When DEQ was established in Oregon in 1968, Mike Donahue’s career at KOIN officially began. When he announced his retirement on a midday news show in 2012, everything came to an end.
“Everyone, everyone who works, retires at some point. Because of the relationship we’ve built over the years, I’ve reached this milestone and today I’m announcing my retirement,” he said that day. But decades ago, he was an obscure 22-year-old reporter writing a story about the fledgling Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
“I used my Chevrolet because it had a hole in the muffler that would never pass the DEQ test,” he said. Over the decades, Mike traveled the world and was sent abroad on numerous missions, including Somalia. But one of the most memorable stories of his career was the eruption of Mount St Helens in 1980.
“What I’ll never forget is when Jimmy Carter came to see the disaster, we all piled into a Chinook helicopter and followed him,” Mike recalls. “He called it a ‘lunar landscape’ … there was nothing there, everything was shrouded in gray.” There were also some bright moments in the eruption reports. During a live TV broadcast, a passing dog grabbed Mike’s microphone.
“We just lost the microphone,” he said. “So I’m speechless about the Mt St Helens update, I’ve been attacked by nature, dogs and everything.”