Raj Mathai: LAHS grad shares secrets to TV success in LA Rotary Club talk

Photo By: Courtesy of Jerry Tomanek
Photo Courtesy Of Jerry Tomanek

Los Altos Rotarian Richard Henning, left, and this year’s Rotary president, Jack Kelly, flank Raj Mathai, Los Altos High School graduate and award-winning sports and news television broadcaster. Mathai appeared at a club meeting earlier this month.

Raj Mathai, NBC Bay Area news anchor and sports contributor, shared the secrets to his career success with members of the Rotary Club of Los Altos April 11.

Mathai’s family relocated to the Peninsula from India when he was 7 years old. He graduated from Los Altos High School in 1989 and by 1995 had become America’s first Indian sports broadcaster.

His first television job was a disaster, he recalled, as he suddenly realized, on air, that he was still chewing gum. He remedied the situation by forcefully spitting it out to the side – also on air. From that low point, he joked, his career “could only go upwards.”

Since his debut as a broadcaster, his on-air success has been notable – and consistent. In contrast to the average sportscaster’s typical four- to seven-year stint at a single station, he has worked at NBC for more than 15 years.

Mathai quickly advanced from sports director to news anchor, noting that his main interest is writing.

Today he’s a three-time Emmy Award winner and a member of the San Francisco Giants broadcasting team.

He praised the journalism training he received from Galen Rosenberg at Los Altos High as essential to his success.

“Some of the lessons I learned at Los Altos High, I apply daily on the air,” Mathai said.

According to Mathai, he writes approximately 20 stories for each broadcast.

“Although 99 percent of the TV stations have eliminated their investigative journalists,” he said, “NBC TV … still has a team of 14.”

Among Mathai’s favorite stories to cover are the Olympic Games.

“The human interest stories are phenomenal when you get all these cultures together,” he said.

When Mathai transitioned from covering sports to news, he made the move on the condition that he could still report on the Olympics and his favorite team, the Giants.

Marlene Cowan is a member of the Rotary Club of Los Altos.

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