More Than Just A Pretty (Asian American) Face

November 26, 2007


Many of us in Southern California grew up watching doll-faced Tritia Toyota anchoring the local news at KNBC and KCBS. She retired sans face-lift or botox in 20001999. Her name came up again just before Thanksgiving in a story recalling the tragic life of L.A. newscaster John Schubeck, who drank himself to death 10 years ago.

By the time Schubeck’s life had begun circling the drain, fellow TV journalists, friends and family turned their backs on him. When the end finally came in 1997, Schubeck, who in his prime reportedly commanded seven-figure salaries from L.A.’s three network owned-and-operated TV stations, was living in his car in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. ERS News (via LAVoice) remembered Schubeck here. (Editor’s note: ERS misspells Toyota’s first name as “Tricia.”)

The Asian American kicker and possibly the moral of this story is that in a city with numerous high-profile newscasters who knew and worked alongside Schubeck only Tritia Toyota really stepped up, making the arrangements and paying for her co-anchor’s funeral services and burial.

The L.A. news market is a cut-throat environment full of high-paid prima donnas and legendary egos. Click here for a bitter off-camera exchange between then-KABC co-anchors Ann Martin and Paul Moyer.

You don’t hear much about Toyota anymore. She adroitly avoids the spotlight. But for those of you who wonder, after leaving the news biz, Toyota, now 61, earned a Ph.D. in anthropology at UCLA where she is a featured lecturer in anthropology, Asian American Studies and the media. She is also a force in alumni affairs and an advocate for human rights and Asian Pacific American causes. Toyota is married to politically influential Riviera Country Club CEO Michael R. Yamaki and lives in Brentwood.

Often dismissed as Asian eye candy although she had evolved into arguably one the market’s best non-scripted on-air talents, Toyota once rued that many of her fellow anchors refused to recognize her as an equal. Turns out the Portland-born Japanese American stood head and shoulders above her colleagues all along.

  • Know Your Local Asian Newscasters, Losanjealous, dated but bordering on bad taste.
  • Reporter “Tricia Takanawa” profiled here, here and waaay over here.

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