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KUOW’s Ross Reynolds to Retire after 34 Years

December 15, 2021 — Ross Reynolds is retiring this January after 34 years of work in service of the Puget Sound community and KUOW’s mission to create and serve a more informed public.

During his tenure at KUOW, Reynolds made an indelible impact on the station, holding many roles including news director, program director, reporter, host, and executive producer of community engagement. Perhaps most notably, Reynolds facilitated the station’s transition from a mixed-format news and classical station to the premiere local, national and international news station KUOW listeners know today.

“KUOW has a new crop of journalists and administrators now, but the radio station is indelibly marked by Ross' devotion to our craft, to our listeners, and to all the exciting possibilities audio presents to listeners,” said Marcie Sillman, former KUOW host and arts reporter. “I feel so lucky to have worked at his side during KUOW's evolution from a small campus radio station into a community institution.”

caption: KUOW's Ross Reynolds is retiring after 34 years at the station (and 5,500 hours of on-air hosting).
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KUOW's Ross Reynolds is retiring after 34 years at the station (and 5,500 hours of on-air hosting).
Credit: KUOW Archives

 

KUOW provided me the opportunity to exercise my skills and creativity to the utmost. Spending 34 years at the same place is an awful long time, but I’ve been able to do so many different things. It’s felt like 5 consecutive careers. Ross Reynolds

Reynolds joined KUOW as assistant program director in December 1987. He had previously worked as public affairs director at WCUW in Massachusetts and the news director and program host at KBOO in Portland, Ore.

In 1988, Reynolds became the host of KUOW’s Seattle After Noon, a daily talk show. His favorite interviews from that period include singer Ruth Brown, photographer Annie Liebovitz, musician Bo Diddley, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, author David Remnick, activist Gloria Steinem, baseball great Hank Aaron and former president Jimmy Carter.

caption: Ross Reynolds in conversation with former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice.
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Ross Reynolds in conversation with former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice.
Credit: KUOW Archives

From 1992 to 1999, Reynolds served as KUOW’s program director. During that time, he led several large changes at the station, most notably changing the format from news and classical to news and talk. Under his leadership, KUOW launched their first website in 1996 and the nationally syndicated show REWIND, hosted by Bill Radke. During this period, Reynolds also hosted the daily news program Northwest Journal, which aired in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, and Upon Reflection, a weekly half hour television interview program on KCTS.

“Ross and I both come out of the community radio movement, and Ross has maintained his passion for serving our listeners for more than 40 years,” said Sillman. “KUOW listeners know Ross as a great radio host, but for me he was also one of the best bosses, both as news director and program director. That's not to say we never butted heads when it came to story ideas, or the station's growth and evolution. But unlike so many managers, Ross really values other opinions; it's not just lip service.”

caption: Film negatives of Marcie Sillman and Ross Reynolds from the early 1990s. 
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In late 1999, Reynolds made the decision to return to daily news reporting, producing stories for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace and the BBC World Service. From 2000 to 2012, he hosted the daily news talk program The Conversation. In 2012, Reynolds took the host seat on a new show, The Record, hosting until 2015.

In his last role at KUOW, Reynolds served as executive producer for community engagement, organizing off air and offline community events congruent with KUOW programming goals, including the Ask A… Project, That’s Debatable and Meet the Newsmakers.

“One of the things I admire most about Ross is his dedication to the public good,” said Zaki Hamid, KUOW community engagement director. “I’ll never forget when he called me in 2016 (before I was working at KUOW) and told me that he wants to create an event where people can have a more nuanced understanding of Muslim Americans. He called the event Ask A Muslim, an event where several Muslims would have a series of short conversations with non-Muslims. That single event, born out of pure curiosity, and dedication to KUOW’s vision of broadening conversations, and deepening understanding, led to the highly innovative Ask A… program.”

caption: Ross Reynolds and KUOW staff members pose after wrapping up an "Ask a..." event.
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Ross Reynolds and KUOW staff members pose after wrapping up an "Ask a..." event.
Credit: KUOW Archives
caption: Ross Reynolds moderates 'That's Debatable: The Homelessness Crisis is Killing Seattle' on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
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Ross Reynolds moderates 'That's Debatable: The Homelessness Crisis is Killing Seattle' on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Across his decades-long career, Reynolds has been recognized with numerous accolades including two 1995 Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Awards for Excellence in Radio Programming, a 2001 Casey Journalism Fellowship; a Journalism, Education and the Public Good Fellowship in 2001 and 2002; a 2001 Seattle Magazine award for Best Talk Show; a 2001 New York Gold Festival World Medal for The Conversation; a 2003 Jefferson Fellowship; a 2007 Knight Center for Specialized Journalism Fellowship; a 2009 Seattle Weekly “Best Local Radio Show” award for The Conversation, a 2010 National Press Foundation Fellowship; a 2011 International Center for Journalists Fellowship; a 2011 United Nations Foundation Press Fellowship on Global Health; a 2012 East West Center U.S. Korea Journalism Fellowship; a 2014 RIAS Berlin Journalism Fellowship; and a 2014 United Nations Foundation Journalism Fellowship on Climate Change. In 2015, Reynolds was inducted into the University of Washington Communication Alumni Hall of Fame.

"Journalism can only prevail as a cornerstone of democracy through the courageous perseverance of media professionals like Ross Reynolds with impeccable integrity, unrelenting curiosity, dynamism in changing environments and care and concern for community. Ross answered the call and stepped up to serve in whatever form KUOW and its audiences needed," said Caryn Mathes, KUOW president and general manager.

caption: Ross Reynolds having some fun while reporting a story in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
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Ross Reynolds having some fun while reporting a story in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Credit: KUOW Archives

Although Reynolds has not hosted a daily show for more than five years, he’s often recognized by strangers as soon as he opens his mouth. That’s because he’s hosted more than 5,500 hours of radio programs over his 34 years. And that doesn’t include all the time he spent haranguing you to call 206-543-9595 during pledge drives.

Please join us in wishing Ross all the best as he begins is well-earned retirement, and in gratitude for his decades of service to KUOW and the people of the Puget Sound region. If you’d like to send a note of congratulations or thanks to Ross, fill out the form below.


caption: Ross Reynolds catches a solar eclipse from the KUOW rooftops.
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Ross Reynolds catches a solar eclipse from the KUOW rooftops.