L.A. Radio/TV Icon Ralph Story Passes
L.A. Area Governors Award Honoree was 86
Los Angeles, CA - Iconic Los Angeles broadcasting personality Ralph Story, who chronicled life in the Southland on both radio and television from the late 1940s through the 1980s, died Tuesday at his home in Santa Ynez. Story, who was 86, had been battling emphysema.
Story is perhaps best known as host and narrator of the Emmy-winning weekly magazine series Ralph Story’s Los Angeles, which aired on KNXT-TV — now KCBS-TV — from 1964 to 1970. The series was an ideal forum for Story’s signature style of reporting, which blended an easy, conversational tone with impeccable journalistic standards and a compelling storytelling technique.
He was born Ralph Bernard Snyder on Aug. 19, 1920, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. His began his media career as a part-time announcer in the nearby city of Grand Rapids. During World War II, he flew 63 missions over Europe as a P-51 pilot.
When he returned from the war, he was hired as a radio announcer at WGR in Buffalo, N.Y. He moved to Los Angeles in 1948 to host and direct a morning radio show on the CBS station KNX-AM. At the suggestion of station management, he changed his surname from Snyder to Story.
In 1956 he left KNX but remained with CBS, which hired him to host the game show The $64,000 Challenge. At that time, scandals surrounding such game shows as 21, which was tainted by allegations that the results were rigged, brought an end to Story’s quizmaster career, although he was never implicated in any impropriety.
In 1960 he returned to Los Angeles, where he resumed employment at KNX. He was the anchor of the four-hour news show Storyline.
The following year, when KNXT launched The Big News, America’s first one-hour TV news broadcast, Story was a member of the on-air broadcast team, along with anchor Jerry Dunphy, sports reporter Gil Stratton and weatherman Bill Keene.
In 1964, Story helped to pioneer magazine format television with the launch of KNXT’s Ralph Story’s Los Angeles, which featured stories about Los Angeles, its residents and its history.
He broke ground in another genre with the 1970s morning show AM Los Angeles, which he co-hosted on KABC-TV along with Stephanie Edwards.
In recognition of his vast contributions to Los Angeles area broadcasting, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences granted Story its highest honor, the Governors Award, in 1983.
In addition to his broadcasting career, Story was active in numerous civic and professional groups, including the Hollywood Bowl, the Rose Parade and the public television stations KCET and KOCE.
Story and his wife, Diana, moved to Santa Ynez, in 1984. They operated an art gallery in the community of Los Olivos.
He is survived by his wife, Diana, and a son from his first marriage. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Los Olivos.