Editor’s Note: This was part five in a series about local people connected to the early days of television.
When it comes to discussions about legendary figures in the history of local television, former TV anchor and reporter Stan Atkinson should always be in those conversations.
With a review of Stan’s awards alone, one can quickly gain an understanding that he was far from an average person in the field of journalism.
Stan was a three-time Emmy Award winner and a recipient of both the World Affairs Council Award of Excellence for International Reporting and the Sacramento Region Community Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. And these are just some of the awards that he has received.
Last week, Stan sat down in his Arden area home to discuss his journalism career, which spanned nearly a half-century. But before presenting details about that time, he spoke about the pre-media portion of his life. “I was born (in San Diego) on Nov. 11, 1932,” Stan said. “I was a peace baby, a Veterans (Day) baby.” After being asked to speak about his parents, Stan said, “It’s a long story, because I was adopted. I was raised by the Atkinsons – Stan and Bess Atkinson.”
Although most Sacramento area residents remember Stan for his television days, the majority of those people are not familiar with his relatively brief time working in radio.
In speaking about his first experience in radio, Stan said, “I was the sports editor of my high school newspaper and they started doing a radio show on Friday afternoons. So, I would do the sports segment, and I enjoyed it so much I ended up doing most of the show. I really liked it. I hadn’t had any experience with radio other than to listen to it. I was a high school senior then and I thought, ‘Well, I really like this and maybe this is something I could do (for a living) and should do.’ So, I announced to my father (the eldest Stan Atkinson) that I didn’t want to go to college.
I wanted to go to a school that would get you a first-class (Federal Communications Commission) license. My father was very disappointed, disgusted maybe, because he wanted me to go onto college and he had ideas of me becoming a lawyer. In disgust, he said, ‘Okay, I’ll give you the $300 to go to school.’ And he said, ‘And that’s it; then you’re on your own.’ I said, ‘Okay, good deal.’ So, I went to school (at the William Ogden Radio Operational Engineering School) in Burbank Calif.). I got the first-class license with great difficulty.”
Stan explained that after earning his first-class license in 1951, he had many employment opportunities in radio.
“Gosh, there were 200 jobs out there all over the country for the 25 of us who were in the (Ogden) class,” Stan said. “You pretty much had your pick.”
After reviewing his options, Stan decided that he would like to work for a particular, Armed Forces radio-founded radio station in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
To Stan’s delight, the station, after reviewing his audition disc, offered him a job.
Stan lives in Sacramento and celebrated his 90th birthday on November 11, 2022