By Kevin L. Nichols
The departure of KTVU news anchor Dennis Richmond left a gaping hole in African American, Bay Area journalism. Barbara Rodgers’ departure extends the divide as wide as the eye can see. A pillar in the community, Rodgers estimates that she conducted close to 10,000 interviews during her 36 years as a journalist.
Rodgers anchored CBS 5 (KPIX-TV) weekend news casts from 1987-2000, and then Eyewitness News at noon. She also appeared on the show she helped create in 1989 called “Bay Sunday,” which is CBS 5’s weekly public affairs program.
Some of the numerous awards and achievements she has received during her stint as an anchor/ reporter include seven Emmy Awards from the Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), the United Negro College Fund’s Frederick D. Patterson Outstanding Individual Award, five Excellence in Journalism Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Pioneer Award, and NATAS’s Governor’s Award, which is the most prestigious award that a local journalist can attain.
I recently sat on the set during one of Rodger’s last broadcasts of the noon news to get her perspective on life after retirement and on some of her most prominent accomplishments. She said that after leaving her job, she wants to get some rest, since she has been working since she was 13 years old.
Rodgers explained she had planned to “goof off and travel” once she graduated from Knoxville College, but she received an offer that she could not refuse from the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY, and has been working ever since. Now, she said she has promised herself that “for the next six months and maybe for the next year, I’m going to do things just for me.”
Rodgers recalled two of the most memorable moments of her career: Meeting Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and using creative tactics to get to hear him speak to the United Nations in New York.
During her career, Rodgers interviewed the likes of Jamie Foxx, Danny Glover, Neil Simon, Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson and former President George Bush.
Rodgers came to tears when discussing her legacy to the Bay Area. She credited her parents, particularly her mother, for the confidence she developed through their example of hard work and encouragement.
She urged others to follow their dreams: “You have to be determined and have a dream, and don’t let anyone ever tell you that your dream is invalid, because no one would have predicted that I would be sitting in the U.N. listening to Mandela speak or at the White House interviewing a president,” she said.
Kevin L. Nichols is an author and president/CEO of KLN Publishing in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://klnpublishingllc.blogspot.com/.