Remembering Andrea Lewis

KPFA, Obituary, Max Pringle Posted: Nov 17, 2009

Editor's note: Andrea Lewis, who worked as a reporter at Pacific News Service (now New America Media) in the mid 90s, passed away recently at age 52. Below is an obituary by Max Pringle of KPFA .

Andrea Lewis, long-time broadcast and print journalist, co-anchor of the KPFA Evening News and host of Pacifica’s Sunday Sedition, died last weekend of an apparent heart attack. She was 52.

Many thousands of radio listeners awoke to the voice of Andrea Lewis as co-host of the Morning Show and more recently Sunday Sedition. Her warm, relaxed delivery and knowledge of public affairs, music and the arts earned her a loyal following.

Andrea Lewis was a native of Detroit, Michigan and earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University in 1982, where she studied Music, English Literature, and Art History. She was a 2008 Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. Andrea first made her name in journalism after moving to the Bay Area in 1983. She started her career as an editor for Plexus: West Coast Women’s Press. In the late 1980s, she became a research editor for Mother Jone’s magazine. From there she went on to become an editorial assistant at Harper Collins Publishers in San Francisco in 1991 and two years later became a senior editor at Third Force Magazine. In 1996, Andrea joined Pacific News Service in San Francisco (now New America Media) as an Associate Editor.

She switched effortlessly to radio in 1999, joining the KPFA Morning Show as co-host. Andrea’s friends, colleagues and classmates remember her as a curious, thoughtful journalist with diverse interests.


“Andrea was truly a renaissance woman. She could talk about the politics of the day. She could talk about issues and what was going on not only nationally but also locally what,” says Amelia Gonzalez, KPFA Interim Assistant General Manager.

“But it was also her knowledge of cultural affairs. She was a singer. She sang in the San Francisco Community Chorus and she was an avid golfer. We loved to argue about sports.”

Andrea’s journalism work earned her accolades. The National Federation of Community Broadcasters recognized her with its Golden Reel award in 2002. In 2004, the California Teachers Association presented her with its John Swett Award for Media Excellence. Andrea was a fellow in the Society of Professional Journalists Diversity Leadership Program from 2006-2007. Matthew Rothschild is Editor of the Progressive Magazine in Madison Wisconsin, to which Andrea was a regular contributor. He remembers Andrea as a deft journalist with tools that crossed platforms:

“She could write well. She was gifted and a natural at radio. She did interviews really well. She did cultural profiles really well for the progressive magazine. She did commentaries for the progressive media project that were strongly voiced and in a different style. She was kind of a utility infielder as far as a journalist goes and she’d appreciate that because she was a big sports fan.”

Friends say Andrea was always warm and easygoing, but with a direct straightforward manner when it came to issues close to her heart like race, gender and sexual orientation. They say Andrea would sometimes use everyday discussions about sports and other topics as teachable moments.

“I’m a big college basketball fan. So we were going to do a college basketball pool,” recalls Paul Kavinta, a former Stanford Knight Fellow who befriended Andrea during their time at the University. “Andrea was like ‘yeah I’ll do that, but where’s the women’s pool?’ I was like, oh right, I guess we have to have a women’s basketball pool. That’s a fun example of what Andrea would bring up.”

Other friends from Andrea’s time as a Knight Fellow remember her as being fearless when it came to putting difficult subjects on the table during class discussions.

“She wore her heart on her sleeve and she wore her opinions on her sleeve and what I loved about her was that she would just get in there and ask the hard questions,” says friend and former Stanford Knight Journalism Fellow Ruth Teichroeb. “She would be the one who would say what everyone else was thinking and just bring it out in the open. Sometimes it was uncomfortable, but it didn’t matter because she always told the truth.”

Other friends and colleagues said that although she held strong opinions, she was never strident and was always open to listening to people with opposing views.

Jim Bettinger, Director of the Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford says beyond Andrea’s journalistic achievements, he’ll remember her as someone who was just easy to like: “In my mind she was just a real sweetheart, a good person whom I liked enormously and one whom I’m going to miss enormously.”

And we here at KPFA share that sentiment as does everyone who was privileged enough to count Andrea among their friends. If Thackeray was right and “A good laugh is sunshine in the House,” then all our houses are a little sunnier for having known Andrea.

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User Comments


Marilyn Pittman on Nov 24, 2009 at 15:33:02 said:

Andrea was such a generous, fun, and warm interviewer. She had me on two different times, talking about my stand-up comedy and radio work. As a trainer in public radio, I try to teach people what came naturally to Andrea: warmth, curiousity, personality, heart, and soul. Your community will miss you.


