In Marin / CONVERSATION
AT A GATHERING of Bay Area hikers or open space advocates, you’ll notice Doug McConnell has trouble getting from point A to point B. It’s because everyone
seeing the host of NBC’s OpenRoad with Doug
McConnell wants to talk with him or hug and
thank him for all the good he does in promoting
Bay Area hiking trails and open spaces.
And McConnell enjoys it. Why not?
He’s doing what he loves to do with people
who, like himself, delight in spending time
with Mother Nature. Blessed with a mellow
voice and rugged good looks, McConnell has
been broadcasting news and insights on the
outdoor world for half a century. After a child-
hood with time spent in both Northern and
Southern California, he earned a bachelor’s
degree in government from Pomona College
and a master’s in political science from
New Jersey’s Rutgers University, then later
returned to the West Coast. It took McConnell
a few years before he recognized his life’s call-
ing was writing, producing and telling stories
about people, animals and the great outdoors.
After a short stint with a TV news magazine in Seattle, McConnell hosted KPIX’s
and the Discovery Channel’s Mac and Mutley,
a show about his adventures with his lovable scuba-diving dog, as well as Discovery’s
The Adventurers, Wild Things and Petline. In
1993, McConnell became host and managing
editor of KRON’S Bay Area Backroads, one
of the longest-running regional television
series in American broadcast history. In 2009,
OpenRoad with Doug McConnell first aired
on San Francisco’s public television station
KQED and across the nation; in 2015, NBC Bay
spot during spring and summer, when outdoor
activities locally are at their peak.
McConnell, his wife, Kathy Taft, and a
coterie of animals have lived in Corte Madera
for the past 33 years. The couple has t wo
adult sons: Nicolas lives with his family in the
Berkeley Hills, and Patrick leads biking tours
in Europe. McConnell’s production company,
Digital Story Company, is in Mill Valley.
How many people and what type of equipment
are involved in producing a half-hour segment
of OpenRoad with Doug McConnell We’ve got
a tight team cranking out our weekly episodes.
Along with myself, the field producing, writ-
ing and editing of the stories is done by two
fabulous photographer/editors I’ve worked
with a long time, Stefan Ruenzel and Jordan
BY JIM WOOD
The Marin journalist and naturalist is
approaching 50 years as a broadcaster.
PHOTO BY LENNY GONZALEZ