Find Posts By Topic

Known for his heart & humor, Randy Eng recognized for 34 years of video storytelling

Meet one of the Seattle Channel’s most endearing staff members—Randy Eng. The video specialist’s infectious humor and boundless creativity brighten every room of the station, and we’re proud to share the news that Randy recently became an inductee into the Silver Circle of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Northwest Chapter. With a career spanning over 34 years, his impact on local television is unquestionable. But that’s not all that defines him.

Known for his love of Star Wars, an impressive collection of Simpsons figurines, and an ever-expanding Lego metropolis, he’s also the office gourmand, who celebrates his birthday with a food tour of Seattle restaurants. But don’t be fooled by his playful side, Randy is also a master storyteller. He’s earned 14 Emmys, and his deep community connections and dedication to community service make him a true gem at the Seattle Channel.

Join us as we sit down with Randy to learn more about his personal and professional journey through the television industry.

A short video profile on Randy Eng’s career. Video by Ian Devier

[TYLER] You’ve had a distinguished 34-year career in television journalism. What initially drew you to the field of photojournalism?

[RANDY] I entered the journalism world at the end of my sophomore year while attending the University of Washington. I worked at our student run TV station, Studio K news (named after the Kane Hall studios in the basement). I did it all: writing, editing, shooting video, reporting and eventually executive producing. Concurrently, I also did the morning news at KCMU radio. I really enjoyed radio because I knew I didn’t have to be on camera! As I progressed through my schooling, I realized videography was both the path of least resistance to a job, but also a whole lot of fun. Radio was still in the background, but I really enjoyed being outdoors and meeting people outside of the studios. About three months after graduating, I got my first job at KVAL-TV in Eugene, Oregon. It was there I really learned the trade and really started to grow as a video storyteller.

[TYLER] What was the first story you were proud of?

[RANDY] My first favorite story was a natural-sound package on an event called the “First Annual Jimi Hendrix Guitar Toss” down in Eugene.  Contestants would throw guitars at a cardboard cutout of Jimi Hendrix.  The person closest to the cutout would win a new guitar!  Lucky for me, every contestant was not camera-shy, and enjoyed the silliness of the contest.  The cherry on top was this guy that picked up the busted guitars at the end.  In his words, “Jimi Hendrix would roll over in his grave, if he knew people were throwing guitars… at HIS FACE!”

[TYLER] You first visited KING5 as a teenager in the late ‘70s only to get a job there less than a decade later, was it a dream destination?

[RANDY] KING-TV was always a dream destination. They had the reputation for both excellence in journalism, as well as being one of the best videography staffs in the country. I honestly thought I wasn’t ready to join the KING staff yet. I was only 25 years old!!!! In my head, my career path was supposed to be from Eugene to Portland or Spokane, to San Diego or Sacramento, and then maybe Seattle. I was quite shocked to land a job at KING, but thought I needed to make the most of the opportunity… just in case they changed their minds!

[TYLER] You have broad experiences in various units at KING, including news, investigative, and documentary work. How did working in these diverse areas influence your approach to storytelling?

[RANDY] I was really blessed to work with incredibly talented folks at KING. My first big break was when we launched KING’s first investigative unit with the very talented reporter Duane Pohlman and producer Brad Stone. From them, I learned about the tenacity and thoroughness needed when going after big stories. They were both really good at uncovering important stories. And you’d know it, based on how upset people would get! On one series of reports, we exposed a local pastor who was sexually abusing boys. Even I was getting death threats! And I wasn’t even on camera! Another story involved a local judge’s schizophrenic nephew, who would stand on his roof (naked) and shoot his handgun randomly. The judge warned us to stay away, but we felt it was too much of a safety issue to let slide, so we covered the story anyways. The local police were dispatched to harass us! It was one of the few instances I’ve had a gun pulled on me (by the police no less)!

[TYLER] What did your parents think of you working in your hometown and KING5?

[RANDY] My parents were happy I didn’t go far away! Although my dad wasn’t particularly happy I went into TV. He was a machinist for 42 years at Boeing, working mainly in the wind tunnel, and wanted me to join the aerospace giant. He had a whole ton of tools he wanted to give me! Unfortunately, I hate math, so it was never in my destiny. They were both avid KING-TV watchers and loved telling me about what they saw on the news. More often than not, I would tell them… “Yes, I know! That was my story for the day! I was there!” Unfortunately, that did not stop them from recanting the entire story in detail… again. I didn’t mind. It showed me they cared and that I relayed a story in a way they could understand.

[TYLER] You’ve been at the Seattle Channel now for nearly a decade, how has working at a municipal television station shaped or changed your storytelling?

Seattle Channel General Manager Shannon Gee with Randy Eng on assignment.

