On the Air or IN the Air ...
Calif. Wing Member is TV Reporter/Anchor, Former Navy Journalist
By Sheila Pursglove
When a friend invited former U.S. Navy journalist Ken Wayne to join Civil Air Patrol's Amelia Earhardt Senior Squadron 188 in Oakland, California, in the fall of 2015, Wayne was intrigued.
“I didn’t know much about CAP, but he told me I’d get to fly a 182 with a slick G1000 in it, and that was appealing,” said Wayne, a longtime reporter and anchor for KTVU-TV, the Fox affiliate in San Francisco. “I also missed the camaraderie of the military and service aspect, so it felt natural to be back in a military-style setting.
“I’m still in my early stages of training (as a CAP public affairs officer) and have a long way to go but hope to contribute as much as I can.”
The CAP second lieutenant brings to the table a love of flying, a six-year military background and some 40 years of journalism and broadcasting experience.
A native of Marin in the north San Francisco Bay area, Wayne followed in his father’s footsteps and joined the U.S. Navy out of high school. “I liked to write, and when I heard they had a journalism program I was hooked,” he said.
Wayne filed this report on CAP's role in security preparations for Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara last year.
After attending the joint service Defense Information School and learning journalism and broadcasting with students from other military branches, Wayne was sent to the AFRTS (Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) station at Naval Station Adak, a Navy base 1,200 miles west of Anchorage, Alaska, in the Aleutian Islands.
“Kind of like Robin Williams in ‘Good Morning, Vietnam,’” he said.
After Alaska came a two-year tour on the guided missile cruiser USS Biddle, based out of Norfolk, Virginia, where he ran the ship’s closed-circuit TV station, wrote news releases about activities, served on the security guard force and was the “designated swimmer” for rescuing anyone who fell overboard — thankfully, no one did.
During his time on the Biddle, the cruiser crossed Moammar Gadhafi’s “Line of Death” in the Gulf of Sidra in 1981, patrolled the Egyptian coast after President Anwar Sadat’s assassination the same year, and escorted a Palestine Liberation Organization flotilla out of Beirut to Tunisia.
Wayne’s last military assignment was as news chief of the Far East Network at Naval Station Subic Bay, Philippines, covering Navy activities that included a massive relief effort in 1984 after Typhoon Ike wiped out several fishing villages in Surigao.
After he left the Navy, Wayne’s first civilian TV job was at a small station in the California desert town of Palm Springs. While living in this haven for celebrities, Wayne came across Liberace buying bread at a Marie Callender’s restaurant and met Frank Sinatra while shooting a benefit concert.
He then worked at stations in Chico, Fresno and Sacramento before heading to Los Angeles, where he rubbed shoulders with such entertainment icons as Tony Curtis, Sophia Loren, Clint Eastwood, Tom Selleck and Jimmy Stewart, among other celebs.
He was working in L.A. in March 1991 when a man who videotaped four Los Angeles Police Department officers’ beating of a black man turned the tape in at the station. It turned out to be the infamous Rodney King video, segments of which were aired around the world.
Wayne returned to his beloved Bay Area in 1991. He has worked at KTVU Oakland/San Francisco/San Jose for 23 years and has anchored the weekend evening newscasts since 2002.
He enjoys reporting a wide variety of subject matter and giving people information that can affect their lives. “Anchoring can be reporting as well, especially when there’s breaking news,” he said.
“You never know what you could end up doing when you go to work. One day it’s a fire or crime scene, the next it’s a political or weather event, sometimes both involving heavy wind.”
Out of a multitude of great news stories, Wayne has a hard time picking a favorite. “Being in New York after 9/11 or in New Orleans during Katrina will stay with me forever,” he said. “But when the Giants won their first World Series in 2010 after more than 50 years, and seeing strangers hug each other on the streets of San Francisco, that was pretty special. As a Giants fan it couldn’t have been much better to cover that story.”
The Earhart squadron has enjoyed publicity through Wayne’s reporting, including his major coverage of the California Wing’s security flights in support of Super Bowl 50, held Feb. 7, 2016, at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
Not only does Wayne love to be on the air, he loves being in the air. He received initial flight training in the 1980s at Cubi Point Naval Air Station in the Philippines, where he soloed but was discharged before he got his pilot’s certificate.
“Twenty years later I lived next to a 777 captain who also had a 182, and he pushed me to finish my training,” he said.
He enjoys flying across the West in his 1972 Cessna 182, including up to the Idaho Panhandle and down to Scottsdale, Arizona, for spring baseball training. “Most of my flying is with my wife for little getaways, like Catalina or Lake Tahoe,” he said.
Wayne is working on a TV show project involving his dog Mango, a pup he found abandoned on a dirt airstrip in Baja. “I work with Pilots N Paws to fly dogs from kill shelters to new homes,” he said. “The show will focus on the practical and fun aspects of general aviation.”