I met Kathi Goertzen only once, in 2004. Bill Clinton was on a book tour to promote his memoir, My Life. For some reason, one of the stops on the tour was the Costco in Issaquah. My morning show partner at the time, Mike West, and I, managed to scam some press credentials, drove east, and after a thorough patdown by the Secret Service, we found ourselves in a press area in the store, facing the table where Clinton would be signing his book.The store was locked down, and we were required to stay in this 10 by 20 foot pen for maybe two hours with our fellow journalists before Clinton showed up. No wandering, no bathroom breaks.
Among the reporters under temporary house arrest in the pen was Kathi Goertzen. Of course we knew her as the iconic TV news anchor, and we were a little intimidated to be there with her, especially since we were obviously not actual journalists. She was beautiful -- much softer and, I don't know . . . younger-looking than she appeared on TV, and somehow more accessible and human. We all introduced ourselves to one another, since we knew we'd be standing there awhile. Kathi turned out to be charming, funny, warm, humble, and even a little bit goofy. She'd probably stood around waiting for a story a million times in her career, and she knew how to kill time -- by chatting with her fellow media people, poking gentle fun at the overblown tone of the event, and generally not taking anything too seriously, including herself. She seemed genuinely flattered that we even knew who she was! We felt as if we'd made a new friend.
Yesterday I watched her colleagues at KOMO hold back tears as they talked about her compassion, her sense of humor, her humanity .... And I said to myself "Yes! Exactly! That's the Kathi I knew!" and I barely knew her. I didn't know her like Dan Lewis and Steve Pool and Eric Johnson knew her. But I knew what they were talking about, even after spending just a couple of hours with Kathi at a silly book signing in a Costco.
There are a lot of gasbags and ass clowns in broadcasting -- a lot of egos, a lot of people taking themselves way too seriously, a lot of self-important buffoons. Kathi, from what I could tell, was the complete opposite of all that. The fact that she had to confront this random and completely unfair turn of events, and chose to be open about it with her viewers, to show her distorted face on TV, to take us along with her on this frightening journey .... that was very brave, and very generous.