Kaity Tong returns to prime-time

Updated: 2016-01-14 06:57

By HONG XIAO(chinadaily.com.cn)

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Chinese-American news anchor Kaity Tong has returned to weekday prime-time television, co-anchoring a new 6:30-7 pm newscast on WPIX 11 with Brenda Blackmon.

"We are thrilled to pair New York news icons Brenda and Kaity at the anchor desk of WPIX 11’s newest newscast," said Rich Graziano, president of WPIX 11, in an announcement. “With such a rich history in the market, Brenda and Kaity will be a powerhouse anchor duo at 6:30pm, the only local news in New York."

Joining WPIX 11 in 1992, Tong co-anchored the station’s 10 pm newscast through 2010 and weekend broadcasts after that, becoming one of the most respected and popular local news anchors in the New York market.

Born in 1947 in Qingdao, Shandong province, Tong arrived in the US with her family at the age of four and settled in Washington, DC.

Tong began her broadcasting career while working on her doctorate in Chinese and Japanese literature at Stanford in the 1970s. She worked as morning editor and producer for KCBS All-News Radio in San Francisco, the top all-news station in the Bay Area at the time.

Tong was inspired to become a journalist by her great-uncle Hollington K. Tong, an ambassador to the US from China as well as an acclaimed author, and her mother, a 76th-generation descendant of Confucius, who worked for the Voice of America as a broadcaster and producer in Washington.

"I attribute much of my success to my parents, who were very strict about doing well in school, emphasizing studies before play," Tong said.

"I especially thank my mother who showed me how to be strong, and determined, even when the going was tough. She taught me to be a survivor and to never give up," Tong added.

In 1991, Tong was fired from WABC-TV Channel 7, where she had been working as co-anchor since 1981.

The firing caused considerable outrage among the Asian community as rumors spread that Tong's Chinese-American background and her age, which was over 40 at that time, were the reasons she was let go. Tong said she was so grateful for those Chinese who were so supportive of her.

"I want to take this chance to let them know that was truly a turning point in my life to have that kind of support from my people, the Chinese people, that I just won’t ever forget it," Tong said.

As a model of success of a Chinese person making it in the American mainstream market, Tong received a Distinguished Woman award from the Chinese-American Planning Council and Champion of Excellence Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans.

Talking about her new broadcast, Tong said, "Brenda Blackmon and I are two women of color — she is African American and I'm Chinese American — and two women of a certain age — we are not 28," she added with a laugh.

Because of the revolution in news distribution, Tong joked that her new program is for those who still want to sit in front of the TV and know what’s going on in their communities and their boroughs.