On June 2nd, retired political reporter Hank Plante will accept the 2012 Stan Chambers Award for Extraordinary Achievement from the Associated Press Television and Radio Association. Plante was one of the first openly gay TV reporters in the country, from the time he began a career in TV journalism thirty-five years ago. For his work, Plante has received local and national Emmys, honors from the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and a George Foster Peabody Award. In 2005, GLAAD honored Plante’s groundbreaking career with the Pioneer Award. He is known for his many high-profile political interviews and for covering the AIDS crisis at a time when information was hard to come by, especially in mainstream media.
According to a profile in the San Francisco Chronicle, Plante once hoped to work in politics. Raised outside of Detroit, he went on to study sociology at Michigan State University. After graduating in 1968 as senior class president, Plante moved to Washington DC in search of a job on Capitol Hill. Finding himself out of work in 1970, he applied to be a copy boy at The Washington Post and realized he wanted to be a reporter. He was promoted to the copy desk, and after two and a half years the Post, he applied for a reporting position at a suburban affiliate, the Montgomery County Sentinel. Plante began reporting for free after persuading the paper to let him tryout working on general-assignment stories, but after only five years, he was the Sentinel chain’s managing editor.
Following his years at the Sentinel, Plante pursued radio reporting and then TV journalism, moving around the country for job opportunities in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Houston, and San Francisco. As a reporter at San Francisco’s CBS affiliate, KPIX-TV, Plante began reporting on the AIDS crisis. “The government wasn’t talking about AIDS,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle of the 1980s. “We were. We were doing stories every night.” His devoted reporting earned him the Peabody Award, and his pioneering style would inform his interviews with political figures, in which he often raised issues around LGBT-equality. Over the course of his career, Plante interviewed several prominent politicians, including President Obama, former presidents Richard Nixon and George Bush, and former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Plante retired in March of 2010, after ten years as political editor at KPIX-TV, and moved from San Francisco to Palm Springs with his partner, Roger Groth. He will accept the 2012 Stan Chambers Award from the Associated Press in Pasadena, California. GLAAD congratulates Plante for this honor and for his exceptional work committed to elevating concerns of the LGBT community.