Monday, November 16, 2009

A Voice That Mattered: Andrea Lewis, 1957-2009

Today brought terrible news: My friend Andrea Lewis, radio host of Berkeley-based KPFA, died of an apparent heart attack over the weekend. She was just 52.
We met two years ago when we were lucky enough to be awarded 10-month John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University. Andrea always arrived early on campus, commuting from her home in San Francisco. We'd chat most mornings before class, inevitably diving into matters too deep for a few hurried minutes. Soon we began meeting for leisurely lunches at our favorite cafe where we soaked up the the rays and talked for hours.
Andrea wore her heart on her sleeve. She cared passionately about everything: her lifelong work in alternative media, her friends, her family, singing, camping, writing, her beloved Bay area.
She never held back when it came to controversy, her husky radio voice cutting to the heart of an issue. Leave it to Andrea to name the elephant in the room. She spoke the truth, come hell or high water -- and I loved her for it.
Sometimes she worried about what the future held for a single woman in her 50s who had devoted her career to fighting racism, sexism, homophobia -- for next to no money. But ultimately, her work mattered more.
When the Seattle P-I closed in March and I lost my job, she was one of the first to call. An hour after we talked, her email popped up in my inbox: "This is the real March Madness!" she declared with her special blend of compassion and outrage-- and I had to laugh, despite it all.
Losing Andrea leaves a huge hole in so many lives. And it's more than personal. The world has lost a journalist who gave everything she had.


  1. That's a very nice tribute, Ruth. You captured our friend and her appealing blend of compassion and toughness very well. Andrea would have loved to read this ... Hope you are doing okay.

    Rick Attig

  2. Ruth,
    That is a beautiful remembrance. It's just so incredibly sad to have lost her. I still can't believe she's just gone. Take care of yourself, and best to Jake and Dwight. Courtenay