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Stan Chambers shares stories

KTLA reporter for 60 years says people like to share stories of what they were doing when they heard him breaking the news.

February 26, 2008|By Sue Thoensen

On an April day in 1949, 3-year-old Kathy Fiscus fell more than 100 feet into an abandoned well in San Marino.

Legendary KTLA broadcaster Stan Chambers was just beginning his foray into television journalism when he had to report on air, after more than 27 hours of live, minute-by-minute coverage, that the little girl was dead.

“There had never been TV cameras at a rescue event, I had never done anything like that before, and it was a deep, personal loss for everyone who watched,” Chambers said.

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So much so, that years later people tell him they can still remember where they were when they first heard the news.

That story is one of many in Chambers’ newly-released autobiography, “KTLA’S News at 10: 60 Years with Stan Chambers.”

The Emmy award-winning journalist will be appearing at the Newport Beach Central Library tonight, and if any of his prior speaking engagements are an indication, Chambers can throw his scripted speech right out the window.

Audiences are so intent on sharing their memories of where they were and what they were doing when certain news stories broke, Chambers said, that evenings take on a life of their own.

“They have so many questions. You relight the flames, and they start to glow again.”

Janis Dinwiddie, event coordinator for the Library Foundation, said people calling to reserve seats for tonight’s event have been sharing stories, as well.

“He’s such a legend. If we grew up in Southern California, we all know Stan,” Dinwiddie said.

She was just a baby at the time, but Dinwiddie remembers her mom talking about the Fiscus story because their family was living a block away from the Fiscus family when the event occurred.

“Everyone has their Stan Chambers story. He’s so revered and so beloved, people want to come and hear him, because they know him or feel like they know him,” Dinwiddie said.

Chambers’ career at KTLA began while he was attending college at USC, where he also worked at the university’s radio station, KUSC-FM — one of the first schools to have its own radio show.

“Timing is so important. TV was just starting at KTLA. I suggested they do a campus magazine segment on the air, and I was hired for $1.25 an hour.”

Chambers went to school during the day, worked at KTLA in the evening, and the rest is history. Six decades worth of history.

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