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Broadcaster Ross McGowan settles into Healdsburg

  • Ross McGowan, veteran TV host from KTVU Channel 2, at his Healdsburg home. (MARK ARONOFF/ PD)

Hes usually the man who asks the questions. But Bay Area TV host and interviewer Ross McGowan remembers one time when the tables were turned and he was speechless.

I had this woman come up to me once just out of the clear blue sky, he said. I was walking down the street in San Francisco. She stopped me and said, Ross McGowan? Have you ever had to work hard for anything?

The truth is, the imperturbable broadcaster worked hard for decades to make it all look so easy. Even when confronted with a question that might have ignited hotter heads, he politely held his tongue.

Now, after 40 years cajoling confessions from celebrities and candor from politicians, McGowan has stepped away from the microphone, retreating to his Healdsburg home to play tennis and golf, learn photography and sleep in. October 2 was his last day.

Since 1993 hes been getting out of bed at 2:00 in the morning to be on set and prepared to host KTVUs Mornings on Two. That means that during the week he has to be in bed by 7:30 or 8 p.m.

And yet McGowan is slow to complain or sound ungrateful for a career that has kept him employed in his native Bay Area since the 1970s, first for 14 years as the affable and boyish straight man to the ebullient Ann Fraser on KPIXs old People Are Talking and later stepping into the role of elder statesman on Mornings on Two.

Ill dabble with broadcasting a bit. I just dont want to work full-time anymore...although Im sure lucky to have a job, he said on a recent afternoon, stretching out his long legs on the porch of his home on Fitch Mountain, two dogs at his feet.

Of all the people who wish they had a job, and I just dont want to get up too early, he adds apologetically. But after 17 years Im tired of it.

At 66, no one would begrudge a man his retirement, but McGowan insisted that when station management put out the press release about his pending departure, there would be no mention of the R word.

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