[RANDY] I worked at KING-TV for 22 years. I thought I knew all there was to know about Seattle, considering I grew up here. But I was wrong. Working with Seattle Channel General Manager Shannon Gee opened my eyes to how little I knew about Seattle’s diverse communities. There is so much more going on besides Lion Dances and Cinco de Mayo celebrations. There are so many people doing amazing things, I feel like there’s just not enough time to tell all of their stories (but I’m trying)!

[TYLER] You’re very proud of your Asian American heritage, how has your background helped shape your work with those diverse communities you spotlight?

[RANDY] A lot of my stories at the Seattle Channel relate to my upbringing.  My parents were first generation Asian Americans who worked hard, so their kids wouldn’t have to. They faced racism and discrimination their whole lives. My dad, who was Chinese Americans, had to wear a button saying “I’m not a JAP” during the World War II so he wouldn’t get beat up.  They lived in the red-lined neighborhood of Beacon Hill.  I thought it was cool everyone was Asian up there, not realizing they couldn’t buy anywhere else.  My grandfather had a restaurant in Seattle’s Chinatown in the ’30s and ’40s.  He was a community leader and hero of sorts, for helping new immigrants with a job at his restaurant and a place to stay—sometimes their own apartment! Doing the stories I do here feels like I’m making peace with the past my parents had to struggle thorough.  In a way, I’m telling their story too.

[TYLER] We hear you were a mascot once? Tell us about that.

[RANDY] In 1989, I was an intern at KOMO TV4. I mainly worked with Ken Shram in public affairs programming, but also did stuff for their community affairs department. At that time, the Seattle Supersonics had retired their old mascot, the Wheedle, in favor of Squatch. “T. Wheedle” then became the KOMO mascot. One day, the guy who wore the suit got sick and his back up was not available. So, the office decided to “make the intern do it!”

A black and white photo of the KOMO TV 4 mascot called T.Wheedle

For a week, I was the Wheedle! I went to an elementary school and a supermarket. The outfit itself was horrible. It was basically made of shag carpet over chicken wire. It smelled like someone’s old sock. It weighed about 30lbs. The WORST part (if you can imagine it getting worse) was that the head was held in place by a mouthpiece (similar to a snorkel mouthpiece). Yes, I had to use an old, used mouthpiece. Yuck. And of course, what happens when you put something in your mouth? You begin to salivate! I remember my handler yelling at me to breathe out of my mouth because a long, gross string of saliva way leaking out of T. Wheedle’s mouth!!!!!! How horrifying for the kids!!!!!! I still laugh about this whole fiasco… and even made a recent visit to KOMO to see my old smelly friend.

[TYLER] One of the most impactful stories you said you’ve worked on was a profile on photographer Lynette Johnson. Why was the story so impactful and how did it inspire you to volunteer in community service for more than 15 years?

[RANDY] In 2006, I did a story on a photographer Lynette Johnson with reporter Pat McReynolds. Lynette would take pictures of stillborn or infants who were dying. She did this free of charge. She wanted the families to remember their loss in a loving way, as opposed to a traumatic way. Moreover, her reasoning was, as she said in the story, “…always try to give more than you take.” At about the same time, I was going through a very difficult time in my own life. I had to rely on the generosity of so many others, just to put food on my table and pay my bills. I said to myself back then, I want to be the one who gives! So, to this day, I do a lot of volunteer work for non-profits and other community-based groups, to help honor Lynette. I feel like I have no other choice. I may not be able to hand out food at a food bank, but I can make videos that help raise money, so that they can buy the food to hand out! And they need the money more than me. I have a job and am blessed with so much. Give my money to those who need it.

[TYLER] Balancing a demanding career with being a single dad can be challenging. Has your work influenced your role as a father, or being a parent shaped your work?

Randy Eng holds his Silver Circle award while surrounded by his daughter Maia Lourdes, son Kai Pacifico, and Randy’s fiancé Maria Zambrano. Photo by Vivian Hsu

[RANDY] My mom used to say quite a bit: “I hope you have a child just like you!” Depending on the tone, that may sound like a curse, but I always took it differently. As a single parent, it meant working nights, weekend nights, weekend overnights… just so I could be a part of my kid’s life. Those wonky shifts allowed me to: take the kids to school; pick them up from school; be the only dad at a co-op preschool; attend all those parent/teacher conferences; take them to their sports, extra-curricular and club events and help them with their homework. Ultimately, “having kids just like me” meant that I would have to leave the TV news grind, because my kids needed me to be more present during their middle and high school years. It’s what led me to the Seattle Channel! The flexible hours really helped! And I am able to show them what it means to be an active community member! We recently had breakfast at Ludi’s. My kids (Kai Pacifico and Maia Lourdes), were really impressed the owner knew me by name as soon as we walked in. Hopefully I have been able to model some good parenting over the years! Time will tell!

Watch Randy’s acceptance speech during the Silver Circle Ceremony, and follow his work and other Seattle Channel productions on InstagramTikTokFacebookTwitter, and YouTube.