Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Few All-Time Bay Area TV Anchor Greats

**Van Amburg --KGO-TV
Amburg was the dean of Bay Area TV journalism. Sure, he had his critics; after all, KGO-TV's hugely successful "NewsScene" was the birthplace of "Happy Talk"--that 70's news lexicon and format. But Amburg was the centerpiece of SF TV news nirvana. His dogged and passionate delivery was appointment TV. And who could forget that "circle7" lapel. Priceless.

**Dave McElhatton--KPIX
First and foremost, "Mac" was a nice man. A true gentle giant. Perhaps it was his radio roots that played a part. McElhatton guided PIX well over two decades with a level-headed approach and was respected and well-liked both by his peers and most especially, those at Channel 5. Miss him.

**Dennis Richmond--KTVU
Richmond took Channel 2 News into ratings dominance for over four decades. From a news intern, writer, producer all the way to one of the most watched and most successful news programs ever-- the vaunted, "10 0'Clock News". It was that franchise that made KTVU the top SF TV news dog and Richmond, the no-gimmick, all-calm, cool and collected anchor in these parts. Richmond retired in May, 2008. Seems like only yesterday.

*Pete Wilson--KGO/KRON
Still can't believe Wilson is gone. A relentless, passionate and dedicated news anchor and esteemed workhorse. Wilson was tireless. A pretty good talk-show host on radio too. He began in Sacramento and found his way to SF. Still remember his days at KGO-TV where he had to take over when Amburg left the airwaves. He had a loyal following all the way to the end.

*Wendy Tokuda--KPIX
Tokuda worked along side Mac--not an easy chore considering his popularity, but for most of the 80's and early 90's developed a strong and loyal audience. Yes, she had a tendency to continually flub lines and her delivery was not always outstanding, but she managed to stay at PIX several years. One of the best female anchors in a male-dominated industry.

*Frank Somerville--KTVU
You can make fun of his eternal seriousness, the snappy suits and all, but he's managed to carry on successfully after taking over for the esteemed Richmond; as a matter of fact, KTVU still is #1 at 10 and Somerville is one of the main reasons. Keeps to the KTVU brand: steady, cool, no-nonsense and tremendous reader. That's really all that counts.

*There are many others I've left out--too numerous actually. Currently, I like KTVU's underrated Ken Wayne. Dana King and Ken Bastida are solid pros, as is Diane Dwyer. Raj Mathai is an up and comer too. I'm beginning to warm to Dan Ashley, (if only he'd stop messing with the hair).

Who do you like?

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  1. Tom Sinkovitz, Catherine Heenan- two exceptional and likeable news anchors. Evan White as well. For morning news, nobody shines more than John Kessler.

  2. Agree with Tokuda, Richmond and Somerville. Never really liked Amburg, he was 'Extra' back when sensationalism was the exception and not the rule.

    First ones that come to mind, Leslie Griffith, Jerry Jensen, Vicki Liviakis, Terry Lowry.

  3. You're counting Frank Somerville in the same category as Dennis, Pete and Dave? Please! The guy is okay but the topic was ALL TIME Bay area great anchors. Give him another ten years at least. I do agree Dan Ashley is not given enough credit. A solid pro. Raj is a little too slick for my taste and Diane is pretty but stiff.

  4. Wendy Tokuda - Really? She was consistently horrible. Even you wrote, "she had a tendency to continually flub lines and her delivery was not always outstanding..." How can you put her in the same league with these other people? Surely there is a better woman anchor to cite.

    I miss Pete Wilson, both on TV and radio. Now, HE was a great anchor.

  5. Cheryl Jennings,Karna Small-before she went all right wing,Marcia Brandywine-ironically driven out of the business by Dennis Richmonds "I dont share" attitude. Terry Lowrey-just had an excess of sex appeal.Then she married Fred.ugh.
    The first blond goddess-Susan Saunders..just an incredible and stunning young beauty. She was the archetype blond anchor woman..led the way for Kate Kelly and the rest.
    And there were some semi great male anchors-Jerry Jensen,Bob Martinez.
    And the laughable...Milt Kahn of sports fame. And some guy in the 70's ch2 promoted like the second coming..HE was the original Ron Burgundy..I remember he was teamed with Stan Borman. Can't recall his name...but his huge ego of self love was a chuckle. He thought he was God's gift to news.

