After 40 years as a TV news reporter, Bob Hansen, with KNSD-NBC 7 San Diego, will retire on Thursday, Nov. 18. He’s known as “Consumer Bob,” both affectionately and legally (more details later on the legal perspective).
“I’m turning 68 in January,” Hansen told Times of San Diego. “I love my job, but I believe it’s time to move on. I’m feeling a mixture of both anxiety and excitement.”
A year ago in November 2020, as part of his contract renewal negotiations, Hansen asked to reduce his work schedule to four days a week for six months, followed by three days a week for the following six months. That’s why his final day on the job will be during the 6 p.m. newscast on a Thursday.
“In 2020, I requested a one-year contract when I normally sign three-year deals,” Hansen said. “I wanted to ease into retirement and management was receptive to the idea. The pandemic had resulted in lost revenue so they were more than happy to save some money on another employee salary.”
Hansen arrived in San Diego in January 1990 to work at KFMB-TV Channel 8. His reporting career began in 1980 in Columbia, Mo., while earning a master’s degree in journalism at the University of Missouri. He also worked in Fort Myers, Fla. as weekend anchor (1982-1984) and in Louisville, Ky. as a general assignment reporter (1984 to 1989).
“While living in Louisville, I never saw the Kentucky Derby horse race in person because I was normally outside Churchill Downs for a live shot,” Hansen recalled. “One year, I was on live from the infield, where you can’t see the race at all.”
Every six months or so, for several years during the 1980s, Hansen said he would send an audition tape to Jim Holtzman, longtime news director at Channel 8.
“Jim would always reply and tell me that he had watched my work,” Hansen said. “His note to me would always end the same way. He would write, `Someday, you’ll work here.’ It took a while, but he finally hired me as a general assignment reporter.”
After a year of reporting on the latest news events, Holtzman called Hansen into his office for a life-changing meeting.
Hansen recalled the conversation: “He asked me to sit down and then said, `Bob, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, but we want to make you a consumer reporter.’ He was right, I didn’t like their decision. I loved covering breaking news. Then Jim said, ‘Think about it,’ which meant get used to it, which I did. It’s a job I have learned to love and embrace for many years.”
As a consumer reporter, Channel 8 news producer Barbara Richards gave Hansen the moniker of “Consumer Bob,” which was inspired by a news story he did on a Microsoft operating system called “Microsoft Bob.”
“Consumer Bob was a lighthearted, off-the-air joke until anchor Sandra Maas introduced my segment during a newscast as ‘and now we turn to Consumer Bob,’” Hansen said. “She had warned me off the air that she was going to call me Consumer Bob on the air. I didn’t believe she would do it until she did.
“She said it during a Thursday and Friday night newscast. That weekend, on Saturday and Sunday, as we were running errands, a large number of people stopped me on the streets to say, `Hi, Consumer Bob.” I was overwhelmed. It was a name people remembered.
“So, I went to see an attorney and got the name trademarked. Consumer Bob is a registered trademark that I own. From a legal perspective, I’m really Consumer Bob.”
In 2001, new management at KFMB-TV wanted to clean house and hire new reporters. Hansen’s last day at Channel 8 was Sept. 12, the day after the 9/11 terrorist attack on U.S. soil. Hansen began as a freelancer at KNSD-TV in October 2001, and was hired on a full-time basis as Consumer Bob in July 2002.
“To Channel 8’s credit, I’ve always been grateful that they never tried to prevent me from using the Consumer Bob name when I joined NBC,” said Hansen.
As the lead on NBC 7 Responds Team, a consumer investigative unit, the station boasts Hansen has saved San Diego viewers more than $1 million.
“We’ve kept a running total for years so that figure is accurate,” said Hansen. “Consumer reporting is great because it gives me more rapport with the audience. I’m the same, approachable guy off the air so I’m always happy to talk to someone who walks up with a question.”
He said his most favorite stories have involved helping ordinary citizens avoid scams and save money on deals, ranging from gasoline to airline fare.
“I want to be remembered as someone who cared about his craft and loved the opportunity to be part of people’s lives,” said Hansen. “I will miss the writing part of my job and putting a story together. The challenge of writing is both dreaded and addictive from a professional standpoint.”
