A ‘Shout Out’ to KOMO TV and Bryan Johnson

A ‘shout out’ to Bryan Johnson of KOMO TV in Seattle, who is retiring after 53 years at the same TV station! Bryan started out in radio at a station in Centralia in 1955, and then joined KOMO in 1959. That’s where he has spent the last 53 years, tormenting both politicians and his bosses alike, and reporting day in and day out on the issues and stories that matter to us here in the Pacific Northwest. At a retirement celebration in Studio B on Friday, Liz Rocca, now KOMO’s managing editor, shared how she would call Bryan to find out how he was doing on a story. He would answer her phone call with “Elizabeth, how may you hinder me?” Typical Bryan. Irreverent. Candid. Offbeat. And even though he often claimed “he didn’t have squat” on a story, he would  come through at 5pm in time for the newscast, and put together stories with some of the most memorable soundbites — ever.

My first day on the job at KOMO in 1993, the assignment desk sent me to Olympia with Bryan and a photographer. We were on our way to interview then-Governor Mike Lowry. The ride down was an education in itself. Even though I grew up in Eastern Washington, I’d been working in California the previous 10 years. I was quickly brought up to speed on the political landscape in Washington from Bryan’s unique perspective. I don’t recall what we talked  about with Governor Lowry, but I do recall thinking “Can you actually talk to a Governor this way?” Bryan got the soundbites and information he needed, and I don’t think Lowry was any worse for wear — that time. Bryan was incredibly generous with sharing his knowledge when you needed to know the backstory on an issue, a person or even a city. I so appreciated his rare perspective as someone who covered the same region for more than five decades.  In this day and age, it is incredibly rare that, first of all, someone survives in the news industry for 58 years (total for Bryan), let alone 53 at the same station. A lot of management teams are looking for the fresh new face, someone to get the viewers’ attention, or even someone younger who will work for less money. I give KOMO ‘props’ for recognizing the rare talent they had in Bryan and letting him run with it — for all these years! Love Bryan and he will be missed.

And speaking of management teams…. anyone else notice that a number of the top spots at Fisher Communications/KOMO are now held by women? As someone who appreciates what women leaders bring to the table, I want to point that out. Currently, Colleen Brown is President and CEO of Fisher Communications, Janene Drafs is the new VP and GM of Fisher’s Seattle broadcasting at KOMO-TV, and Holly Gauntt is the VP of News, News Director of KOMO-TV. I don’t know how many other stations have such a wealth of women leaders at the top, but it is fairly unique in what has normally been an industry dominated by male managers.  Keep up the good work!

Margo Myers, Principal

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