by Adrienne Hare
Kirk Matthews ’69 starts his day each morning at 2:30 a.m. and arrives at Hawaii’s KHON2 just after 3 a.m. As the morning anchor of KHON2’s “Wake Up 2Day” being a morning person is a must for his job. “There are lots of details that have to be taken care of before we go on the air at five in the morning. We have a three-hour show that includes lots of news and interviews. Once the live broadcast is done, I focus on several different areas - the environment, concerns about our senior citizens, financial issues and medical concerns. I have to head out of the station and do a story for the evening newscast each day. I'm usually finished around noon,” said Matthews.
Matthews came to a broadcasting career in a roundabout way. After transferring to Oregon College of Education as a sophomore, he had originally planned on following in the footsteps of his father and becoming a teacher, but it seemed as though fate would have other plans for Matthews. “It was a turbulent time in the sixties and while I took some education courses, I ended up getting a general studies degree. I became involved in political science and took several courses. The combination of English, writing and current events gradually led me to try my hand at broadcasting. I am still in touch with friends who went on to teach and I admire them greatly. I've never been sorry about my career path and I still work with young people whenever I get the chance.”
When asked about how WOU (which was considered at the time a “teachers college”) prepared him for a life on camera his response is enthusiastic. “My education at OCE was the perfect preparation for my career.” Matthews said that he is often asked by young people hoping to pursue a similar career what journalism school they should attend. His response is to not focus on whether there’s a journalism program or not but rather to be sure that you attend a school that gives you opportunities. “That's what OCE offered me. I learned so much about the world - past, present and future - thanks to the wonderful professors and instructors there. I wish I could name them all - Richard Beck, Jack Bellamy, Guy Rooth - I'm the luckiest man in the world, thanks to all of them.”
Matthews has covered many major events including the eruption of Mt. St. Helens, “The most memorable story I covered was probably the Mt. St. Helens eruption. The BIG ONE happened on a Sunday morning and I remember sitting at a typewriter and a telephone from eight in the morning until midnight. The story went on for weeks (and is still going on). I've had the chance to interview presidents, great musicians and artists, world changers—but my favorite stories are the ones that involve young people and the energy they bring to the world. Thank goodness for the next generation.”
Knowing that each day will bring something different is what excites Matthews the most about his career in broadcasting. “When that alarm goes off at 2:30 in the morning, I look forward to what's going to happen next. It's a big world out there and I have the chance to tell my neighbors what's going on.”
Kirk and his wife Linda Coble (who also worked as a broadcaster for KOIN in Portland as well as in Hawaii) reside in Honolulu.
As a reporter for Portland’s KGW, Katherine Cook’s ‘02 “workday” is anything but typical. She’s got to be ready to be anywhere, at any time. “You always have to be prepared for anything—snow coverage on Mt. Hood, a forest fire in the summer, or sitting in a courtroom covering a murder trial. And if there's breaking news, we might drop everything and switch gears completely!”
Cook, a former WOU athlete, started broadcasting right here at Western, while working on WOU's weekly sports show. “Reporting sports stories is still a passion of mine,” says Cook, “I don't get to cover them very often, but ironically, last year I earned my first Emmy nomination for a sports story I wrote.” When asked how WOU prepared her for a career in broadcasting Cook says, “Western's communications program helped me develop my ability to think critically and on my feet. I had great professors who helped me hone my writing skills and build confidence as a public speaker.”
Cook has covered major stories both here in Oregon and in Colorado where she began her professional career after college, but it’s the people she remembers most, “The Happy Valley man who lost his right to garden in the nude, much to his neighbors' relief. The young Iraqi boy who came to Portland for a prosthetic leg after losing his during a US airstrike. I remember walking through Holly, Colo., after a tornado hit it. People's homes were destroyed, but they hung American flags outside what was left of them, to show their spirit of survival.”
“Getting to meet so many people and learning about things that I would never have experienced outside of work is both a blessing and a privilege,” said Cook when asked about the most exciting part about her job. “Being able to touch thousands of people with one person's story, you think, wow, I helped facilitate that connection! That's exciting. Flying around in 'Sky 8' is also pretty fun. “
When Katherine’s not covering the hottest stories in the Portland metro area, you can usually find her running, playing the violin, spending time with loved ones and staying active in her church. “I'm also getting into home improvement—I just finished tiling my kitchen backsplash. Operating a tile saw is very empowering!”