KTVU Channel 2 News reporter Bob MacKenzie, best known for his feature storytelling skills, died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. The Emmy Award-winning journalist was 75.
While MacKenzie is recognized for his work on TV -- he'd been with Channel 2 since 1978 and was instrumental in the development of the popular 'Segment 2' -- he began his career as a newspaperman. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1962 with a journalism degree he joined the Seaside News Sentinel in Monterey County. He later joined the Oakland Tribune, where he worked for 14 years, much of that time as the paper's television columnist. He was also TV Guide's television critic for 12 years.
An adept wordsmith, MacKenzie was often praised for his graceful prose and conversational style of reporting. He received 13 local Emmys, a National Headliners award and numerous other professional honors.
"He did a lot of hard news, but Bob absolutely is known as a brilliant feature writer," KTVU Channel 2 News Director Ed Chapuis said Thursday. "His way with words and the way he would pull great emotion out of people and write to his pictures was really his mastery."
MacKenzie wrapped up his reporting with KTVU in 2008 but never officially retired, Chapuis said. He kept in touch with the station and continued telling stories on a more informal basis. He was most recently seen briefly on the station's 9/11 anniversary special.
Longtime colleague Rita Williams said reporting came second nature to MacKenzie, and she recalled a story he'd done on Pop Rocks candy in the early 1980s.
"Here I'm laboring and crafting stories, and Bob walks out with a cameraman, and he's back in an hour," she said. "It shows the ease with which he was able to do this. He was a natural for lifestyle, kind of fun stories. He was exactly what you saw on television. Sometimes absent-minded, he didn't take notes. You didn't think he was paying attention but he would go back and write a piece."
She also recalled that he enjoyed fly-fishing and spending time at his second home in Dunsmuir.
Friend and colleague Bill Mann, of Bay Area News Group and CBS Marketwatch, described MacKenzie as a "leprechaun-like charmer" whose personality often got him out of tough predicaments.
"He marched to his own beat," Mann added. "I hear the term Renaissance Man thrown around way too much, but if anyone approached it, it was Bob."
MacKenzie is survived by his wife, Miyuki, his daughter, Dana, his sister, Jean and his brother, KTVU Chief Photographer John MacKenzie. The family is planning privates services.
Channel 2 plans to air a 30-minute tribute to MacKenzie and his work at 11 p.m. Sunday.