KNX Says a Bittersweet Goodbye to Retiring Radio Vet Diane Thompson

February 15, 2019 - 11:37 am

(KNX 1070) -- Anchor Diane Thompson has been leading the charge in the field of radio journalism for over four decades. Thompson is retiring Friday, but the legacy of her work will live on.

Covering events such as the 1984 Olympics, 26 Academy Award ceremonies, 14 Rose Parades (one in which her 4-year-old son at the time vomited on her during a live report), the opening ceremonies of the Reagan Library, the official visits of both Pope John Paul II and South African president Nelson Mandela, and interviewing hundreds of people for her well-known KNX Hero of the Week feature series, Thompson is a memorable veteran in the business. 

A University of Texas graduate, Thompson’s first job was in 1979 at KVUE-TV in Austin. After a brief stint in Phoenix, she moved to Los Angeles to work at the legendary station KFWB, then KHJ, and then to KNX – where she’s been for the last 34 years.

Thompson has been on the scene of countless major news stories over the years. From the Los Angeles riots to both the San Francisco and Northridge earthquakes, the Simpson and Goldman murders, the Cerritos mid-air collision between a commercial jetliner and a private plane; to her breaking the story nationally of the murder of actor Phil Hartman.

An award-winning journalist, Thompson received the prestigious Bill Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Spot News from APTRA for breaking the story of the KABC news van explosion that seriously injured reporter Adrianne Alpert – where Thompson was an eyewitness on the scene. And in 1988, she received accolades for helping to recover two Santa Monica boys who’d been kidnapped by their babysitter.

With a smile that could warm the heart of the coldest soul, it’s her KNX Hero of the Week series where Thompson truly made her mark in Southern California. Since 2007, she’s been producing the feature, and to date, she has interviewed close to 500 people for the series.

“I’ve had so many amazing and bizarre experiences over the years, and many of them are seared into my brain. The strangest one happened during one of the presidential elections when I was invited by Cedar Sinai Medical Center to interview a heart transplant patient who was voting from his hospital bed,” Thompson remembers.

She says she put on a gown and mask and interviewed the man from his special isolation room. She went home to put the story together, only to learn later that soon after she’d left, the man died. The obituary in the Los Angeles Times mentioned that he had died shortly after being interviewed by Diane Thompson of KNX Newsradio.

“Despite what the newsroom folks say, I didn’t kill him. He was alive when I left,” Thompson softly jokes.

Ken Charles KNX program director says that although he’s happy for Thompson, it’s bittersweet, as he knows how much listeners will miss her.

“I am happy for Diane as she begins this new phase in her life. After 34 years with KNX I know our team, our listeners and this industry will miss her enthusiasm, grace, and talent,” Charles says.  

“In the 12 years Diane has anchored and produced the KNX Heroes feature, she has told the amazing stories of over 500 people. Her commitment to telling these special stories has made a real difference in our community. For that work and the many things she has done over her remarkable career she will be sincerely missed.”

Talking about her retirement, Thompson says that it may sound corny, but she gives much of the credit to her career successes to her husband Chris Taylor.

"He's been my biggest cheerleader and the person I can always count on for really good advice about the business of radio." 

Mayor Eric Garcetti offered his words of personal tribute to Thompson at a luncheon recently honoring the KNX Heroes of 2018.

Quoting Maya Angelou, Garcetti said, "People will never forget what you did, or what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel. And by that measure, Diane Thompson is unforgettable. I'm so grateful to have heard your voice. So, I encourage you to raise your glass to an angel in the city full of angels, and I want to say congratulations to you, Diane on your retirement."