End of an era: Photojournalist says goodbye after 47 years at KOMO
KOMO photojournalist Stephen Ramaley was used to the workings of the KOMO newsroom well before he began his career here.
His father Howard was the second-ever KOMO photographer, starting here in 1954, a year after KOMO officially went on air.
As a kid, Ramaley was able to go out on assignments with his dad. It's no surprise that he decided to go into the news business himself.
In his 47 years at KOMO and 50 years in the industry, Ramaley has done it all.
"I've walked in the crater of St. Helens, we almost got stranded there overnight it was snowing so hard," he said.
And during the 2001 earthquake, "We were all in the top of the old municipal building as it was wagging around real badly...the reporters got under the table, the mayor was whisked downstairs, every photographer picked up their camera and went to work."
And you might not have known, but during the decades of our popular Christmas-time tradition, "Pool's Parade of Lights," Ramaley was a one-man photography crew.
He spent countless November and December nights after each shift driving out to the region's best decorated homes near and far to make sure they'd be featured on-air, making life-long friends along the way.
Ramaley said of all the amazing stories he's covered, his favorite: good news, and helping people.
"It's amazing what people will let you do...come into their lives, come into their houses and treat you like family right off the bat," he said. "(This job) has made me pretty much sympathetic toward everybody. Everybody has got a story, you learn a lot about people."
When asked if he had ever thought about a different career, Ramaley simply replied that no, he hadn't.
And when asked if he ever imagined being at KOMO for so long, he responded, "I didn't really think about it, I was busy doing journalism."
Ramaley said that his family is loving that he is retiring.
"I have grandchildren now, and another daughter getting married...they are very happy, they've had to share me a lot," he said. "They've been kind of understanding but you have to remember it's hard on families. It's a different kind of job."
After years of the "hustle and bustle" that comes with being a photojournalist, Ramaley said he plans to live a more solitary life after he retires, which includes activities like gardening and reading.
He says what he'll miss most is the family at KOMO, and we will miss him too.
His advice for aspiring photojournalists?
"Be ready. Be dedicated. It's not just a simple, 'come to work every day,'" Ramaley said. "It's a much more difficult job. Put on your mental hard hat because there's going to be people who don't like you, families who had their children die. Be a writer and a photographer. Keep up on everything. It's not one dimensional in any way and it's changing rapidly."
In a time where journalism continues to evolve, and where the future may feel uncertain, Ramaley had one more thing to say.
"There will always be a way to tell a story and a need for that...and if people give up it'll go away. And you won't know what you've got till it's gone."
From all of us at KOMO, we will miss you dearly, Stephen. Congratulations on an incredible career and having a lasting impact on our newsroom. We wish you good luck for whatever retirement brings you!