ST. LOUIS - The larger-than-life leader of KTVI and KPLR, Spencer Koch, announced his retirement Monday. The silver-haired, sharp-witted general manager said he’s stepping down October 1 after 23 years at the helm of both stations.
With a television career spanning 48 years so far, Koch made the announcement at the stations’ headquarters in Maryland Heights. Long before social media became a norm of society, Koch understood the impact of the television industry.
“From the time I was a kid, I was fascinated with the television,” Koch said. “I think watching the JFK funeral and Lee Harvey Oswald, it had such an impact on me that I wanted to be in this business.”
An avid golfer and accomplished musician, Koch said he’ll spend more time with his wife Laura on the road across America.
“Laura has been a great companion for 40 years. She and I talked a lot about this. We started talking about it a year ago,” he said. “As time went on and things developing the way they did, we felt this was the time to do it.”
“We also have a daughter in LA and son in Chicago and they’re both really good people. We enjoy being with and want to spend some time with them.”
Throughout his 23 years as general manager of KTVI Fox 2 News and KPLR News 11, Koch has weathered five different ownership changes, throughout it all ranking first in the ratings and winning numerous awards, including Station Excellence Emmys.
“When you go from three and a half hours of news a day to 14 and a half hours, that’s telling the viewership and town that we’re serious about local coverage,” Koch said.
It’s that leadership that’s impressed many charitable organizations in St. Louis over the years.
“Fox 2 has been a supporter of the Men’s Group for years and that’s a result of the relationship with Spencer,” said Margie Price, executive director of the St. Louis Men’s Group Against Cancer. “I can’t even imagine the station without him. He’s going to be sorely missed by the entire St. Louis community for sure.”
“I’ve known Spencer Koch for 25 years. We did Rise and Shine for Heat in Detroit,” said Gentry W. Trotter, founder of Heat Up St. Louis. “The reason we gave Spencer the lifetime achievement award for HeatupStLoius.org is because he wasn’t just a general manager; he was involved in the community and he led his station in the community.”
Brian Roy, executive director of Variety the Children’s Charity of St. Louis, said the community will be losing a huge asset.
“I know on behalf of Variety, I think of all the families and kids and voices he’s given and hopefully he can hang his hat on and be proud of because it’s remarkable,” he said.