By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
Pioneering Asian American journalist David Louie celebrated his retirement Wednesday after 50 1/2 years with his colleagues at KGO/ABC7 in San Francisco.
The event attended by dozens of Louie’s colleagues at the Ferry Plaza’s Wine Merchant marked the end of an era.
Louie is one of the first Asian American journalists hired by a TV news outlet in San Francisco and he outlasted them all. He joined the station in 1972 and served in numerous capacities. He began as a general assignment reporter, headed the station’s Peninsula bureau, became its technology and business reporter and finally served as the Station’s South Bay Bureau Chief where he continued to cover Silicon Valley.
He began his career in television at the age of 5 when he appeared on a weekly public affairs program in Ohio. He is a native of Cleveland where many of his relatives still reside.
Louie thanked his colleagues Wednesday for being a “family” to him and applauded them for their professionalism and excellence. He said he watched in amazement when shortly after Louie participated in one of many tributes at KGO for him Wednesday, they jumped into action as word surfaced about a shooting at a school in Oakland. Six people were injured while students hid in their classrooms.
Louie volunteered to cover the story, but was told his last day at the station would be one of celebration.
Reporter Amanda Del Castillo, who worked with Louie in the South Bay, said when she tried to find a larger apartment during her pregnancy, no one would rent to her and her husband because they had a dog. Finally, a potential landlord asked her what she did. When she mentioned she worked at ABC7, the landlord asked her if she knew David Louie.
“My desk is right next to his,” she replied. That impressed her landlord and was enough for her to get the apartment.
Louie served on the board of directors of the Radio and Television Digital News Directors Association and attended its convention in Nashville in 2001. When word broke out about planes colliding into the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon on 9/11, he immediately rented a car and drove to Washington, DC to cover the story. He also covered the Chowchilla Kidnapping in 1976 when 26 school children were kidnapped and buried in a tractor-trailer. Louie was the first to learn the children had been found safe.
Louie also served as President of the Asian American Journalists Association Tears streamed down ABC7 news anchor Kristen Sze’s face as she recounted the story of how Louie awarded her her first scholarship and made her believe she could become a journalist. Louie sat on the judging committee that awarded her the scholarship. You can watch the moment in the tweet below.
ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley said Louie brought a culture of kindness to KGO and recounted how Louie was among the first to welcome him, taking him out to lunch.
In a lighter moment, Louie was the incorrect answer on Wheel of Fortune when a contestant from the Bay Area screamed “David Louie” as the answer to the puzzle. The correct answer was David Bowie. You can also see that moment in the tweet above.
As a thank you to all those who supported him, Louie has endowed a scholarship for Asian American students at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, his alma mater.
You can watch some of the highlights of Louie’s career. below.
(Correction: This story corrects details of Amanda Del Castillo’s story about David Louie as well as the day of the party at the Ferry Plaza.)
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