Don Sanchez celebrates 40 years with ABC7


Don is now our arts and entertainment reporter, but he's a man who can - - and has -- done it all.

From the anchor desk to the red carpet, to wherever the assignment takes him, Don has spent four decades sharing the world with ABC7 News viewers.

Don got his start at KSBY in San Luis Obispo as a fresh faced kid with a big voice. Even back then, Don interviewed celebrities, and like other small town reporters, he did commercials.

After nine years, it was suddenly over.

"One day they fired the entire news department, all five of us," Don said.

Just a few days later, Don landed at KGO-TV.

"They said, Well, we can maybe give you three weeks worth of work,' Don said.

But once Don put on that mandatory Circle Seven sport coat he never looked back.

Don loved the Bay Area -- and the Bay Area loved him. Actor Benjamin Bratt grew up watching Don.

"You are legend, you are certainly legend in my family," Bratt told Don once during an interview.

Don replied, "Want to play me in your next film?"

To which Bratt said, "You know if I could grow that kind of mustache I certainly would."

In the early 70s, Don's trademark mustache almost disappeared for good.

"The news director said, 'We don't have mustaches here, you'll have to cut it off,'" Don said. "Three years later a new news director said, 'We want you to start doing sports, but you look too young, have you ever thought about growing a mustache?'"

Don made a dashing sports anchor and he was willing to take risks. His meeting with a sumo wrestler was so captivating the station ran it slow motion and added music. Don got hurt pretty badly, but that didn't stop him from taking this white water raft trip -- another adventure in terror set to music.

Later Don hosted a live morning show. And for seven years anchored with Cheryl Jennings.

Don and Cheryl worked together during some of the Bay Area's biggest news events. Don's office is packed with mementos of those stories -- good and bad.

When the Loma Prieta earthquake hit in 1989, ABC7 News crews were first on the scene at the hardest hit locations. There was a make shift studio set up in the newsroom and ABC7 News got back on the air with critical information for viewers and non-stop reporting that earned a Peabody Award.

"And that has always been my proudest moment here; not what I did, but what everybody who was working here did,' Don said. "It was extraordinary."

Don eventually became ABC7 News' arts and entertainment reporter.

He's done hundreds of celebrity interviews, been made up like young Frankenstein and even done a cameo on general hospital.

Through it all, Don has remained true to his risk taking roots.

In Scotland he tried sword fighting and he was one of the very first to visit Cars Land at Disney's California Adventure.

Don still races out to cover news stories when needed and every week he does a movie review with a bucket of popcorn to rate the show.

Don, your friends and fans have loved you for 40 years, so we'll give you a really full bucket. And we'll see you on the aisle.

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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