Komo Anchor King Signs Off

Everybody, it seems, has something nice to say about Bruce King, who for 31 years has delivered sports news of the day in a cheerful, energetic, straight-forward fashion as part of KOMO-TV's evening news team.

King, who turns 65 on Friday, delivers his final report today on KOMO's 5 p.m. newscast. He planned this three years ago, when he negotiated a contract that switched him from weeknights to weekend anchor duties and assured him of no out-of-town travel. He now wants to devote more time to his family, particularly his wife, Bonnie. They will celebrate their 34th anniversary in November.

"I'm 65, and it's just time," King says. "In a business that changes so dramatically, to be able to retire while still on the air is a great satisfaction to me. I've had the opportunity to cover almost every major athletic event there is and turn it into a career that I've enjoyed. That's just terrific."

Eric Johnson, who came to KOMO from Portland in the fall of 1993 and replaced King as the station's weeknight sports anchor in 1996, says he marvels at King's unfailingly upbeat persona.

"Everything you see on TV, it's not an act," says Johnson, 37. "He doesn't go out there and flip on a switch and become Bruce King.

It's the way the guy is."

King, a graduate of the University of Oregon, broke into television at KEZI-TV in Eugene in 1960.

"I don't know how I ever kept a job," he says. "I look at my pictures with those horn-rimmed glasses and a gap in my teeth and

just wonder. (He capped the gap in the mid-1980s.) But sometimes you're just lucky and standing in the right place at the right time."

After a five-year stay at KEZI and brief stint at KNTV in San Jose, he then became a producer/reporter for KABC in Los Angeles in 1966. He covered the first Super Bowl, played at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, for KABC.

He became KOMO's sports director in 1968 and stayed until 1980, when he was hired to fill the same role at New York's WABC.

After his move, management at WABC upheaval diminished King's enthusiasm for staying in New York, and by 1981 he was back at KOMO. Since then, he has remained one of the city's most recognized sports media personalities.

King, owner of two local Emmy Awards and a four-time state sportscaster of the year, says he prefers an Old School, just-the-facts approach to reporting with an emphasis on brighter side of sports.

"I enjoy talking about the game itself," he says. "All the other stuff around it, that's for somebody else to talk about.

"It's easy to frown. Life is too short not to smile," says King, who was diagnosed with polio at age 3 and has walked with a limp ever since.

"I'm an emotional person, someone who might shed a tear just because the sun is coming up. I've always been the upbeat type who enjoys thinking in positive terms. I've never thought you could gain anything by putting someone down."

King has experienced his share of gaffes. During a draw prior to Seafair hydroplane races in 1969, he turned to commentator Mike Welsh and blanked on his name.

After some red-faced stammering, King finally apologized and admitted he could not remember the name of his partner.

While calling play-by-play for a University of Washington game, Alabama running back Major Ogilvie broke loose for an exciting touchdown run. "I said he was at the 10, the 5. . . . Touchdown, Kansas!" King recalls. "I said Kansas? For the life of me, I have no idea where that came from. You could hear a pin drop in the broadcast booth."

His favorite interview? Muhammad Ali. "He's a special kind of person," he says.

King will turn over his weekend anchor chair to reporter Frank Chiappone tonight at 11 p.m.