Gone Fishing


Story and Photo By Dave Good

(Published in the May 2010 issue)

It’s a safe bet that when NBC 7/39 evening news anchor Marty Levin retires at the end of May, he’ll be breaking out the tackle box.

“I love to fish,” he says. “One thing I’ve done consistently my whole life is fishing, ever since I was five or six years old.”

Levin still has the same fly rod he received as a gift when he graduated from high school in his hometown of Bar Harbor, Maine. And he still uses it when fishing in the San Diego surf, but his favorite spot is on the Green River.

“It flows down into Utah where we fish it,” he says. “There are more fish per mile there than anywhere. It’s all catch-and-release, which is fine by me because I don’t keep them anyway. I’m always good to the fish.”

Back on dry land, Levin has been with KNSD for just over 22 years and has won more than a dozen Emmy Awards and three Golden Mikes. He and his wife, Gail, live in University City. Their son, J.T., is a University of Missouri journalism school grad.

“It’s worked out better in San Diego than I ever would have imagined.”

Levin’s distinguished career began with a journalism class at the University of Oregon. He says he read news on the campus radio station for a few months, and then landed a gig at a commercial radio station. In the years leading up to his anchoring TV news, he was a Top 40 disc jockey.

In 1977, Levin anchored at KGTV Channel 10 for three years before leaving town for a big-league anchor post in the nation’s capitol. He then returned to San Diego, landing at KFMB Channel 8 news before taking the job at NBC’s KNSD Channel 39.

“I’m one of three people,” he says, “that has worked at all three of the major San Diego stations.”

Phyllis Schwartz, former president and general manager of NBC 7/39, remembers

Levin as having the most insightful opinion in the newsroom.

“He was the guy that everybody looked to if there was a problem,” Schwartz says, “whether about the news or something the station was involved in. Even if he wasn’t involved in the decision, the first thing I’d say to the news director was, ‘How do you think this will play with Marty?’ People respected his opinion. He was a good barometer.”

Jim Sanders, now retired, was news director at KNSD in the late 1990s. “I think Marty’s the smartest guy I’ve ever worked with,” he says, “and I’ve worked with a lot of people in 30 years.” Sanders describes Levin as being both complicated and simple, but definitely not the celebrity type.

“I’ve always been kind of private,” Levin says. “I don’t think I’ve ever taken the public role seriously. I’ve never been big on celebrating me.”

Will he miss broadcasting?

“The public part of that? No, I don’t think I’m going to miss it. Maybe I’m fooling myself. I’ll have to wait and see. I’m trying not to be too apprehensive or too over-confident. I’ve never retired before. What do I know?”

Marty Levin’s final day on the air will be May 26. After that, he’ll be reeling in the years in more ways than one.