With more than 4,000 interviews with political, business, community and social leaders under his belt, Bill Buckmaster celebrated 20 years on KUAT Channel 6 on Thursday. The anchor and managing editor of "Arizona Illustrated" for two decades has introduced viewers to some of Arizona's most interesting individuals.
With an easy-going on-air demeanor that belies his aggressive news instincts, it is no surprise that Buckmaster is a driving force behind "Arizona Illustrated's" success. Founded in 1980 on an idea that is still novel in these days of headline news and 10-second sound bites, the program has thrived by providing in-depth reports and thoughtful analysis. "We don't just tell you what happened today," Buckmaster says. "We provide perspective by giving you the whole history of the subject."
"Arizona Illustrated" covers a wide variety of topics, from border issues, health and science to culture and news about The University of Arizona. It is the only television program that provides comprehensive coverage of all the local political races. The "Friday Roundtable" has become the area's premier forum for discussion of political issues, with newsmakers and reporters from the Arizona Daily Star, the Tucson Citizen and the Tucson Weekly participating.
Buckmaster does most of his own research and writing, and generates many of the story ideas for the program. "Our mission here is simple: provide an alternative for Tucson news viewers and never talk down to the audience," he said.
Buckmaster has filled a display case with awards over the years. In 2006, Tucson Lifestyle Magazine named him a "Best of City" award winner. In 2004, Buckmaster was presented with the Alzheimer's Disease Public Awareness Award in recognition of his ongoing contributions toward increasing public awareness of the disease.
Also in 2004, Buckmaster was flabbergasted by the naming of an asteroid in his honor. Astronomer and Parade magazine science editor David Levy, a regular guest on "Arizona Illustrated," surprised him on the air with the announcement.
In 2003, the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences inducted Buckmaster into its prestigious Silver Circle Society in honor of his lifetime achievements in the television industry. To be selected, individuals must have served in broadcasting for more than 25 years and made major contributions to the industry. Buckmaster has received five Emmy nominations.
Buckmaster's news career spans nearly four decades. It includes positions as broadcast editor for The Associated Press in Phoenix; radio news director positions in Sierra Vista, Visalia, Calif., and Las Vegas; plus news anchor posts at KTZO-TV, San Francisco, and KICU-TV, San Jose/San Francisco.
"No newscaster is more dedicated to broadcast journalism than Bill, as demonstrated by the meticulous research that shows so clearly in his interviews and by his longevity. To many in our community, he represents the face of KUAT. He is truly a Southern Arizona icon," said Jack Gibson, KUAT general manager.
Buckmaster earned a bachelor’s degree in speech from the UA and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Avid art and book collectors, Buckmaster and his wife, Ann, love to travel. They have visited more than 70 countries and 48 states (Wyoming and Delaware are up next). Buckmaster is also an award-winning amateur photographer.
Arizona Illustrated airs weeknights at 6:30 p.m. and repeats at 12:30 a.m. on KUAT Channel 6.