Often I’m asked to name my favorite author. It’s impossible to pick favorites because I adore each and every one of our authors. I can remember the feelings that raced through my veins as I read their manuscripts – that feeling of “girl, you better jump on this before someone else does!”
And that’s exactly what ran through my head when Stan Chambers’ son queried us on Stan’s behalf. At first, I though someone was playing a joke on me because I grew with Stan Chambers, who reported the news on KTLA Channel 5. He was everyone’s favorite newsie because he had a magical way of making you feel that everything would be ok. Everyone’s feeling was, if Stan said it, it must be true. The idea that his manuscript would come to us nearly sent me out of my chair. I remember calling on a Friday night to nab Stan faster than the beagle tosses back her Jim Beam.
Throughout his sixty-two years of reporting, not once did I ever see him inject any personal bias that permeates today’s newsies. He has always maintained the objective eye because that’s what honorable journalists do. Report. The. News. What a concept.
Working with Stan on his wonderful book was a thrill of a lifetime. Every time he called the office, he’d open with a friendly, “Hi Lynn, Stan Chambers here,” and I always expected him to finish the line off with his classic, “News at ten.” I never understood the idea of speaking with a smile until I met Stan. Even though his voice has faded over the years, there is a very distinctive smile in his voice, and it never fails to make me feel better – like all is well with the world. Odd the power of one’s voice, eh?
When Stan was honored at the USC/UCLA football game, the crowds roared as he stood on the field and waved, wearing his usual adorable smile. It took him at least a half hour just to return to his seat beside us because everyone kept stopping him to shake his hand or have their pic taken with him. He is Mr. Everyman and has never acted like a stuck-up journalist who was too good to talk to the “little people.” And, mind you, I’ve seen plenty who do act like that.
Well, the L.A. Times reported that the time has come for Stan, who has continued to work at KTLA for sixty-two years, to step down and take some well-earned vacation time. His wife is threatening a cruise. I can just see Stan, itching to report on it all rather than just sit back and let someone spoil him rotten with fruity drinks and plates of lobster. My advice: go for it, Stan. You deserve it.
Stan’s book was always seen by the booksellers as being regional, so of course, it kicked butt here in S. California. But Stan’s story transcends location. He offers us a perspective of someone who lived in amazing times and reported on amazing stories with grace and panache. His story about reporting on the kidnapping of Frank Sinatra’s son still cracks me up every time I read it.
Conversely, his story about reporting on the first A-bomb test is riveting because this happened way before anyone had the ability to report remotely. The same for the tragic Kathy Fiscus story, which put Stan on the map. KTLA was the first to build and report from a helicopter. Nowadays, helo reporting is business as usual. But Stan’s accounting of its birth highlights what an amazing feat this was.
We take so much for granted in our ability to access the news, and Stan’s book takes us back to the birth of all that progress, when brilliant minds worked together to bring the news to a thirsty public. The fact that Stan witnessed all of this puts the reader in the driver’s seat and puts Stan squarely into our hearts.
You want to learn about how things were, read about the tough and the inane stories that made national news, and how far we’ve come, then you need look no further to KTLA’s News at Ten: Sixty Years With Stan Chambers. We’re currently working on getting his book in the Kindle format as well.
Stan, it’s been an honor to have worked with you and your incredible family. You, sir, are truly one of a kind. Bless you!