Monday, June 4, 2012

Rita Williams retiring from KTVU; Ace Reporter was at the Fox Affiliate for 35 Years

KTVU reporter Rita Williams

Damn, Rita, I'm going to miss you.

Another great one is calling it quits after 35 years at the post. A truly fine reporter, a pit bull, really, professionally-speaking-- that is, in an industry that is losing all its aces.

Rita Williams will be retiring from KTVU after over three decades reporting on the streets of the Bay Area.

I have admired the mega-award-winning Williams from the moment I saw her first years of work. She's dogged, tenacious, gritty and one hellacious interviewer. Tough, fierce, but fair. And with the grace of a feather too, which only makes her that much better.

I'm quite sure that Rita is going out on her own terms. She's been a trooper for years and now is the time. Well, wait a minute. No it really, isn't. I wish there were more Rita Williams in the business and I'm sorry that she's leaving, (she'll stay on until February.) But that's the way it is. Good things must always come to an end.

Rita Williams, you're a pro. I'll miss you. So will the Bay Area.

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  1. A lot of the really top field reporters seem to be retiring recently. I'm not so sure the up and comers are anywhere near ready to fill their shoes.

    Rita Williams will be missed on broadcasts, for sure.

    1. These veteran reporters know the Titanic is sinking. Better that they get out on their own terms before they go down with the sinking ship. Broadcasting just sucks now. Dead end career for anyone trying to get into the business out of college.

  2. Good for her! Well deserved. And the up and comers will be fine. Big shoes to fill but they will succeed if they stay true to the craft.

  3. Agree on both comments!

    Still, Rich, whenever you're ready, I welcome another Special Ed rant. I'm thinking more and more greats at KTVU are starting to feel that Ed Burnout! Go off on Special Ed, Rich, go off!

  4. Loyd and now Rita?..they screamed 1970's new wave newscasts. It seems like KGO ch7, is the last channel to be loyal to its moving them in and out like cattle. To continue the 70's theme,ch7 is the reliable avocado green fridge,or the velvet comfy couch with homemade wine bottle lamps and terrariums..
    I could go rock,goodby cruel world statues at Pay Less..ahhh. Ok,that's enough!

    1. You forgot Gemco and Whitefront.

  5. LOVE RITA! Thanks for the heads up, Rich. Couldn't agree with you more!

    We need to give her a parade--seriously!

  6. This is a real bummer, and I'm running out of reasons to watch KTVU. Rita, along with Bob MacKenzie, was one of my all-time favorite reporters in the Bay Area market. The only young reporter that I thought was in their class was Cecilia Vega, but she got scooped up by the network and is now a national reporter. Wishing Rita well in retirement -- she is a true legend in the business, and she was great at her job.

  7. Rita Williams is part of a dying breed--having longevity at a station. Thanks to the greedy selfish people who run media gobblers these says, this probably won't happen again. And that's sad.

  8. Good for Rita.

  9. Does anyone who comments on this board actually work at a station? Because here's what's happening people: Reporters like Rita don't exist anymore. If she wants to learn to drive herself to stories, set up sound, shoot video, interview subjects, write her story, edit her piece on a laptop and send it to the producers before her 5pm deadline, she'd still he hoofing it. Fact of the matter is the two-man crew is all but dead. Thanks (sarcasm) to KRON other stations have seen that the VJ model can work. Rita is too darn old to put up with that shit and I mean that in a good way. Go out with your head held high Rita. You are fortunate enough to have worked in an era when a job as a broadcast journalist was the shit. Unfortunately its evolved into just a shit job.

  10. Congratulations on 35 years at KTVU. There's only one 2.
    Enjoy retirement Rita.

  11. I would have to agree with 10:02. Even though I don't work in the business anymore (haven't for 25 years), I have kept watch of the local news scene where I now live in western Oregon. I have watched station after station after station gut their news departments and their news staff. The VJ model took these stations by storm. Unfortunately, what has happened is good journalism went out the window in favor of fluff, and the good reporters with it. Sadly, the good reporters either got burned out or simply had enough with the crap going on and left. In Portland, a very good reporter with 44 years (at one station, by the way) just retired. There aren't anymore like him around; they've either quit or retired. Those who are taking their place are young with not much experience in what real news and journalism is. It is all about the almighty ratings and the almighty dollar. I remember Rita from when I lived in the Bay Area and enjoyed watching her on KTVU. Congratulations on your retirement. Enjoy the next season of your life.

  12. It's ridiculous to think that VJ's are ruining TV...and journalism. True, right now a lot of reporters-only reporters are being forced out of the business and are being replaced by people suddenly forced to learn how to shoot, write & edit. But this is only a temporary phase. Our J-schools are swarming with kids who are learning how to do it all--in addition to the "regular" journalism curriculum (some may blast this and say , "WHAT curriculum?" Well--Rita Williams, Lloyd LaCuesta and the rest of today's and yesterday's ace reporters all went through this.) My 7-year old daughter already knows how to use an iPad...and can drag-and-drop video clips using iMovie...and can even set up Skype to chat with her cousin across the country. If she chooses to pursue Broadcast Journalism in college one day (I will advise AGAINST this, BTW!), she will apply these skills to her Journalism education--and will come out a J-school grad--just like Rita & Lloyd were when THEY graduated from college.

    Within the next decade, TV news will be leaner for sure--but it will STILL have dedicated people looking to continue what Rita, Lloyd and the rest of the old guard did.

    Remember when the "old guard" sounded the death of TV when we switched from film to 3/4" U-Matic tape? It didn't die....and TV news won't die because of VJ's or $2K videocameras. It'll continue evolving into a different animal. But it will survive.

  13. Lasting 35 years at any job is an accomplishment, especially if you did that job well for all that time.

  14. Content delivery has changed. This board is a good example. Give $5/month to and you can setup your own video-capable blog site and sink or swim based on your own merit. Shooting 720p video costs a few hundred bucks and shooting 1080p can be done for maybe a few hundred bucks more. Basically, you can shoot high quality HD video now for under $500. You can stream it using youtube, vimeo, et. al. for free or almost nothing. You couldn't dream of doing this when Rita and her contemporaries were coming up through the ranks. Disruptive technology is all about this sort of thing. You have to look at the other side of the equation.

    Are we better off with cheap AOC (go look that up in wikipedia) LED monitors made in China or are we better off looking at Admiral TVs that spew out tons of harmful RF radiation?

    You can't have it both ways. The media world is changing. Call it new media, social networking or whatever. It's changing. Limbaugh may be the last one, and look at his demographic that is slowly dying off. Most young people (under 25) who are out and living on their own don't even have a land-line telephone. I wonder how many over-50 parents of these young people even know this. They don't buy many postage stamps, either. Let the postage stamp increase to $5. Do you think they care?

  15. VJ model is not to blame, but broadcast journalism is changing. The nightly news is no longer must-see-tv. I'd argue its not even on in most households. Have you even seen the ratings for SF's newscasts? My feeling is the people who comment on this board yearn for the good old days, pre-internet, when a job at a local station was the shizz and it was flush with plenty of producers, editors, writers, and a support staff most stations nowadays could only dream of. Its simply not the case anymore. The lack of popularity for "Action news at 6!" is frightening, esp to those who have so dearly loved and worked their butts off in this business. But the status quo of a two man crew and a live truck with a fully staffed newsroom is slowly being phased out. The bottom line is your younger demo doesn't care about watching local news. Even if it streamed on their mobile device they still wouldn't watch. My guess is every station could nix their 4,5 and 6pm newscasts and only the 50+ demo would notice. People are too busy to sit at home and see what happened today. They're still at work at 7pm, or shuttling kids back and forth to games or out with friends or on their laptops working. Maybe a better question for this board is how are you supposed to sustain a station around a rapidly decreasing viewership?

  16. When I worked on-air in small market TV in the mid and late 1970s, we would have to shoot and edit all of our own film. (These were the days before videotape in smaller markets). the But shooting, editing, as well as handling the on-air duties was expected of announcer on TV in the small markets.

    Now this is fast becoming the norm in major markets such as San Francisco. I wonder if TV reporters in NYC, LA and Chicago have to shoot and edit their own video, and actually hold the camera, focusing on person they're interviewing while also asking the questions. That's absolutely absurd to have to do that in a major market such as the SF Bay Area.

    When I see Mike Schumman of Vern Glennbeing forced to do this to keep some young kid from taking their jobs, I feel very badly for these guys.

    They're being asked to do more with less. And management is turning major market TV stations into medium, or event small market type =stations (look no further than KRON news, which is now almost unwatchable)

    The whole thing reminds me of the name of that old movie from the 1980s, 'I'm dancing as fast as I can!'

    It's absolutely disgraceful that reporters are being forced to do two jobs
    (both of which are challenging enough) because management is too cheap to hire another body and doesn't give a whit about the quality of the on-air product. if they think they're getting top quality news reporting when they require people to do this, then they're crazy! But I guess that's what American business has embraced. Get the most for the cheapest amount of money. What a shortsided, irresponsible concept. Yet this has become the norm!

    This is just another example of today's model of how America does business.

    Give people less service, take less care of the workers who are doing your 'grunt work,' and extract as much money as you can.
    It's one of the big reasons why this country has gone into the crapper.

    And young people who are getting into 'the business' don't seem to understand this, because most of them are already so star struck to get a chance to work in a major market. Many more also seem to have absolutely zero interest about the recent history of the TV news industry in which they now work. Some think this has always been the norm!

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again: this is a very sad commentary on where this country is heading!