Rollin Post | May 27, 1930 - October 3, 2011
Rollin Kirby Post of Corte Madera, California, died at home on October 3, 2011 from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 81. Mr. Post was the most respected political reporter and commentator on television in California from the late 1960s-90s.
Mr. Post was born on May 27, 1930 in New York, New York. His father, Langdon Ward Post, was a New York State Assemblyman and member of Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Turkey” Cabinet before holding various New York City and federal government positions, primarily in housing. His mother, Janet Kirby Post, was a fashion model and civic volunteer. Mr. Post was named for his maternal grandfather, Rollin Kirby, a three-time winner – and the first recipient – of the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning.Mr. Post attended Riverdale Country School where he was recognized for his baseball sportsmanship. He lived briefly in Tucson before moving with his mother to Southern California. There he attended The Webb School in Claremont, where he was captain of his high school baseball team. After a year at San Francisco State University and a year in the U.S. Army, Mr. Post attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. While at Cal he lived in Bowles Hall.
After college, Mr. Post turned down a copyboy job at the San Francisco Chronicle and returned to Southern California with the goal of working in television, a medium still in its infancy. Inspired by Edward R. Murrow, he started as an usher at CBS Radio, then worked as morning copyboy for the news bureau. While at CBS Mr. Post met his wife of 57 years, Diane Opley Post. After a ten-week courtship they became engaged; the couple married on September 18, 1954. The Posts lived in Pacific Palisades for several years and had two daughters. In 1957 Mr. Post moved to CBS affiliate KTTV, where he was head writer and producer for The Paul Coates Report, a nationally-syndicated newsmaker interview show and the first of its kind on television.
The Posts moved to San Francisco in 1961 and several months later bought a house in Greenbrae (Marin County), California, in which they lived for 47 years. Their son was born nearby. Mr. Post began work as morning producer and assignment editor for KPIX-TV Channel 5 News in San Francisco, and within a year became a news reporter. His career in broadcast journalism would span 40 years.
Soon after Mr. Post’s first appearance on the air, he won two awards from The Press Club of San Francisco. Active in Democratic party politics, Mr. Post stopped his personal involvement when he began reporting on politics, beginning with the 1964 Democratic and Republican conventions. They were the first of nine presidential election cycles on which he reported; he attended 18 national conventions over 33 years. Also at KPIX, Mr. Post began a long tradition of live election night coverage of local and national elections. From his earliest assignments, he cultivated sources in both the Democratic and Republican parties and earned a reputation for fairness. He was and remained the only local television reporter covering politics exclusively, and interviewed the leading political figures of the day.
In 1973 after 12 years at KPIX, Mr. Post joined the evening round-table commentators on KQED-TV Channel 9’s Newsroom program. Newsroom evolved into A Closer Look, which Mr. Post co-hosted with his long-time colleague beginning at KPIX, Belva Davis. For A Closer Look in 1978, Mr. Post undertook an uncommon assignment when he traveled to Cuba to file a three-piece story on life “behind the scenes” in Castro’s post-revolutionary country. In addition to nightly reporting and analysis on KQED, Mr. Post hosted California Tonight with Ms. Davis, a weekly public affairs program that aired statewide.
Mr. Post moved to KRON-TV Channel 4 in 1979, where he remained as political editor until his retirement in 1997. While at KRON he continued daily political news reporting, evening commentary, and local and national election coverage. For 16 years with Ms. Davis, he hosted Sunday morning public affairs programs Weekend Extra and California This Week, then Our World This Week, an international news show. Early at KRON Mr. Post achieved national recognition when he interviewed Senator Edward Kennedy during his primary campaign for president. Mr. Kennedy’s surprising comments on the Shah of Iran during the Iran hostage crisis made international headlines and probably cost the senator his party’s nomination. In 1986 Mr. Post traveled to Manila to report on the Philippine presidential election, feeling the story warranted local coverage given the Bay Area’s large Filipino population.
Throughout his career Mr. Post supported his union, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), and joined picket lines twice. In 1974, a year after starting at KQED, Mr. Post was among the reporters who led engineers, camera operators, and others in an 18-week strike, the first and only major strike against a PBS station. Then in 1980, less than a year after joining KRON, Mr. Post was on the picket line again when AFTRA and electrical and office workers’ unions struck the news station. He served as chairman of the strike committee.
In later years Mr. Post earned a number of professional awards. In 1983 he received the prestigious Broadcast Preceptor Award for “Outstanding Contributions to the Industry” from the 32nd Annual San Francisco State University Broadcast Industry Conference. A year later the CORO Foundation honored him with an Investment in Leadership Award. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences inducted Mr. Post into the Silver Circle Class of 1990. In 1991 he received the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
Mr. Post was active in his community and served on several volunteer boards, including Common Cause, the World Affairs Council, U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, and Marin County Historical Society. Upon his retirement, he helped fundraise for the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive and was one of the first volunteers to tutor youngsters through Marin County School Volunteers.
Mr. Post was an ardent baseball fan. He divided his loyalties between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics, attending numerous games each season from the early 1960s until shortly before his death. Mr. Post was a tennis player in his younger years and member of the Rafael Racquet Club. A committed environmentalist throughout his life, he enjoyed taking his family on camping trips in the West. He remained an avid hiker and walker into his final years.
Mr. Post enjoyed movies and in 1972 appeared as himself in The Candidate with Robert Redford. He listened to an eclectic range of popular music and counted among his favorite performers Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Johnny Cash. Mr. Post and his wife regularly attended performances of the Marin and San Francisco Symphonies, San Francisco Opera, and San Francisco Ballet. Supporters of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the couple donated an ancestral portrait by Winslow Homer to the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.
As volunteers with the International Hospitality Center (now the National Council for International Visitors), Mr. and Mrs. Post housed and entertained foreign visitors to San Francisco. Later the Posts themselves were frequent travelers, going to a variety of U.S. cities and abroad. Among his many trips overseas, Mr. Post found those to Kenya, Russia, and China particularly memorable.
Mr. Post’s passion was politics, yet the city of San Francisco held his heart. Courted early in his career by network television in New York, he chose to remain in the Bay Area. Mr. Post had a wide circle of friends throughout California. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather.
Among Mr. Post’s finest qualities were his intellectual curiosity, sense of humor, integrity, lack of pretense, and unflagging enthusiasm. He is survived by his wife, Diane Post, two sisters, Wendy Moreton and Linda Post, three children, Lauren, Cynthia, and Kenneth Post, and five grandchildren.
Mr. Post was a long-time proponent of community and national efforts to improve society. His family requests that those wishing to remember him make a contribution to one of the following organizations of particular meaning to him: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Common Cause, KQED, Marin County School Volunteers, San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive, Save the Bay, or World Affairs Council. Contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association also would be fitting.
An event to recognize Mr. Post’s professional and personal friendships is planned for later this autumn. Please send your name and email address to Mr. Post’s family via www.rollinpost.com to be apprised of the date, time, and location.
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The Post Family
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