CPB Office of the Ombudsman

R.I.P. Raul Ramirez

Joel Kaplan

November 19, 2013

Raul Ramirez, the longtime executive director of news and public affairs at KQED public radio in San Francisco, has died at the age of 67 of esophageal cancer.

I met Mr. Ramirez exactly one year ago when both of us were part of a visiting team assigned by the Accrediting Council of Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication (ACEJMC) to assess the Penn State College of Communications.

It was, of course, an interesting time to visit State College. The Jerry Sandusky scandal had overwhelmed the campus though the journalism students at Penn State had acquitted themselves quite well in their coverage of the ongoing saga.

All exit interviews for accrediting team visits are with the university's president. In our case, it was with Rodney A. Erickson, the former provost who had assumed the presidency following the firing of Graham Spanier.

Dr. Erickson appeared weary at that meeting though obviously pleased that his College of Communication had scored so highly on its accreditation standards. Still, Mr. Ramirez was tenacious in questioning Dr. Erickson on his stewardship of the university, the role of journalism and the types of transparency necessary for Penn State to move forward.

But what struck me most was Mr. Ramirez' quiet professionalism and unique understanding of the various aspects of investigative journalism and broadcasting, particularly public broadcasting.

The Cuban-born Mr. Ramirez had a lengthy print career before joining KQED in 1991 as its news director. He worked at the San Francisco Examiner, the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the Oakland Tribune.

He also served as a part-time educator, teaching journalism at the University of California at Berkeley and San Francisco State University. Mr. Ramirez was one of 15 members of ACEJMC's Accrediting Committee. Shortly after discovering he had cancer last summer, Mr. Ramirez donated $25,000 to create the Raul Ramirez Diversity in Journalism Fund at San Francisco State.

Mr. Ramirez will be missed. KQED and public broadcasting has lost a true champion.

About CPB

CPB promotes the growth and development of public media in communities throughout America.

Programs & Projects

CPB awards grants to stations and independent producers to create programs and services.