PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Mike Donahue, who became one of the most trusted journalists ever in Portland during a 44-year career with KOIN 6 News, has died, his family confirmed. He was 77.
He died following a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer and was with his family to the end.
Mike Donahue’s career at KOIN began in 1968 with a story about the formation of the Oregon DEQ. It ended in 2012 when he announced his retirement on a noon newscast.
“Everybody eventually retires, everyone who works. And because we’ve developed this relationship over the years I’ve reached that milestone and I’m announcing that I’m retiring today,” he said that day.
But decades earlier he was a 22-year-old unknown reporter who did a story about the fledgling Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
“I used my Chevy because it had a hole in the muffler and never would have passed the DEQ test,” he said.
Over the decades Mike covered the world and was sent overseas for several assignments, including Somalia. But one of the most memorable stories of his career was the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
“What I’ll never forget is we all packed into a Chinook helicopter when Jimmy Carter came to see devastation and we followed him,” Mike recalled. “And he called it a ‘moonscape’ … nothing was there, Everything was covered in gray.”
There were lighter moments during the eruption coverage. While live on TV, a dog running by got caught in Mike’s microphone.
“We just lost our microphone,” he said. “So here I am speechless to do this update on Mt. St. Helens and I’m under attack by nature and dogs and everything else.”
Mike Donahue was in your living room during every time period over his lengthy career at KOIN, from early mornings to prime time.
There is no doubt Mike will be missed by everyone he touched over the years, from friends and family to colleagues and viewers.
As he signed off May 30, 2012, he thanked everyone for their support.
“I thank God and I thank you for keeping me here all these years, so I could continue to do what I really love to do, deliver the news to you. Right now, Ed Murrow would probably say, ‘Good night and good luck.’ Walter Cronkite would say, ‘That’s the way it is.’ And Dan Rather would say, ‘Courage.’ I think I’ll just say goodbye for now.”
KOIN 6 General Manager Tom Keeler shared a statement on Donahue’s passing:
“The entire KOIN 6 family mourns the loss of our former anchor and friend, Mike Donahue. Mike was an amazing storyteller who captured the essence of Portland in every broadcast. We are honored to have had Mike front and center here at KOIN for 44 years and are so thankful for the impact he had on everyone with whom he touched. Our deepest condolences go out to his loving family and friends.”