Sturholm dies at 80
KING-TV Chief Photographer and Executive Producer Phil Sturholm passed
away at home Tuesday night.
reached out to several of his colleagues and friends this morning, and
they are heartbroken. Sturholm was set to host a KING-TV reunion
breakfast on Friday. The news of his passing is a huge blow to the
people who knew and loved him, to photojournalism and storytelling as a
whole. Sturholm is a legend. He is a legend well beyond the halls
word legend is often overused, frequently misused, but in Phil's case it
perfectly applies,” said Laddy Kite, a retired KING photojournalist.
“In many ways, he was the cornerstone of KING-TV. Yes, Dorothy
Bullitt founded the station and infused it with her sense of purpose and
dedication to community service, but it was Phil Sturholm who hired the
best visual storytellers around. It was Phil who trained and
mentored the shooters, reporters, and producers.”
the photographers, it is hard to say that a man we’ve never met is
responsible for us being here now, but in many ways it is true.
Sturholm laid the groundwork for what we have. He is largely why
KING won NPPA Station of the Year in 1979, ’81, and ‘82.
Today, those plaques sit in a glass case in this newsroom.
had a profound effect on both his staff and the industry and essentially
invented photojournalism in the Northwest,” said retired KING-TV chief
photographer Steve Dowd.
set the tone for the NPPA,” adds KING photojournalist Dave Wike. “He
set the tone for news photography.”
his competitors loved and admired him. John Larson worked at KOMO-TV
during part of his era.
was a mentor to all of us, even if we worked at other stations,” said
Larson. “He was the standard bearer, the highest road. I worked
at a competitor, but in truth? I cared more about what Phil
is remembered most for his compassion, both in his storytelling and his
was a big man with a delicate touch,” said Dowd.
generous soul, a storytelling giant. That was Phil Sturholm,” said
KING reporter John Sharify.
was a manager, teacher, and the team spirit,” said Linda Brill, a
retired KING reporter. “He lifted everyone and made everyone
proud of each other. If you did a good job, Phil would give you an
a note in your file or a Starbucks card, but a hearty pat on the back, a
big hug or throw you up in the air with a loud howl of
Kite added: “Often, after the 5 p.m. newscast, there would be a line
of reporters and photographers outside his office door seeking his
comments, advice, and encouragement on that day's journalistic efforts.
He always had relevant and supportive things to say, sending each person
back to work eager to do even better the next day.”
was among the lucky ones who heard from him regularly. He was so kind in
his comments,” said Sharify.
Wike still has Sturholm’s picture in his gear locker. “Have
you shot your wide shot today?”, it said. Phil Sturholm hired
Wike, the reason Wike is even in the business. “He smoked cigars
and looked like he would tear your head off, but he was the nicest man
you’d ever meet.” He adds, “I wanted to send out a newsroom
note today, but the screen was a little fuzzy.”
Sturholm was not only a teacher and mentor,” said retired KING
photojournalist Ken Jones. “He did teach us the technical side
of journalism but also the heart. He taught us by example. What it meant
to be a journalist, what it meant to represent KING TV, to care for your
colleagues and to have compassion for those whose lives we touched on a
Sharify said, “When the KING 5 photojournalists produced a show called
'Take a Moment,’ he wrote an email to a bunch of us: ' Wow, now that
was a terrific tribute to every photog everywhere. Just a great
show guys. It's really a pleasure to know and see how far you've taken
was his happiest when he was working with us and having a manager like
that was unbelievably empowering,” said Dowd. “He got the best
out of us by showing us how it was done and genuinely caring about us in
is sadly ironic that within hours of the demolishing of the KING
building, the man who gave it so much of its meaning and so much of his
life, has left it and us,” said Kite. “Thank you, Phil! Fade
by Matt Mrozinski, Director of Photojournalism at KING 5.