Saturday, August 14, 2010

Stan Chambers

I can’t imagine Channel 5 without Stan Chambers. That’s like New York without Times Square, Paris without the Eiffel Tower, the post office without lines. For 63 years Stan has reported the news on KTLA. In his mild-mannered way, Stan has been on the scene for every major local story. Imagine Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood during a riot, brush fire, or earthquake.

The good news is that Stan, at 87, is still in relatively good health. This was his decision. It’s not like he was fired to make room for some young 75 year-old reporter. I’m sure he’d like to travel. I doubt if he’s ever seen an oil spill or tsunami.

But it just won’t be the same watching Channel 5. In 1949 (before I was born, by the way. Television is actually older than I am), a three-year-old girl tragically fell down a well shaft and Stan stayed on the air for 27 hours ad libbing and describing rescue efforts. Let’s see Bianna Golodryga do that.

He’s really the last link to a time in journalism when facts were important and objectivity was valued. He saw his job as providing information not turning you against a political party.

And he was ours. He never left us to go national. Los Angeles was his home, Los Angeles was his beat. I can’t begin to count the number of news anchors and reporters who came and went from the LA airways during Stan’s tenure. Carpetbaggers looking to climb that next rung. A constant parade of Ted Baxters, future game show hosts, former models and Miss Americas (yes you, Tawny Little). And through it all, there was Stan – pronouncing street names correctly, tapping into personal fire department and city hall sources he’s known for fifty years. Let’s see Jillian Reynolds do that.

A couple of times over the past year I’ve anchored KABC radio’s disaster coverage on major brush fires and storms. I once quipped on the air that if you hear my voice and it’s not Dodger baseball people are evacuating their homes. But my role model was Stan Chambers. I kept thinking “How would Stan handle this?” Of course I wasn’t Stan. No one was. But that’s okay because for 63 years we Angelinos were blessed to have the real Stan.

Have a great retirement. As far as all of us in Los Angeles are concerned, that old expression is wrong.

We LOVE the messenger!

6 comments:

Bob Graves said...

Growing up in L.A. it seemed as if there were two constants in the news: George Putnam and Stan Chambers. Oh, and commercial breaks frequently offered a third - Cal Worthington and his dog Spot. I miss them all . . .

Jeffrey Leonard said...

St. Louis has their "Stan the Man", but L.A. has had their's too. Like you, Ken, I grew up in Los Angeles and remember Stan Chambers from the VERY early 50s, when T.V. was in its infancy. Channel 5 will never be quite the same without our Stan Chambers. I wish him all the luck in his 'early' retirement.

Tom Quigley said...

I wrote to a friend who used to work with him when I heard the news the other day... For the feat of staying at one station for 63 years (TV or radio -- doesn't matter), the man should be given a statue in tribute to him somewhere -- or at least one of the letters from the HOLLYWOOD sign...

TOURIST: "Why does the sign say 'Ollywood'?"

LOCAL: "Because the 'H' is now in Stan's chamber"....

All the best in your retirement, Mr. C!

D. McEwan said...

Quite a fixture. I remember seeing the Watts Riots through his eyes

It's been years since I've seen him, because I haven't watched news on KTLA in ages, but Stan was certainly as much a part of Los Angeles as smog and movie stars.

Dan Kravetz said...

My first recollection of Stan Chambers was on a daytime cooking show called "Tricks and Treats," which he co-hosted with a woman named Corris Guy. He will be missed!

VP81955 said...

I've never lived in Los Angeles, but in the late 1980s I wrote for a sports broadcast wire service, and one of our duties was watching out-of-town games via satellite (this was before signing were scrambled). IIRC, channel 5 did Angels games, and we'd frequently see their local news afterward. I recall seeing several of Stan's reports, and was impressed by his professionalism and lack of, shall we say, bull. I can understand why folks such as you and Keith Olbermann have given him tributes -- not merely for longevity, but for excellence.