  6. how about Bob Jimenez and Evan White who co-anchored Live at 5 on Kron in the 80's...
    Bob in the studio.. Evan, in tie and shirt sleeves, from the newsroom..

  7. What happened -- you got out of the right side of the bed today? Nice to see some positive thoughts in the mix.

  8. The Tuck and Fortner Report on Channel 2 (try and say it without messing up). Art Brown (KRON), John Weston and Wanda Ramey (KPIX), Roger Grimsby (KGO).

  9. Sorry, never got Wendy Tokuda. Can't ever remember her stepping up in a big new situation although I wasn't watching during the 1989 Quake. But Dave Mac was the best. At KGO-TV, Van Amburg overwhelmed the set but not the news. That was a delicate balancing act.

  10. Hey you like someone on air, or those who used to be on air. How about one for radio with a smattering of those still working?

  11. Of all the above mentioned Dan Ashely seems to be the only one that could step up and do the network gig. Just my 1 cent.....

  12. Very good read, along with the comments. I lived in the Bay Area from 1983-2000 and always found the anchors to be as strong in SF as they were in NY where I am from. McElhatton just made one feel like he was talking as a friend. Will never forget his broadcast on Oct 17, 1989. I think Wendy and Mac played off each other very well. Pete Wilson, Anna Chaves, Evan White, Leslie Griffith, Elaine Corral, Bob Jimenez, Emerald Yeh were all top notch.

  13. Lloyd Lindsey Young.

  14. Mel Wax.
    Belva Davis.

  15. Judd Hambrick!-THATS the ch2 anchor who lived the Burgundy life.
    ptl for Google.

  16. Could not stand Pete Wilson...God rest his soul.

  17. You forgot Henry Tenenbaum

  18. Agree with your call to include Somerville. He's as solid as there is on Bay Area TV these days. Pam Cook at KTVU is highly under-rated, maybe because she's on so early. She's incredibly smart as well as being a talented presenter. Shame she has to share a set with Doofus Dave Clark.

  19. Another hilarious facoid about Judd...he lists his time here as working for a "San Francsico" station. Too good for Oakland huh Judd? He does admit to working in meccas like Cleveland,Memphis,and Cleveland.
    It makes me wonder how many former ch,2 news people resumes list San Francisco as a former place of work?
    Poor Oakland it's no there there,for newspeople.

  20. Milt Kahn, KPIX Sports:,2112191

  21. Ah, Elaine Corral----->got at least two cameramen fired for daring shoot her from the side. (She was really self conscious about her schnoz)
    Vain biotch.

  22. Let's look through each station's news anchor history, plus current ones not mentioned above. The most successful since Bay TV began to air in 1948 (KPIX; KGO & KRON first aired in 1949, KQED in 1953, KTVU in 1958, don't remember the exact years for KNTV, KICU, etc):
    1) KPIX. Thanks to the lead-in glory years of Edward R. Murrow & Walter Cronkite, Ch 5 has had the longest (even if not most) successful run. Best: Weston & Ramey, McElhatton, Bastida (wish more stations would try Good Question-type segments)
    2) KTVU. Nobody comes close to Richmond, and never will. Sommerville is okay. One not mentioned is Julie Haener. Haener is good at reporting with compassion. Campbell is solid.
    3) KGO. Amburg & Jensen, Wilson (both stints), Chavez. Ashley is good, but no wow factor.
    4) KRON. Jensen (worked there 1960-68), White, Wilson, Sinkowitz, Moore, Heenan
    5) KNTV. Maggi Scura (when Ch 11 was San Jose's own ABC affiliate), Mathai (lots of clarity in his voice, is well-prepared)
    6) KQED. Wax (until Ch 9 limited their news staff to just a forum panel, still..), Davis

    BTW, 12:08, Suzanne Shaw (her name since the 1990s when the Saunders in her left KGO for KRON) is now the GM at KNTV.

  23. Doug and Maggie at kntv were a great team back in the 70's.

  24. Amous shitburger. Now that guy was strong.

  25. all old...tired and in no way could handle the riggers of work today. give me darya in the morning any day. give me pam moore anytime. wendy tokuda??? are you kidding me? she might have been good years ago but later in her career she could not complete a sentence without flubbing it up. i also thought this blog was for inside information not for users to debate the issues. weak, mr. media.

