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Murray Journal

Tammy Kikuchi’s path from newscaster to Asian-American role model to Murray City Hall

Jul 01, 2022 09:26AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

For many, her voice was a trusted news source, and for others, an example in their community, but now Tammy Kikuchi serves her hometown. In January, the former KSL news reporter became Murray City’s Chief Communications Officer when Brett Hales was sworn into the Mayor’s Office.

Kikuchi was known to thousands of radio listeners as one of KSL radio’s legendary lineup of news reporters in the 1980 and ’90s. She shared the airwaves with Jane Clayson, Craig Bolerjack and Amanda Dickson.

“In my junior year at the University of Utah, I was lucky enough to get an internship with KSL Radio, working under Doug Miller of KSL Outdoors fame,” Kikuchi said. “After the internship, I was offered a full-time reporting position while continuing to finish school full-time. It was a busy time. Eventually, I was given the overnight weekend anchor job and reported three days a week. The flip-flop from overnights to days every week was tough. Eventually, I got a daytime position working from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.”

Communication is in Kikuchi’s blood as she has not only been on-air or a public information officer, but her family, as well, were broadcasters.

“My father used to work at a radio station; I think it was KMUR in Murray. This was a long time ago, and he spun hits from the Big Band era. He had a great set of ‘pipes,’ a deep voice that was perfect for radio. I inherited his deep voice and was often told that I should work in media, which led to my major in journalism and communications at the University of Utah,” Kikuchi said.

KSL switched her over to television during her stint on radio, and listeners became viewers. Kikuchi’s face became associated with the voice.

“At that time, KSL was trying some new things and asked the radio reporters to also work as TV reporters. That was fun and challenging but meant that the days often started at 6 a.m. but did not wrap up until 11 p.m. When another job fell in my lap, I knew it was time to change careers,” Kikuchi said.

While at KSL, Kikuchi was something of a rarity, a person of Asian descent broadcasting the local news. Nationally, at the time, there some Asians, such as Connie Chung and Tritia Toyota, that television viewers were familiar with, but in Utah, Kikuchi was a first.

“I think I was the first Asian face on local television news,” Kikuchi said. “For the first 10 years at KSL, I was on the radio, and no one knew my ‘TV face.’ I could work and anonymously move about the community, which was great because I’m a pretty private person. But with TV, things changed. I knew people were mumbling behind my back when they recognized me, which isn’t surprising since, as a whole, there weren’t many Asians in Utah. This was uncomfortable frankly because I liked going to the grocery store in flip-flops, shorts and a T-shirt.”

After putting in enough 18-hour days, Kikuchi transitioned to a public information officer. She held stints from Gov. Jon Huntsman’s spokeswoman to large government agencies such as the State of Utah Tax Commission, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Health and West Valley City.

“Public relations and marketing are often referred to as ‘the dark side’ by journalists. But it’s also a sort of natural transition for journalists to make. When a marketing position dropped in my lap, I jumped, and for almost 30 years, I have worked as a marketing professional or government public information officer. I do miss the news business whenever there are big breaking stories or during elections. The teamwork that has to happen at those times is exhilarating. But I do like having a schedule that is more normal,” Kikuchi said.

So how did Murray City end up with an accomplished and practiced public information officer?

“Honestly, this opportunity fell into my lap. Those are usually the best things in my life. I met Brett and his wife, Cindy, when he was campaigning. He was bringing over a lawn sign. We talked for quite a while, and there was an instant comfort level and familiarity. We spoke a few more times before and, after he was elected, I was thrilled when he offered me the position,” Kikuchi said.

Kikuchi has finally come full circle. She grew up in Murray, attended Murray schools, bought a home in the city and served as a voice for her hometown.

“I have wanted to work for Murray City forever,” Kikuchi said. “It’s ironic that I’m back in Murray. It used to be that when I lived in Salt Lake City and ran into classmates who still lived in Murray, I would think to myself, ‘get a life.’ But here I am.”