next to him.
In 1999, Mr. Krebs had a heart attack that kept him from radio for six weeks. Meanwhile, viewers sent him flowers, cards and baskets of food.
“It made me realize that something about the morning – the contact you make with the viewer takes place at a very intimate time of day,” he told the Washington Post in 2004. “The house is dark and calm, people are just getting out of bed, and for viewers, there is a fidelity that comes with the wee hours of the morning. “
Mr. Krebs and the rest of the morning crew received several local Emmy Awards. He was joined by Eun Yang as a co-presenter in 2010, two years before his retirement.
While serving as the morning anchor, Mr. Krebs had a regular series of “cold” stories about unsolved crimes. He often wore a trench coat while revisiting crime scenes and interviewing witnesses and police. According to Channel 4, numerous reports produced new leads, and at least one led to the arrest and conviction of a murderer.
“Joe was unaffected at all, approaching TV news without any of the ego, arrogance or swagger that affects too many people who make a living on stage,” Channel 4’s Wendy Rieger said in a commentary. segment on Mr. Krebs aired Tuesday.
Joseph Martin Krebs Jr., the oldest of nine children, was born March 22, 1943 in Carthage, Missouri, and raised in St. Louis. Her father was an obstetrician-gynecologist, her mother a housewife and dietitian.
As a child, Mr. Krebs read the newspaper through an intercom in his family’s house.
“We were listening to the NBC News roundup,” he later said in a Channel 4 profile, “and I just thought it was the coolest thing in the world to do.”
Mr. Krebs was a graduate of Saint Louis University, from where he also obtained a law degree in 1967. He then served as a naval officer on the USS John F. Kennedy, where his duties as a public affairs officer included the taking of dignitaries, such as Princess Grace of Monaco and actor Gregory Peck, while on board tours.
He spent a year as a district attorney in St. Louis County before becoming a television reporter.
Mr. Krebs, who was a dedicated cyclist and swimmer, crossed Chesapeake Bay twice, over four miles. He has also participated in long-distance bike tours to raise funds for awareness of AIDS and other causes. He often went camping by bike with his brothers.
Mr. Krebs served for 12 years as president of the Washington-Baltimore local chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. He was on the union’s national board of directors and chaired its dissemination steering committee.
He married in 1972 to Mary Lynne Kortum. In addition to his wife, survivors include their two daughters, Emily Davis of Rockville and Anna Olson of Kensington, Maryland; five sisters, Mary Ellen Kramer of Cincinnati, Margaret Edelman of Garden City, NY, Elizabeth Kamler of St. Peters, Missouri, Susan Krebs-Smith of Gaithersburg, Maryland, and Catherine Krebs of Brooklyn; three brothers, Francis Krebs, ecumenical bishop of the Catholic Communion, and Eugene Krebs, both of St. Louis, and Robert Krebs of Gaithersburg; and three grandchildren.
Upon retiring in 2012, Mr. Krebs described how he approached his job: “Go to work every day, take your job seriously and plan to do it.”