Marilyn Pittman on Nov 24, 2009 at 15:23:51 said:

Andrea was such a generous, fun, and warm interviewer. She had me on two different times, talking about my stand-up comedy and radio work. As a trainer in public radio, I try to teach people what came naturally to Andrea: warmth, curiousity, personality, heart, and soul. Your community will miss you.


Ahmad Wilder on Nov 24, 2009 at 03:07:07 said:

I worked with Andrea at Pacific News Service as a kid she was always full of energy and very funny I will miss her smile and calling me SQUAD that was my nick name to her I am very sad by her loss. She will be missed by many so soon Andrea I wish we could have caught up we will one day see you when I get there REST IN PEACE MY FRIEND.


Kathleen Moore on Nov 20, 2009 at 11:05:23 said:

I will miss Andrea's voice very much. I misssed her when she left the morning show for her stint with the Knight fellowship. Now I won't be able to hear her on Sundays. What a loss. My sympathies to her family and friends.

I am curious if she was diabetic? If any one can share that information I would be most greatfull. It is such a horrible disease and has huge impacts on the heart.


Michelle Turner on Nov 20, 2009 at 05:33:00 said:

Andrea was the person who the Knight Fellowship paired me with last year, when I was going thru the application process. She was thoughtful, enlighting and warm, and I came away from our phone conversation feeling as if I'd just met up with a old, trusted colleague. I am sadded, because i know she will missed by her audience, family and friends. Blessings and Grace Andrea.


carol meers on Nov 18, 2009 at 17:55:44 said:

I loved her velvety voice, her intelligence and her compassion. What a great human being.


Benjamin Borrelli on Nov 18, 2009 at 17:18:17 said:

Her voice was so calming in the morning, I am saddened to hear of her passing. She was a gift to the world, I miss her even though I never met her.


Michael Weil on Nov 18, 2009 at 12:01:39 said:

My life was enriched when I met Andrea while working with her at Mother Jones. Beyond being co-workers, I became her friend. Hers was a unique and valued presence on the planet. And while we drifted apart and didn't really keep in touch, she always had and always will have a place in my heart and soul. Her efforts to make the world a better place were unflagging, her spirit an inspiration, and the time I spent as her friend will always be precious to me. Love to you Andrea. And thanks for being a part of my life.


Michael Weil on Nov 18, 2009 at 11:21:10 said:

My life was enriched when I met Andrea while working with her at Mother Jones. Beyond being co-workers, I became her friend. Hers was a unique and valued presence on the planet. And while we drifted apart and didn't really keep in touch, she always had and always will have a place in my heart and soul. Her efforts to make the world a better place were unflagging, her spirit an inspiration, and the time I spent as her friend will always be precious to me. Love to you Andrea. And thanks for being a part of my life.


Dennis Rowcliffe on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:55:06 said:

Yes, she will be sorely missed in many Bay Area radio receivers and online all over.

The memorial service for Andrea is scheduled for next Tues., Nov. 24th, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, next to the 980 freeway at the corner of Castro and 14th St in Oakland. The sanctuary there just got remodeled (for earthquake safety) and it's almost like it was getting ready for something special...unfortunately it turns out to be this. But other events, too.


MaryAnn Opet on Nov 18, 2009 at 10:33:36 said:

Shocked and saddened, she is gone too soon, a terrible loss for all of us who listened. I will miss her voice, her quick intelligence, her warm and spirited humor, her vital laugh! While I never met her, I loved her and the positive and hopeful energy that she brought to the airwaves. One of many, I am a better person for her presence. Love, kindness and peace to all, and thank you, Andrea, for your time among us!


Matthew Surrence on Nov 18, 2009 at 08:41:24 said:

I didn't know Andrea personally, but I felt like I knew her because of her enormously engaging radio personality that conveyed her sharp intelligence with warmth and humor. I've always remembered one particular interview she did with Michael Eric Dyson, where their bantering gloriously displayed so many of her great qualities. I will miss Andrea tremendously.


Dwayne Eutsey on Nov 18, 2009 at 08:35:08 said:

Andrea\'s intelligence, wit, and good spirit were all something I looked forward to as I tuned into the Morning Show via Internet every morning from the East Coast. Her voice exuded these qualities in my headphones and gave me hope during times when hope was in short supply.

RIP, Andrea.


Susie Bright on Nov 18, 2009 at 08:06:59 said:

I am devastated to hear this. Andrea was so talented and she stuck her neck out ALL THE TIME when most people would just blanch. Beloved. I still think of her when she first came out to California— how can someone who was "forever young" be no longer with us? Please do forward memorial info or how to send a note to her family.


kanchan haynes on Nov 18, 2009 at 06:47:18 said:

Oh Andrea.....The Morning Show was my church for the years you were co-hosting. There may have been bad news but you always found a way to deepen the heart of all of us with your very human delivery. I loved it when Shakti and I came to the studio to be with you. What a warm welcome and of course, the most thoughtful interview, ever. I loved seeing you around town and always being surprised that you remembered me, out of all the other faces you've seen.

