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Writer, broadcaster Ben Fong-Torres named Alumnus of Year

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May 9, 2003

Photo of Alumnus of the Year Ben Fong-TorresBen Fong-Torres, a Bay Area media personality who has dedicated his life to rock 'n' roll and words, has been named San Francisco State University’s 2003 Alumnus of the Year by the SFSU Alumni Association. Fong-Torres, who earned a bachelor of arts degree in radio-television-film in 1966, will receive the award at the University’s 102nd annual Commencement exercises at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, May 24, in Cox Stadium.

From Ray Charles to Paul McCartney and Elton John to the Grateful Dead, Fong-Torres has interviewed hundreds of world famous musicians and actors and written stories for Rolling Stone and other magazines and newspapers during the last 35 years. His time wasn’t only spent punching out stories on a typewriter, as his voice was also heard on Bay Area radio stations KSAN and KQED and his face appeared on television programs in the late 1970s. Today, he continues to write and he’s often invited to emcee community events.

“I’ve had a pretty incredible career and I owe it all to having attended San Francisco State. When I first registered in the summer of 1962 and plunked down the $48 tuition, I thought about the things I wanted to learn and to do in writing and in broadcasting but I also saw them as long shot fantasies,” said Fong-Torres, 58. “But I was at the right school at the right time. Here at San Francisco State there were no closed doors, no well-meaning little chats about how I might want to consider other lines of work ... where Asians have done well.”

Fong-Torres found work that melded his love of music with journalism. As Billboard Magazine recently exclaimed, “You couldn’t hope for a more upbeat, sane and dryly revealing observer of popular music’s halcyon era.”

In addition to his Alumnus of the Year honor, Fong-Torres will be one of four inductees into the SFSU Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Friday, May 23.

“It gives me and this entire University great pleasure to honor Ben Fong-Torres for his extraordinary work as a journalist, author and broadcaster,” President Robert A. Corrigan said. “San Francisco State University was his training ground for a successful career in newspapers, radio and television. We are proud to call him one of our own and we look forward to welcoming him back to campus to present this award.”

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Last modified May 9, 2003, by the Office of Public Affairs