In 2019, Hansen’s year-long series on billing inaccuracies imposed by the City of San Diego Public Utilities Dept., called “Flood of Distrust,” earned the Media Watchdog Award from the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. NBC 7 uncovered a “glitch” in meter readers that significantly increased water bills, said SDCTA. After disproving several allegations made by the city, the series prompted an internal review of the agency that culminated in a structural reorganization and changes in city staff either by reassignment or retirement.
“I’m proud to have worked on the water billing story,” he said. “Another memorial story was a sheriff’s deputy who lost his leg on the job. His insurance company denied his claim until we contacted them. Two days after our phone call, he received a check for $125,000.”
Bob and wife Lorraine have been married for 42 years. They have four children who live in four time zones, including New York City, Texas, Utah and Hawaii, and nine grandchildren.
“We will travel and visit the grandkids, and I’ll have more time with my photography hobby, play volleyball and surf,” said Hansen, who set-up his own darkroom at age 16 at his La Mirada childhood home.
Hansen also said he will devote more time to volunteer with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bob has served in the past as a Mormon bishop at a Rancho Penasquitos church.
San Diego Magazine Sold to TV Food Network Judge
San Diego Magazine, founded in 1948 and owned by Jim Fitzpatrick for the past 27 years, has been sold to Troy and Claire Johnson of Ocean Beach. Troy is a longtime food writer and TV personality who has appeared as a judge in more than 100 episodes of Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.”
“Timing is everything,” Fitzpatrick told Times of San Diego over the weekend. “Troy and Claire came along at exactly the right time. They have a lot of new, exciting ideas. It’s the right time for me step down and hand-it-off to a new generation.”
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. San Diego Magazine’s online properties were included in the sale. It’s believed that Troy, 48, and Claire, 34, financed the deal with personal savings plus capital from investors. Fitzpatrick confirmed that he will retain a minority ownership and will remain in an advisory capacity.
“It’s the right time for me to retire,” said Fitzpatrick, 75. “It will be great for me, great for Troy and Claire, great for San Diego Magazine and great for San Diego. I know they will do well and our readers will love it.”
The monthly print publication has 41,000 monthly subscribers and boasts more than 800,000 unique readers and about 400,000 followers on social media. Troy Johnson has been a food critic for the magazine since 2010.
In 1994, Fitzpatrick purchased San Diego Magazine from founders and married couple Ed and Gloria Self. He sold it 11 years later to Malibu-based CurtCo Media, only to return a second time as owner beginning in 2010. In 2020, the magazine took a three-month hiatus due to the economic shutdown from the coronavirus pandemic, and then resumed business operations in June 2020.
Replay of Cox ‘Salute to Teachers’ Airing in November
A repeat of the 31st annual “Cox Presents: Salute to Teachers,” a TV awards show that honored five public school teachers, will air three times in November, including 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, 9 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 7 and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13, on Cox Communications’ Channel 4 YurView.
The show, produced by Cox Communications in partnership with the San Diego County Office of Education, aired live on Sunday, Oct. 13. Media sponsors included KPBS, iHeart Radio, The Mightier 1090, The San Diego Union-Tribune and San Diego Magazine. Emcee of the show was Troy Johnson of Food Network.
This year’s five honorees included: Tiffany Jokerst, West Hills High School, Grossmont Union High School District; Jacquelyn Jourdane, San Altos Elementary School, Lemon Grove School District; Heather McClain, James Dukes Elementary School, Ramona Unified School District; Laura Reyes, Central Elementary School, Escondido Union School District; Xye Sanders, César Chávez Middle School, Oceanside Unified School District.
Channel 4 YurView is available to both Cox Communications and Spectrum cable TV subscribers.
PRSA to Host In-Person Bernays Awards Ceremony
The Public Relations Society of America’s San Diego-Imperial Counties chapter will host an in-person awards ceremony for its annual 2021 Bernays Awards of Excellence on Thursday, Nov. 18, at the San Diego Natural History Museum in Balboa Park.
The event schedule includes networking beginning at 4 p.m., the annual chapter meeting and election of 2022 board of directors at 4:30 p.m. and awards ceremony at 5 p.m. The awards are named after Edward L. Bernays, often called the “father of public relations,” who launched the field of PR in the 1920s.
Admission is $60 for members, $30 for students. Attendance will be limited to 100 people, including a maximum of five people per organization. Tickets sales will end Nov. 11. For more information, visit www.prsasdic.org.
Rick Griffin is a San Diego-based public relations and marketing consultant. His MarketInk column appears weekly on Mondays in Times of San Diego.