Thank you for deepening my love for true journalism, music and self. I miss you, Queen. Thank you for taking up your post in the band of Angels!


kanchan haynes on Nov 18, 2009 at 06:46:05 said:

Oh Andrea.....The Morning Show was my church for the years you were co-hosting. There may have been bad news but you always found a way to deepen the heart of all of us with your very human delivery. I loved it when Shakti and I came to the studio to be with you. What a warm welcome and of course, the most thoughtful interview, ever. I loved seeing you around town and always being surprised that you remembered me, out of all the other faces you've seen.

Thank you for deepening my love for true journalism, music and self. I miss you, Queen. Thank you for taking up your post in the band of Angels!


Rachel Baker on Nov 18, 2009 at 01:55:26 said:

Just a correction/amplification. Andrea sang with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus and made many recordings with the symphony.
She sang as well as she spoke and wrote. It was another outlet for her heart and voice. At breaks in our 7-10:00 PM rehearsals, she was usually preparing for the Morning Show. She was a woman of many talents.


Pat Mullan on Nov 17, 2009 at 20:11:01 said:

I’m among those just not ready to have Andrea Lewis as an ancestor. I’ve been sitting for almost a day with the idea that she’s made that transition, but that fact is not real to me yet.

Andrea Lewis was a strong, smart woman with a big gorgeous voice, and that voice and her strength will ring through the ages. She was generous and volunteered to emcee a community fundraiser to help keep Boadacious Bookstore open, interviewing Jewlle Gomez and Dorothy Allison improvisationally and with great preparedness. She enthusiastically lept at the chance to add to her already overflowing schedule to emcee and interview San Francisco Opera Director Pamela Rosenburg for the Berkeley Public Library audience. For both events, she responded graciously and supportively when I asked her, as the producer, to participate. In both instances, she shared her humor, her thorough grasp of literature and music and the politics surrounding them, including gender politics, and her love of conversation.

In other instances when I talked with her about getting announcments for various shows and events on KPFA’s “The Morning Show,” Andrea Lewis poured that rich voice through my phone line and then helped get the word out to thousands over the radio. For years, my girlfriend and I woke up to her regaling us with the truth on the radio, and although we didn’t really like the theme music or some of the personalities on the show, we always thrived on hearing what Andrea had to say.

She came into town to work on Plexus. She sang. She became more advanced in her journalism via Stanford. She just did a show on the radio a little more than a week ago, plugging, among other events, Krissy Keefer’s Dance Brigade. It’s about the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and runs through this weekend at Laney College. That’s the last thing I heard about from Andrea, and I’m going to Krissy’s show.

I’d like to hear that voice of hers again.
Pat Mullan, Berkeley


topogigio on Nov 17, 2009 at 20:04:14 said:

Andrea
Your 1st program i heard saved my life-
truly blessed Andrea all people who know you who listen to you
WE ARE THE TRULY BLESSED ONES
THANK YOU ANDREA LEWIS THANK YOU KPFA


topogigio on Nov 17, 2009 at 20:03:44 said:

Andrea
Your 1st program i heard saved my life-
truly blessed Andrea all people who know you who listen to you
WE ARE THE TRULY BLESSED ONES
THANK YOU ANDREA LEWIS THANK YOU KPFA


Susan Miller on Nov 17, 2009 at 18:29:29 said:

I am shocked.
I just found about Andrea's death.
I loved listening to her for many reasons.

I can hear her voice right now and realize how very sad this is.

Does anyone know if and where a memorial service will be held.

An avid and deeply appreciated listener.


Terry Tempest Williams on Nov 17, 2009 at 14:54:41 said:

Andrea was singular. I really loved her. Whenever we did
an interview on KPFA, it felt like a private conversation.
She was more than committed to social change, she embodied it -- and her heart was always broken open with her smart and empathetic perceptions. She knew pain and she exposed it when justice failed others. It is so hard to comprehend that her largeness of spirit is no longer physically with us. Her soulful presence remains. My deepest bows to her beautiful voice that will forever inspire.

With love,
Terry Tempest Williams


Matt Martin on Nov 17, 2009 at 11:07:46 said:

What made Andrea such a wonderul presence came across in her voice, whether in person or on the air: warmth, strength, curiosity, and friendly skepticism.

Andrea, we'll miss you.

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