KOIN news anchor, C-W native Wayne Havrelly retires after 40 years

Emmy award-winning journalist reflects on media career

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Wayne Havrelly has signed off the television airwaves for the last time.

Havrelly, a Camas resident, retired from KOIN, a Portland television station, after the final broadcast of his award-winning 40-year journalism career on Sunday, Aug. 27.

“It’s just been a really great experience,” Havrelly said. “I was very fortunate everywhere I worked. I’m more than satisfied (with my career). It’s been a very special ride. I would have never imagined that I’d be able to do that, to be able to see the things (that I saw) and report history over the course of four decades, and to help people and to live in some great places and work with amazing people. I still sometimes have to pinch myself, I enjoyed it that much.”

Havrelly said that his life outside of work dictated the timing of his retirement more than anything else.

“(My wife Julie and I) just kind of came to a certain point in our lives where we’re really busy doing a lot of our property management stuff. Plus, we are about to build a house on a rural property, family property, up the Washougal River,” Havrelly said. “We’re going to do a lot more traveling and things like that eventually, but (we have a) pretty stacked-up calendar right now.”

Julie and Havrelly’s parents, Washougal residents Gus and Sandy Havrelly, surprised him with a visit to the KOIN news studio Aug. 27, to watch his final broadcast in person and celebrate with him afterwards.

“It was really awesome to have my parents and wife there for my last broadcast,” he said. “”(My co-workers) put together a four-minute piece of a bunch of clips from everywhere I’ve worked and put it on the air at the end of the night. It was really, really touching. It was a pretty nice way to end my career.”

Havrelly said that his co-workers at KOIN were “fantastic.” They felt the same way about him.

“Over the years, Wayne Havrelly proved one thing: He’s a journalist seeking to find and share the truth on whatever topic he covers,” according to an article on KOIN’s website. “He’s a credit to this profession — and he’s earned the right to be a keen observer instead of a reporter.”

When Havrelly was young, he thought that he might eventually become an educator like his mother (Sandy served as a first-grade teacher for the Washougal School District for several decades). But eventually he gravitated toward journalism, partly thanks to the tutelage of one of his high school teachers, Ed Pontes.

“He worked in Hollywood much of his life on shows like ‘The Bob Hope Show’ and ‘The Red Skelton Show,’ all of these amazing NBC Hollywood shows,” Havrelly said. “He retired up here pretty young, and then he got bored, so he figured out how to build a television station in Washougal High School. He did a two-hour class, but he only picked 12 students, and we got a chance to do everything from writing and producing to behind-the-camera (work), technical directing — everything. It was unbelievable, really. He was tough, but he was fantastic. He was kind of my mentor, and I would stay in touch with him most of my life.”

Havrelly graduated from Washougal High in 1982, then moved on to Eastern Washington University, where he served as a public address announcer for sporting events and radio disc jockey.

While still in school, Havrelly began his professional career at KHQ in Spokane, where he worked from 1985 to 1992. He then relocated to Orlando, Florida, where he worked for two television stations from 1992 to 2000, when he accepted a position at KIRO in Seattle.

He moved back to the Portland area in 2006, working for KGW until 2015 and accepting a job as a freelance reporter with KOIN in 2017 after a two-year sabbatical.

KOIN promoted him to weekend anchor in March 2020.

“One of the things I’ll miss the most is the people who really are dedicated to the truth and following traditional rules of journalistic storytelling, like verifying sources multiple times before reporting something,” said Havrelly, who worked as a sports reporter for The Post-Record from 2017 to 2020. “They give up a lot of their own lives to tell stories that often are not appreciated.”

Havrelly said that he’ll also miss the connections that he made with his viewers over the years.

“I never took that for granted,” he said. “The main reason I (did) this was because I feel like when something big happens, people need that information. During COVID, early on, people needed that information. During natural disasters, we were on 24/7; we were covering hurricanes for seven days straight without going off the air. I feel like sometimes everything (else is) kind of practice so that you’re good when the ‘big story’ hits and people need that information. Lives depend on it.”

Havrelly’s highlight reel includes dozens of significant, impactful stories. His first-ever live news report for KHQ was interrupted by a bomb during a deadly standoff between Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents and white separatists in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992.

In Orlando and Seattle, Havrelly specialized in investigative reporting, chasing after con artists and recovering millions of dollars for consumers.

He covered quite a few space shuttle launches and landings, and several natural disasters, including hurricanes and one of the deadliest tornadoes in United States history, while in Orlando.

And he interviewed scores of celebrities and covered many presidential visits and events, including the historic global summit between United States President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1993.

“I was really blessed to be able to do some of those types of stories,” he said. “I think you have to operate on adrenaline during some of those times, because you’re not operating on sleep.”

In retirement, Havrelly hopes to spend some more of his time on his music career, which was starting to take off before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020.

From 2017 to 2019, Havrelly sang and played guitar semi-regularly at several east Clark County establishments, including A Beer at a Time in Camas and Washougal Times in Washougal, and events like the Portland Seafood and Wine Festival.

“I do want to get back into that again,” he said, “but I’ve got a lot of work to do, because I’m pretty rusty.”