NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
KING 5’s beloved anchor of 36 years, Lori Matsukawa, is retiring. She will sign off on June 14 and KING 5 will air a one-hour special on that day, sharing memories, photos, videos, and stories about Matsukawa.
“What a pleasure it’s been to work at KING 5—a legacy station,” Matsukawa said when asked to sum up her career. “I always tell people the best part of being a television journalist is being able to tell the stories of the people who call the Northwest home.”
“I am so sad to see Lori leave the industry. She was one of the first people I met when I arrived at KING 5 nearly 30 years ago,” said Mona Locke, Washington’s former first lady and former KING 5 reporter.
Locke called Matsukawa “an icon, a champion of Asian American causes, and a model of cool, calm, and collected when on-air and under pressure. Lori has been an amazing role model who has paved the way for so many Asian American journalists.”
“Lori Matsukawa is a shining star in the Asian community,” Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, said. “Very few mainstream Asian American journalists are as connected to our community as she is.
She has supported many Asian organizations, including being board chair of Asian Counseling Referral Service and Japanese Cultural Community Center. She is the ‘emcee queen’ in our community.”
Matsukawa was first hired at KING 5 in 1983.
“What an honor it has been to write the ‘first draft of history,’” she said. “Whether it was the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the attainment of redress by Japanese Americans unlawfully incarcerated during WWII, or the inspiring achievements of a diverse group of public servants like Gary Locke, Norman and Constance Rice, Ana Mari Cauce, Ron Sims, Martha Choe, Mary Yu, Steve Gonzales, and Claudia Kauffman.”
“When I graduated from college, I told everyone I wanted a job where I’d learn something new every day. I found it here at KING 5… It’s been a heck of a ride!”
Matsukawa, along with Frank Abe and Ron Chew, founded the Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) in 1985.
Chew said, “Without Lori, there would be no AAJA chapter in Seattle. It was her thoughtfulness, cheery attitude, and steady leadership that laid the foundation. She made sure to leave a place at the table for both mainstream journalists, as well as community journalists like myself. I remember with great fondness our little planning meetings we had at the ice cream shop, which is now Mike’s Noodle House. So many memories! She leaves behind a huge legacy as a role model and leader.”
Matsukawa was a big supporter of the younger generation and she hosted the Asian Weekly Foundation’s summer youth leadership camp for over a decade.
“Students who met her for the first time, were in awe of meeting an Asian American star face-to-face, successful in the mainstream media, and yet being so humble and nice,” said Ng. “As the first Asian American female news anchor in Seattle, she inspired many to pursue journalism. Her retirement is KING 5’s loss, but I hope it’s our community’s gain. With more time, we hope to see her more in the community.”
Matsukawa is the recipient of numerous awards, including the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Asian American Journalists Association (2005), induction to the University of Washington Communication Department’s “Alumni Hall of Fame” (2012), the NATAS Northwest “Silver Circle Award” for lifetime achievement (2014), and a regional Emmy Award in 2018 for her series “Prisoners in Their Own Land” about Japanese American wartime incarceration.
She also contributed to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Washington, the Seattle Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association (which she helped co-found in 1983), Mary’s Place, and El Centro de la Raza.
KING 5 didn’t have to look far to find a successor. Beginning June 17, KING 5 morning anchor Joyce Taylor will step into the evening anchor role.