Our Northwest

Ken Schram remembered as genial, not gruff

Friday, May 30, 2014by  Jon Osterberg

Longtime KOMO News personality Ken Schram is gone. The former TV and radio reporter/commentator died today at age 66 after a long illness.
   Schram thrived at KOMO for 35 years, most of that time on TV and later as a KOMO Radio afternoon host, before leaving in 2012.
   Known for issuing his dreaded “Schrammie” awards to people and things he deemed buffoons, the man had an opinion on everything and let you know it.
   He could be brash, caustic, sarcastic, and condescending. Being PEMCO’s media spokesperson, I feared the day Schram would call and put me on the hot seat.
   That day finally came. Several times.
   And each time, Schram was fair, civil, and in fact, cordial.
   I learned that Schram had a sense of humor, and he found amusing irony in the results of our PEMCO Polls.
   In 2011, we polled Puget Sound residents about HOV lanes and learned that 27% of drivers admit they use them illegally. Schram interviewed me live on his radio show and tried to nudge me onto a slippery slope, hoping I would admit to abusing HOVs myself. But he was lighthearted about it when I didn’t take the bait.
   Another PEMCO Poll revealed 38% of Washingtonians believe it’s possible Sasquatch exists, and 13% claim to have seen one. Schram ate that up. We spent several minutes discussing giant, hairy bipeds.
   Texting while driving, left-lane campers – no matter the topic, I remained braced for a Schram curveball, if not a high-and-inside heater. But it never came. The guy was a straight shooter with me. I’d like to think it’s because he knew and respected PEMCO as an honest, straight-talk company.
   People recall Schram voicing bitter disappointment when he learned KOMO Radio was abandoning talk and going all news in September 2012. Indeed, KOMO bought out the rest of his contract in December 2012. But instead of hearing caustic Ken, we heard gracious Ken.
   "I've had an awesome career,” he told Erik Lacitis of The Seattle Times. “KOMO gave me a lot of latitude. They just decided it was time."
   Yes, the times are a-changing at KOMO. Several popular TV personalities have either died or retired in the past couple of years. Dan Lewis. Kathi Goertzen. Bryan Johnson. Bob Throndsen. And now, Ken Schram.
   Thanks for being decent with me, Ken. Firm, but fair.

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