KSWB VP And GM Ray Schonbak Dies At 70
Ray Schonbak, vice president and general manager of KSWB, the Tribune-owned Fox affiliate in San Diego, Calif., died of cancer on Nov. 20 at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. He was 70 and his broadcasting career spanned five decades.
Born on Jan. 29, 1943, in Pittsburgh, Schonbak served two combat tours in Vietnam as a Green Beret. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh on the G.I. Bill. After deciding against completing law school, he began his career in television broadcasting as an account executive at a local tv station in Portland, Maine.
His varied career included serving with some of the biggest names in broadcast television including General Electric, Metromedia, News Corp., Emmis Communications, Koplar Communications and Tribune Broadcasting among them.
His early accomplishments included sales management at KOA-TV Denver. He served as general sales manager of WRGB Albany, N.Y., a station he later tried to purchase. He was general manager of WTCN Minneapolis-St.Paul and led the team that started KDAF Dallas.
He formed Triad Communications and consulted at numerous stations, even helping to build a cable start-up in England. Later, Schonbak worked in the broadcast acquisitions arena as a broker and buyer of TV stations. His skills were next sought at Benedek Broadcasting where he was group vice president.
He went on to lead stations for Koplar Communications in St. Louis and, served as chief operating officer of Emmis Communications, leading its then-16 Fox affiliates, including its WVUE New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, where he worked alongside staff keeping the station on the air and providing the people of New Orleans with vital information.
He joined KSWB in 2008 and helped transform it into an award winning, top-performing Fox affilate with a leading local news presence.
He is survived by his wife Deborah.