Ken Hatch, one of the most influential leaders in KIRO's broadcasting history who became a senior vice president of the station's former parent company, died Tuesday. He was 82.
Friends who shared news of his death did not give a cause. His wife of 22 years, Cathi Hatch, was by his side, the Puget Sound Business Journal reported.
Hatch graduated from the University of Utah with a degree in business and finance and started in television at KSL in Salt Lake City. Hatch came to KIRO in 1964 when the station was purchased by Bonneville International.
He became a KIRO station manager in 1971 and president and CEO of KIRO in 1980 after former president Lloyd Cooney left for a U.S. Senate run.
In 1969, Hatch and Cooney launched KIRO 7's Eyewitness News.
Hatch, who also completed a management course at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, led the station in the early 1980s when KIRO TV and Radio hit No. 1 in the ratings. He was a KIRO executive when anchor Steve Raible and senior political reporter Essex Porter were hired in 1982.
During Hatch's leadership, KIRO's board of directors included Mary Gates, mother of Bill Gates, and Pay 'n Save chairman M. Lamont Bean.
In the early 1990s, Hatch had a vision he thought would set KIRO apart from the competition.
"He told me that he thought the TV stations in the market . . . just all took turns being number one, two or three in the ratings, and he didn't think there was a whole lot of difference between them," former KIRO Newsradio 710 news director Andy Ludlum told KIRO Radio earlier this year.
"He kinda wanted to shake up that paradigm or whatever by putting on a program that was completely different, and he said he was willing to take all the risks necessary to be innovative," Ludlum said.
Hatch's news vision, Out of the Box, didn't have the same reception it did with test audiences. It may be that it was ahead of its time, and the technology of 1993 may not have been capable of delivering the "news out of the box" vision, local media historian Feliks Banel wrote.
Hatch endured Out of the Box and two controversies in the 1990s: Questions about his handling of a University of Washington football investigation in 1991 and a sexual harassment lawsuit from a KIRO consultant the following year.
A version of the UW story Hatch initially dropped aired later in November 1991.
In 1992, Hatch told The Seattle Times the claims he sexually harassed the consultant were "blatantly untrue." The suit against Hatch and KIRO was settled out of court in 1993 for $160,000, according to a Seattle Times report from that year.
Hatch was named Man of the Year by the Seattle Advertising Federation, and also received awards from the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the Boy Scouts of America and the Brigham Young University School of Business.
When KIRO was owned by Bonneville, Hatch oversaw KIRO TV, and KIRO AM and FM, Third Avenue Productions, which handled sports and video production, KIRO Direct, which was a direct mail ad service, and affiliated radio stations in four other cities.
As a Bonneville senior vice president, Hatch oversaw 20 radio and TV properties. He also worked as president of Bonneville Music Service and Bonneville's Torbet Radio, the Business Journal reported.
"In this new world of communications, television will continue to be one of the leading growth areas in the world," Hatch said in 1995.
After KIRO was sold to Belo that year, Hatch was named Senior Vice President of the Broadcast Division, which also included stations in Texas, California, Virginia, Lousiana and Oklahoma.
"He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience which will be critical to Belo's future success in Seattle-Tacoma and throughout the Northwest," then-Belo Broadcast Division president Ward L. Huey Jr. said when announcing Hatch's promotion.
Hatch retired from broadcasting in February 1996 to become president of The Pacific Institute, a Seattle-based motivational consulting group. He also was CEO of Hatch Enterprises, which provided organizational and communications consulting.
During his career Hatch held several other positions, including work with Olympic National Bank, Northern Life Insurance, and Advanced Biometrics Inc. He also served more than 30 non-profit boards during his career.
He also was given a Daily Point of Light award from President George H.W. Bush, among many other awards in his career.
Hatch, who lived in Clyde Hill, retired from The Pacific Institute at the end of 1997.
Hatch also is survived by four children: Sean Hatch and his partner Troy Clark; Ryan Hatch and wife Teresa; Michael Hatch and wife Alicia; and Elizabeth-Anne Hatch; and his stepson Justin Badger and wife Amy; his stepdaughter Katie Laramore, her husband Kevin and 13 grandchildren, according to the Business Journal.
Services for Hatch have not been announced. The family told the Business Journal that in lieu of flowers, donations could be made the Ken Hatch Memorial Fund at the Tateuchi Center – an Eastside performing arts center he supported – P.O. Box 828, Bellevue, WA, 98009.
"He always helped people be their best selves," Cathi Hatch told the Business Journal. "He inspired people to be more than they ever thought they could be. He unfailingly believed in family and in his children, and he was my biggest fan."
Editor's note: This story has been updated. Hatch started at KIRO 7 in 1964.
Cox Media Group