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Former KPIX reporter Bill Schechner dies at age 81

KPIX remembers anchor and reporter Bill Schechner
KPIX remembers anchor and reporter Bill Schechner 03:25

Former KPIX reporter and anchor Bill Schechner has passed away at the age of 81 after a long illness according to his longtime friend, journalist, and KPIX colleague Linda Schacht.

Schechner was the quintessential journalist and one of the best storytellers in the business. Born and raised in New Jersey, Schechner enjoyed a brief stint in radio before jumping to television. In 1968, he was hired as a reporter for a groundbreaking television experiment known as "Newsroom" which aired on KQED. "Newsroom" was created to inform the Bay Area during the prolonged '68 San Francisco newspaper strike.

"Schechy" as he was known to many in our newsroom, worked at CBS Bay Area for 18 years. He was hired in 1976 as a general assignment reporter. In 1981, he was lured away by the NBC television network to work as a national correspondent. Soon, he was co-anchoring a live one-hour news program known as "NBC News Overnight" with Linda Ellerbee, where he informed a national audience with his dry wit for nearly 11 years. 

Reporter Bill Schechner as seen through the years on KPIX. CBS

Schechner returned to KPIX in 1992 where he enlightened and delighted viewers as our morning and noon news anchor, and as a general assignment reporter.

For years on Channel 5's Thanksgiving Day news broadcasts, if you were lucky, you could tune in and catch a rerun of a classic Bill Schechner story - a masterful segment called "Turkey Facts." 

KPIX Classic: Bill Schechner's 'Amazing Turkey Facts' Thanksgiving report 02:35

Schechner's reporting style was unique and award-winning. His "Schechner's Journal" series received two Emmy Awards, and he was the recipient of a DuPont/Columbia University Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Charitas Award.

"Smart without arrogance, keen without cruelty," said former KPIX General Manager Harry Fuller. "Brilliant wordsmith and well-loved work-mate. Helped us during a golden age of local broadcast news."

"Bill was a brilliant writer and a brilliant reporter, who always wanted to give attention to the little guys," said Schacht. 

His dry sense of humor and delivery, his reporting, and his presence will be missed.

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