  26. MissSaunders was not only gorgeous..but a Stanford honors grad...a formidable athlete and damn her to hades....a really cool person.

  27. @ 3:44pm-

    I think KICU came on the air in 1967 as KGSC--KBHK started in 1968, not sure if they ever had a real news department...

  28. I'm sorry...the names listed before--"all old...tired and in no way could handle the rigors of work today...???" Yeah, the biz HAS changed, NOT for the better, and I"m sorry, Darya isn't Amburg/McElhatton/Wilson calibre. No discussion here. Pam Moore, yes. She has the news chops, does well in pressure situations. Ditto for Catherine Heenan. This tired line about the current state of tv journalism is IT...VJs, any pretty face can do works great until you really need to play news. Look at how the market reacted during the San Bruno gas explosion last year.

  29. Wendy was a overpaid, sub-average news reader. She screws up her lines most of the time. (I have heard about some of the interesting reasons behind it.) During her salad days, She thought she was hot shit until Richard left her for a younger, firmer and a nicer chick. Then her career really tanked, faster than a wet brick. I remembered how she cussed out Colleen Williams on-air. I am not a fan of Wendy. Ms. Saunders Shaw, now she is so smart, cool and a very nice person.

  30. KBHK (now 44 Cable 12) has never had a news department. Ah, yes, KGSC! Who could forget? KICU had Jan Hutchins & Ysabel Duron team up in the 1980s with Steve Paulson doing the weather and John Shrader, then Robert Braunstein doing the sports. It was interesting on occasion. And what directions they moved to after KICU discontinued their newscasts. Hutchins became Mr. Los Gatos, then became a monk, I think. Duron overcame cancer and had been at KRON for quite awhile. Paulson, of course, handles KTVU's morning weathercasts. Shrader is Comcast's voice of the Quakes. Braunstein is Mr. High School Sports for KOFY TV-20.

  31. Does anyone remember Stan Bohrman who anchored just before Dave McElhatton on KPIX? I actually liked his delivery and style. But just about everyone of the anchors that folks have mentioned have been above and beyond what most TV markets have had to offer over the years.

  32. I realize his stay at Channel 4 was brief before moving up the river to 3 in Sacramento, but I always liked Stan Atkinson.

  33. I like Dan Ashley and don't care what he does with his hair....but I wish he would stop pointing to the camera/viewer to punctuate/emphasize/whatever. What's up with that?

  34. Pete the Milt Kahn category..just more normal. I remember Pete and Bill Mann had a running feud,including one article Mann wrote of Pete telling him off face to face. It was in retrospect a case of roid rage as Pete went from skinny nerd weatherman to being so pumped up..he beat a Petaluma wrist wrestler live on TV.
    Whatever happened to Pete? havent heard a single thing about him. He was there for 20 years everyday,then nothing for the last 20. He never even tried to catch on with another local channel?
    Well,he was making that insane 70's-80's high six figure money that was handed out back then.

  35. What happened to Leslie Griffith? She was quite a piece of ass! Current anchors, Gasia for news, and Kristy on the weather! I could watch those two all day!

  36. Pete was doing weather up in Reno about 10 years ago, wasn't he?

    Suzanne Shaw has been doing those editorials for KNTV/NBC for the last few years. She looked like she had not aged one day since she left.

    What ever happened to Emerald Yeh?

    Yeah, Leslie Griffith was shown the door quickly. Did she clash with Dennis?

    Raj is a little slick but I do like the guy. Marty Lurie had a good interview with him last week and that gave some insight into his background.

    The ratings don't show it and, yes, she has the Joker Botox lips, but I still like Jessica Aguierre. She has the gravitas of a lead anchor.

    Wow! Darya Folsom, Malou Nubla, and Terilyn Jo didn't make the list!!! SHOCKED!!!! lol

  37. Dennis Richmond was indeed super smooth on the air, and one of the best on-air anchors the Bay Area ever had. Off-air, though, was another matter. I was a script runner and part-time assignment desk guy for KTVU back in the early 90's, and I remember Dennis Richmond quite well.

