2014 Gold Circle Inductee Bob Newman


I wanted to work in TV because I could communicate. One guy in front of a camera and a microphone could talk to skillions and millions of people. And I thought, “Gee, what a wonderful idea it is, rather than just standing there and talking to you alone.” It's communication. I talk, you listen. You talk, I listen. The secret there is you gotta get your head out of “broadcast” and get it into “receive.” You gotta listen, and that's what most people just don't do. Thank you very much to all you Emmy® people. You're really great. You're the backbone of this industry.

Bob Newman was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, growing up on Mercer Island in the 1930s and 1940s. He attended high school in Seattle and as a young man, joined the Marine Corps and served in Japan in the aftermath of the Korean conflict. Upon leaving the military, Bob enrolled at the University of Washington and studied communications, and broadcast for KUOW and worked for KCTS (both then campus stations).

He went to work for KIRO 7 in the late 1950s, and famously created a role for himself sometime around 1960 when kids’ TV show host JP Patches (Gold Circle honoree, the late Chris Wedes) was in the midst of a pretend phone call with a typically unseen and unheard character—a telephone operator named “Gertrude.” Wedes picked up the prop phone, said, “Hello? Are you there, Gertrude?,” and Newman, who was working off camera (as a grip) answered back in what came to be a trademark falsetto, “Ye-essssss?”

In addition to Gertrude, Bob created many other characters for the show, including Boris S. Wart, Miss Smith, Leroy Frump and Ketchikan the Animal Man.

A character and a legendary team was born, and Wedes and Newman became perhaps the greatest duo to work on local TV in the Pacific Northwest, entertaining hundreds of thousands of viewers while the show was on the air (until 1981).

After leaving KIRO, Bob spent several years at KCTS, doing make-up for pledge drives and other programs. Beyond his TV roles, Bob has encouraged many young people to pursue broadcasting careers, and is one of the kindest guys to ever work in this business.