July 23, 1947 |
|Education||Bryn Mawr College (B.A., English literature)
Stanford University (M.A., Chinese and Japanese studies)
|Occupation||American television journalist/news anchor|
|Spouse(s)||Robert Long (divorced), 1 child
Patrick Callahan (present)
|Family||George and Anita Tong (parents)|
Kaity (pronounced "kite-ee") She was born in Qingdao, China and arrived in the United States with her family at age four. Her parents Americanized their names to George and Anita Tong. Growing up in Washington D.C., she was inspired to become a journalist by her great-uncle, Hollington K. Tong, an ambassador to the US from China as well as an acclaimed author. Her mother worked for the Voice of America as a broadcaster and producer in Washington D.C.
Kaity attended Bryn Mawr College on an academic scholarship. She graduated with honors with a bachelor of arts degree in English literature. She was accepted to the doctoral program of Stanford University in Chinese and Japanese literature, and she intended to be an instructor in English literature. However, while at Stanford, Tong began her broadcasting career, getting what she thought would be a summer job as morning editor and producer for KPIX-TV All-News Radio in San Francisco. The summer job turned into a year-long stint at the radio station which was the top all-news station in San Francisco. Tong managed to complete her masters degree in Asian studies but was sidetracked by the news business.
Tong's television career began as a reporter for KPIX-TV in San Francisco, where she worked from 1976 to 1979. Originally hired as a writer for the station, Tong was asked to do an on-air test and was immediately promoted to a street reporter, where her first on-air story was a report on the new carts that transported people around the airport. In December 1979, she became co-anchor of the 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts on KCRA-TV in Sacramento, California where she soon became number one-rated out of all the television news personalities in Sacramento.
Referring to the difficulties of having a family and career, she said at the time: "Anchoring is fun. At one time I wanted to be a network reporter, but now I think that is too difficult a life. One of these days I want to have a baby." In 1981, she moved to WABC-TV in New York City. Within two years, she became co-anchor of the station's 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts, first with co-host Tom Snyder from 1983 to 1984 and with Ernie Anastos until 1986.
She moved to the 6 p.m. newscast, rotating the anchor chair with John Johnson alongside Bill Beutel after Roger Grimsby was fired in 1986, while still co-anchoring the 11 p.m. Eyewitness News with Anastos until he left for WCBS in 1989. Eventually her sole anchor role was the 11 p.m. news, as Beutel became solo anchor of the 6 p.m. broadcast. The two continued as the anchor team for the 11 p.m. newscast. In 1984, she appeared as herself, reporting on the defection of the Soviet circus performer played by Robin Williams in feature film Moscow on the Hudson. She has also played a newscaster in Wolf, Spider-Man, Lost Souls, City Hall, Marci X, Night Falls on Manhattan, and 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate.
Her firing from WABC-TV in 1991 caused considerable outrage, especially since she was replaced by Susan Roesgen, who came from a small Midwestern station and who never adjusted to New York, lasting only a year on WABC-TV. A "Coalition of Asian-American New Yorkers" suggested that Tong's Chinese-American background was the reason. Other supporters of Tong cited her age, which was over 40 at the time, as a main reason for her firing. Others speculated further. Station management stated that Tong was released due to her high salary which was $750,000 per year at the time (the equivalent to $1,193,281 in 2010. Capital Cities/ABC chairman Thomas Murphy said it was "strictly a business decision."
According to Tong, her direct boss Channel 7 Vice President and General Manager Walter Liss acknowledged that Tong's newscast at 11p.m. had the highest ranking in that time slot, but he wanted "...a much bigger No. 1", and had a vision of what the ideal look of how television should be in the 1990s. Tong declined to repeat specifically what Liss's vision was, other than to say, "I am trying hard to take the high road in all of this."
In early 1992, Tong joined WPIX as the station's top female anchor and has been there ever since. She co-anchored the station's 10 p.m. newscast with Marvin Scott from January 1992 to September 1992, with Jack Cafferty from September 1992 to October 1998, and with Jim Watkins from October 1998 to 2010. She is currently weekend anchor for the station. Tong was involved in a 2010 lawsuit by former news director Karen Scott against WPIX for age discrimination when Scott and other veteran broadcast personnel lost their jobs, later testifying in court.
Tong joined Gloria Steinem and Beverly Sills by receiving the Exceptional Achievement Award from The Women’s Project. She was the first woman honored by Rotary International with its Paul Harris Fellowship. She was also honored with a Star award by the New York Women's Agenda. She has been recognized by the Chinese America Arts Council for her excellence in communication. She received a Distinguished Woman award from the Chinese-American Planning Council and a Champion of Excellence Award from the Organization of Chinese Americans. A naturalized citizen, Tong received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for her work.
Tong has a son, Philip Long, from her first marriage to Robert Long, former news director and a vice-president at Los Angeles's KNBC-TV until September 25, 2009. She later married photographer Patrick Callahan.
- Cf. IMDB entry: Kaity Tong at the Internet Movie Database
- Diamond, Edwin. "New-Girl Network: Anchors get Younger and Blonder", New York Magazine, June 10, 1991, p. 20.
- Some discrepancy in the age reported. Huff reports that she was 59 years old in 2010. Cf. Huff, Richard, "TV reporters reluctant to reveal age, fearful that experience could be used against them", New York Daily News, Friday, June 25, 2010
- "Broadcast veteran to run news operations at KNBC", Los Angeles Business Journal, August 4, 2003.
- Tong, Kaity. "What's in a name?", WPIX Blog, March 4, 2009.
- Newton, Kathie. "Women: The new TV set Stars share a mystical 'something'", The Modesto Bee, March 25, 1980, p. A7.
- "Kaity Tong's Bank Problem", New York Magazine, February 21, 1983.
- West, Gary. Entry, Mr. Pop Culture, April 24, 1986
- American Institute for Economic Research Cost of living Calculator
- Diamond, Edwin. "New-Girl Network: Anchors get Younger and Blonder", New York Magazine, June 10, 1991, p. 21.
- Tong, Kaity. "It's Our Anniversary! Jim and I celebrate 11 Years of Bliss...", KPIX Blog, July 21, 2009.
- "KNBC News Director Bob Long Retires", NBC Los Angeles.com, September 26, 2009.
- Huff, Richard. "After A Drop From The Top, Tong Feels Anchored", New York Daily News, June 24, 1997.