NBC 7’s Gene Cubbison has been telling other people’s stories for more than four decades but, on Wednesday, the retired reporter gets to add another page to his own story.
The County of San Diego recognized Cubbison’s long career as a local journalist with a proclamation in his honor at the San Diego County Board of Supervisor’s morning meeting.
"Gene Cubbison is a giant in professional journalism," said San Diego Supervisor Greg Cox at the meeting. "Gene has been somebody that is an institution in San Diego; he's been around a long time."
Before retiring on Nov. 9, Cubbison had worked as a reporter for more than 45 years, spending 35 of those years at NBC 7. Cubbison was also the host of “Politically Speaking” on NBC 7 and had a knack for explaining local politics in ways anyone could understand.
"He's a tough questioner," said Cox, referring to Cubbison's role on the public affairs show. "He doesn't mince his words. He doesn't let us get away with just kind of glib answers."
According to Cubbison, he worked on an average of 200 stories per year.
“There are a lot of tears that have been shed in front of me; some on my shoulder,” said Cubbison, recalling interviews that accompanied those stories.
Over his career as a newsman, Cubbison interviewed three U.S. presidents: the late George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also interviewed governors, senators, member of Congress, celebrities and athletes.
But, while reflecting on his career last month, he told NBC 7 his most memorable story was one that he dubbed “Bus Boy.”
In February 1997, Cubbison was assigned to cover a breaking news story in San Diego’s East County, where a man had hijacked an empty transit bus, forced the driver out and was joyriding 67 miles around town.
The man was driving near Fletcher Parkway when he spotted Cubbison, his photographer and the lights as Cubbison was live on the air with NBC 7.
“And, at one point, he stopped in front of us, and I said, ‘What’s going on here?’” Cubbison recounted. “The door opened, and he stumbled out the stairs and came lying at my feet, spread eagle like this.”
A crowd had gathered to watch the police pursuit of the man in the bus and watched him surrender right in front of Cubbison and the rolling cameras. To this day, Cubbison chuckles at how that story ended.
Cubbison will now enjoy his retirement, which will include coffee, plenty of reading and many (winning) rounds of golf.