    There were four of us script runner interns (all college students) who were being given a tour of the newsroom on our first day at the station, and in our group was a skinny, white blonde girl. When the tour reached Richmond's cubicle (it was the weekend show that day, so he wasn't there) the person giving it (a "veteran" intern) made a point to tell the blonde girl to watch out for Dennis Richmond because he likes the young, blonde interns and he would hit on her. She was told it was OK to refuse his advances. I thought this was a joke, but when he saw that girl during the week, sure enough, he hit on her! He was already in his 50's by then, and she was around 19. Needless to say, it was an unwritten rule that all of the interns warned the new incoming female interns to avoid Dennis.

    Another time, during Tony Bonilla's (Assistant News Director back then) 40th birthday bash, Richmond showed up with what looked like a blonde hooker on his arm. She was dressed like an escort, had a ton of make-up on, and had huge, fake boobs. All of us at the party were making guesses as to where Dennis hired his "date" from. It was actually very awkward.

    Personality-wise, he was very arrogant. At the time he owned both a Porsche 911 and a Mercedes sports coupe, and there was more than one instance when he would arrive late for the 3pm story meeting with the excuse of, "Sorry, guys. I couldn't decide whether to drive my Porsche or Mercedes today." He played it off like he was joking, but he obviously enjoyed rubbing his wealth and status in the faces of the low-paid writing staff who were all driving to work in Toyotas and Hondas.

    Frank Somerville, on the other hand, is one of the nicest and most humble guys I ever met in a newsroom. I was there when he was first hired, for the morning show, and he made a point to walk over to the little script runner corner cubicle in the back of the newsroom and introduce himself to all of us (keep in mind, that almost everyone looks down on script runners, especially on-air talent; and NO ONE walks over to the interns to introduce themselves). He said that he was a script runner himself at Channel 2 back when he was a student at SF State, and that we should keep faith in our abilities to make it in the business. He also said that he had to leave the market (to Minnesota) to get an on-air job, but that he always made sure to call up Fred Zehnder (the News Director back then) and send him tapes so that he wouldn't be forgotten in the Bay Area market. And it paid off for him. I'm happy for him and I'm glad to see a nice guy succeeding in the normally narcissistic TV news biz.

  38. If white male read the Teleprompter as badly as Tokuda, he'd never make it out of King City.

    Tokuda = Asian + Female
    Tokuda = Two-Fer

  39. Well, considering that most of the news media are run by liberals, there's really no reason to watch any of them, since they only report lies. Liberals couldn't tell the truth to save their lives. Anna Chavez made me sick to listen to and watch, because she really seemed to believe the drivel she was reading to this part of the world. She had the same weird, dumb-dumb attitude as Corkie on Night Court, and she drove me nuts too.I wish I could remember the last name of the "George" who used to be with Marcia Brandwynne on the Channel 2 Ten o'clock News. I sort of remember what he looked like, and his deep voice. Marcia Brandwynne reminded me of Joan Baez at the time she was on.

  40. For me, this subject only prompts fond memories. I was born in San Jose in 1956, and have lived here my entire life. I remember as a kid in the 60's watching the noon news with John Weston and Wanda Ramey when my dad came home for lunch. When I was in high school in the 70's, I wrote a satire of Van Amburg and Jerry Jensen for an english class at Del Mar. I remember when Jan Hutchins started out, doing sports ("The body is the temple of the spirit"). KSBW (ch 8) had a very strong news department (Leslie Griffith was there before moving to KTVU) back in the day, and probably didn't get enough credit for it.

    I wish my memory was better, and that I could recall more names that haven't been mentioned, but I can add a few. In sports, Radnich, Ibanez, Fonzi and Shuman have stood the test of time. In the weather department, Pete Giddings was a local legend, but before Giddings there was Pat McCormick. And surely Joel Bartlett deserves a mention, as do Jim Vanderzwaan, Brian Sussman, Roberta Gonzalez, Steve Paulson... and John Farley was very well liked at KNTV.

    At any rate, lots of good people to remember fondly. Personally, I always preferred Dave McElhatton over Pete Wilson. But being a San Jose guy, Maggie Scura and Doug Moore were about as good as it gets. I think Raj and Jessica are very good, though, and Janelle Wang too. I also hope Rob Mayeda will be around for a long time.

    Here's a nice resource: