Tom Sinkovitz is a veteran Bay Area TV anchor--he spent nearly two decades at KRON, (early on when the old KRON was the dominant Bay Area news station in the evening) and just recently finished a stint at KNTV, (NBC Bay Area), before leaving last year due to a host of circumstances. (He was tired of the commute to San Jose and some other assorted professional issues).
Sinkovitz and I had lunch the other day and I told him point blank that he should be back on the Bay Area airwaves. He laughed. It was that venerable giggle that makes "Sink" the good guy he is along with the fact that he's one helluva newsman.
In a far-ranging interview, I asked Sinkovitz several things. Some answers may surprise you.
So, how you been? My wife Paula and I are living in San Francisco and our twins are in a great school. It doesn’t get much better than that.I’m doing several different things -- all media related. I’ve got good clients and good collaborators, so knock on wood.
You know, my e-mail box is loaded with people asking why you're not on Bay Area TV. So, what's the situation? I haven’t pushed very hard -- and no one is knocking down my door either. I’ve had
conversations, brief ones, with a couple stations and a “courtesy interview” at one of them. At the time, my reticence to jump back in was written all over my face. To shake something loose, you have to identify what you want to accomplish and be committed to it. It’s been a process, but there’s a voice that’s getting louder now that asks me --That’s it? I don’t think it is. (smiles)
You were at KRON for the good old days. What was that like? Well, I don’t think there’s much point in living in the past but since you asked....They were great days. I could make the argument that KRON in the 90’s was the best local affiliate in the country. The editorial meetings were a daily education about the Bay Area. We were producing terrific local programming. Even the Chronicle’s web site was in our building. It was an electric atmosphere. The anchor teams were rock solid with years of field reporting under their belts. And when we matched our six or eight best
reporters with the six or eight most important local stories of the day, I’d say out loud,
“let’s see any station in the country beat that.”
I know that you worked with the late Pete Wilson -- you became melancholy when I mentioned it's been five years since his passing. What kind of person was Pete? I miss Pete. Pure and simple. I got to know a different side of him playing a lot of golf with him and his closest friends, and once with Pete his son Brendan -- just the three of us. Pete had a bigger than life presence, but when you boiled it down, he was another doting father like the rest of us. In the newsroom, he might have projected that it was mostly about him (and it was), but he sometimes went out of his way to show his appreciation for the efforts of people. I remember the day after the Pine and Franklin Street shootout on a Sunday night, he tracked me down to tell me that I had made him proud of KRON the night before. That was important to me. I always felt that between us we had all seven nights of the week covered.
OK, gotta ask you, who are some of your favorite people in the biz? Jeez, where do I begin? I assume you mean from my broadcasting years in the Bay Area. Let me start with the amazing co-anchors I’ve worked with: Pam Moore, Catherine Heenan, Wendy Tokuda, Suzanne Shaw, Emerald Yeh, Vicki Liviakis -- and then Lisa Kim, Jessica Aguirre and Diane Dwyer in San Jose. Talk about a harem. And all of them smarter than me. Honestly I can’t begin to name all the people who made my years at KRON so incredible. Great reporters and photographers and producers and assignment editors and some really good bosses too even though we clashed over issues mostly of my own making. We had a managing editor named Mia Zuckerkandel who had a real appreciation for how sports are a huge part of the fabric of the Bay Area, and she knew I loved to do those kinds of stories. Without a quirk early in my career, I’d have spent my life covering sports. My competitors were terrific, too. It was good being out on the streets at night with guys like John Fowler and John Sasaki and Doug Murphy to name a few. You had to work like hell or you were going to get beat. It’s tough out there night after night and I really admire people like Vic Lee and Don Knapp and Linda Yee and Rita Williams and Tom Vacar who still have fire in their bellies after so many years.
You like anchoring but you're really more of a fan working out as a reporter in the field, right? Let me say this. I enjoy anchoring. And I enjoy reporting. I like to think that my strength is that I do both fairly well. There aren’t many positions that allow you to do both consistently. Doing the weekend anchoring at KRON for so many years was a great job. There was one night during the summer of our rolling power blackouts when photographer Dave Fix and I covered the story from Potrero Hill. When the sun went down, families were having dinner by candlelight and people came out on the streets to enjoy a rare, balmy night. And all the while, downtown San Francisco was lit up like a Christmas tree and looked spectacular. I remember thinking to myself, you don’t have these kinds of experiences when you’re tied to the anchor desk. You can’t know this huge and complicated community without spending time on the streets. From my perspective,”anchors” shouldn’t have that title until they’ve earned it. To this day and all these years later, people still ask me about anchoring our coverage on the afternoon of the Oakland Hills Firestorm and then reporting from the fire that night. It matters.
*Rich Lieberman 415 Media Exclusive
*Follow me on Twitter