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Broadcast Pioneers

Leo Chen
Owner, Producer, Interviewer, and Newscaster,
Am-Asia, TV (San Francisco), 1973

     Leo Chen has been designated by the news media as the "Father of Chinese Television" in America. He was born in Beijing in 1919 and came to the United States in 1948. Before his employment as a Chinese professor at San Francisco State University in 1961, Leo taught at the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California.

     In the early 1970s, Leo Chen gathered all his personal resources and had his wife sell her land in order to produce and sustain San Francisco's First Chinese language television program, the Am-Asia Television Station (Meiya dianshitai). It began on Channel 20 from one hour a week on Sunday at 10:00 p.m. to three hours a week on Sundays. Leo was the owner, producer, interviewer, and news broadcaster.

     Leo Chen's primary goal was to use television as a vehicle to teach the Chinese language. When it aired, Am-Asia received many letters from viewers who cried because they were so happy to see a Chinese program on television. In 1985, Leo became the first Chinese American granted a license to do television programming. After a series of changes from Channel 20 to 26, Am-Asia ended up on Channel 38 under Rainbow (Caixia) TV. Leo closed shop in 1996 due to health reasons.

     At present, Leo Chen is working on a multilingual version of Xiyouji (Monkey King) for children.He is enjoying life in San Francisco with his wife, Helena, and their three children and six grandchildren.

 

Christopher Chow
Reporter-Producer, KPIX-TV (San Francisco), 1970

     Born in San Francisco and raised in Chinatown, Christopher Chow is noted as the first Chinese American hired, awarded, and fired as a television news reporter in San Francisco (KPIX-TV, 1970). He is the first Asian American reporter to win an Emmy Award for best documentary Pastures of Plenty in northern California, and the first Asian American to win an Associated Press Award for television investigative reporting (Under Their Ancestors Shadows, 1971), and one of the first Asians to share a DuPont-Columbia Award in broadcast (28 Tonight, KCET Los Angeles). Chris was also one of the first Asian American public information coordinators for the U.S. Census and the first media coordinator of the Asian Pacific Caucus (1984 Democratic National Convention). When he left the media to work in the community, he became a media consultant and youth worker for such groups as Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Korean Community Service Center. His hobby is documenting community history with the Asian American Media Center. He co-produced/directed such films as Fall of the I Hotel, Lest We Forget-Highlights of Korean American Oral History, and Proceedings of the Civil Liberties Education Fund Conference. He produced the first national Asian American Writers Conference, and taught at San Francisco State. Chow now edits an Organization of Chinese America's newsletter and works for the Commission on the Environment.

 

Sam Chu Lin
Reporter-Anchor, KOOL-TV (Phoenix), 1968

     Sam Chu Lin is a reporter/news anchor/radio announcer who found that "informing and helping others is what makes journalism exciting."  As one of the first Asian American network reporters in New York City (CBS News), he announced to the nation the fall of Saigon and helped Superman's creators win their pensions. He's interviewed presidents and world leaders and covered earthquakes and other major disaster. In China, he went on the air to report the government crackdown on the democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square. He feels journalism can also be educational. "It's a chance to use your roots for a positive purpose." Sam recently convinced ABC's Nightline to do a program called "Asian American - When Your Neighbor Looks Like the Enemy" and helped book the guest, checked the script for accuracy, and found historical footage for the broadcast. He spent over a year talking with the executive producer about how Asian Americans have been unfairly stereotyped because of the campaign fundraising and spy scandals. The program was the highest rated show in its time slot beating out Jay Leno and David Letterman in the national ratings. He has been presented with many awards including the AP, UPI, Golden Mike, National Headliner Award for Best Documentary, Chi Lin is an Old American Name, and the 1998 Los Angeles Press Club Award for covering a neighborhood shoot-out. Based in Sunnyvale with his wife Judy, and their sons Mark and Christopher, he also pioneered in Silicon Valley, establishing the television news department for Hewlett-Packard. Sam is a media consultant, contributor to AsianWeek, Rafu Shimpo, San Francisco Examiner, and reports for KTTV Fox 11 News in Los Angeles.

 

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