Rita Williams, longtime reporter for KTVU, has retired from the Oakland, CA, FOX affiliate after 35 years at the station.
Williams, who called herself “the first broadcast broad,” was honored by the station with multiple on-air stories and a web page looking back at her career on its website,
She has been a TV street reporter with the kind of tenacity and determination to ask the kind of gutsy questions that most of her colleagues steer clear of. Her competition has scrambled after her time and again, leaving them to wonder how the heck she scooped them.
“I’ve had police officers tell me, ‘I want you to do my story if I ever mess up.'” Williams said in an on-air feature about her retirement. “And I’d say, ‘Why you think I’m soft or something?’ And they said, ‘No. You’re the toughest reporter we know. But you’re fair.'”
Williams also took the time to address what it has been like for her to work in TV, “It makes me feel proud to have lasted as long as I have, as a woman,” Williams said. “Most women who started with me back then stopped doing it. It was a tough business, lots of barriers, lots of discrimination. Sometimes, people would do their best to get rid of you. So you just worked harder than any of the guys, and you showed them you can do it, and you just did it.”
Her first TV reporting job was with KSAT in San Antonio, TX. She moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978 and freelanced for both KTVU and PBS station KQED, where she briefly worked full-time, until landing a full-time job as a reporter at KTVU in 1980.
Williams joined 10:00 p.m. news anchors Frank Somerville, Julie Haener, chief meteorologist Bill Martin and sports director Mark Ibanez for her on-air goodbye.
She left viewers with one final message, “I just want everyone to know how much I appreciate them,” Williams said. “I feel privileged to have been able to tell people’s stories for 41 years now. And as a journalist, that’s a great trust and I hope that I’ve honored that well.”
Williams also threatened to call if the station, long known as the leading broadcast news organization in the Bay Area, should ever lose its edge. “Thank all of you. Thank the station. You set a high mark here and I’m going to be calling you all if you don’t live up to the expectations.”[Rich Lieberman 415 Media]