SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — After 31 years of covering the daily trials, tribulations and triumphs of those of us who call the San Francisco Bay Area home, veteran KPIX 5 news anchor Ken Bastida decided this week that it is time to step away, take a deep breath, and enjoy the natural wonders of Northern California.
Along the way, Bastida has seen the tools of the journalistic trade go from Underwood typewriters to cell phones, satellite trucks and the streaming video world.
“I started Aug. 1, 1990,” he said as he prepared for Tuesday’s broadcast. “We didn’t even have computers in the newsroom yet — only typewriters. I remember it clearly. I had the good fortune of working and learning from some really talented people. Remember, I had come over from KCBS Radio and didn’t have a whole lot of experience in TV.”
Bastida’s last broadcast will be at the end of the month, wrapping up a wonderful ride. Among the many admirers of his work is long-time Bay Area resident and KPIX 5 General Manager Kevin Walsh.
“It’s bittersweet to announce the retirement of someone who has played such an essential role within the local community from his early days in radio to his 30+ years on-air at KPIX,” Walsh said. “Ken’s innovative story telling style at KPIX has made him one of the most popular and trusted anchors in Bay Area. We all wish Ken and his family well.”
Along the way, Bastida has been a calming voice in some of the Bay Area’s darkest moments. The heightened fear and anxiety following the attacks of 9/11, the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, the crash of Asiana Airlines Flight 214, the deadly San Bruno gas explosion and last year’s deadly VTA maintenance yard shooting in San Jose.
“During the Oakland Hills Fire, I got picked up in the chopper and I believe we were the first news aircraft over the scene,” Bastida said. “The flames were unbelievable.”
He also gave Bay Area viewers an eyewitness look at the major stories from around the country and world.
Bastida reported live from the Pentagon in the wake of the 9/11 attack and went to the Middle East twice to cover the Israel/ Palestinian conflict.
He also has been there to chronicle the victories of the human spirit. Covering the paraplegic climber Mark Wellman as he scaled Half Dome.
“Nine days on the rock waiting for him to top out,” he said. “It was surreal.”
While the Giants were preparing this week for another post-season run at a World Series title, Bastida also fondly recalled covering the team’s 2010, 2012 and 2014 championship seasons.
“The Giants winning the World Series in 2010, being in Texas when the final pitch was thrown, it was crazy,” he said. “And covering the victory parades live in 2010, 2012, 2014. So happy for the city and the Giants fans.”
While there have been numerous awards for excellence along the way, Bastida received 15 Emmy nominations winning seven of the prestigious awards. In 1990, he was awarded the prestigious George Foster Peabody award for his contributions to KCBS Radio during the ’89 Loma Prieta earthquake.
Now the time has come to begin a new journey in his life.
“In keeping with a promise I made to my family a few years ago,” he said. “I will be retiring from broadcasting at the end of October. Life is calling.”
There will be dinners with his wife, children and grandchildren to make up for the many missed over the years of delivering the 11 p.m. News.
“And there’s a ranch that needs a full-time tractor driver,” he said. “Needless to say, I will be very busy.”
San Francisco native, Bastida was born in the city’s Mission District. He attended high school at El Camino High in South San Francisco where he was first bitten by the broadcast bug. As a student in the telecommunications class, he was allowed to take home a camera. “I really wanted to be a cameraman and shoot sports,” he remembers.
Ken earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communications from San Francisco State University. In 2007, he was inducted into the University’s Alumni Hall of Fame.
During his undergraduate years, a friend told him about an internship at KFRC Radio. Ken quickly worked his way up from the mailroom to the news room.