While KTVU Channel 2 morning news anchor Pam Cook didn’t grow up in Marin, she has a unique perspective on the county. As the former host of “The Marin Report,” a local cable program during the early Nineties, she encountered many of the county’s movers and shakers as well as important political and social issues of the time.
Cook grew up in the northern part of San Diego and moved to San Francisco after studying Economics and Journalism at UCLA. She says, “It was great living in the City, but I got tired of the fog. I got a mountain bike and began riding with friends. The first time I rode a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin and hit that wall of warm weather, it felt more like Southern California to me. That’s when I knew I wanted to move to Marin.” She moved to Tiburon in 1990 and presently lives in San Rafael.
By coincidence, mountain biking trails was a major subject of Cook’s reports at Viacom during the early Nineties. She says, “It became a very big story — Who has access to the trails? Who should be on them? Who should have priority use?”
She remembers, “There were some people who were very out in the open like Gary Fisher and the guys in Marin County who basically came up with the mountain bike. They were avid mountain bikers and helped create a lot of trails. But there were some other people who went after hours and created their own single track trails.” She says various interest groups including hikers, horseback riders, and bicyclists were pitted against each other over use of the trails and “the mountain bikers were made out to be criminals in some cases. It was a very emotional issue.”
Pam Cook reports for Viacom 31 on a plan in the ’90s to possibly reopen the Alto Tunnel connecting Mill Valley to Corte Madera.
Cook says she grew to understand the commitment of Marin’s Environmental community from her reporting on “The Marin Report.” She explains, “I learned that people really care about this area…And going back to my Southern California roots where developers moved in and how open space wasn’t preserved…I came to appreciate all the people who have fought so hard to preserve open space (in Marin.)”
Mentioning the work done by MALT (Marin Agricultural Land Trust) and the preservation of Point Reyes, she says. “I just really grew to appreciate those people, and realized that you have to fight for (the environment) constantly. They did — and they preserved a lot of open space — and that’s what makes it so pretty.”
Beyond Marin’s beauty, Cook relished her opportunity to learn more about the county’s history and lore. During a Halloween-themed story for “The Marin Report,” for example, she got an education in some of Marin’s ghost stories. She says the Falkirk mansion in San Rafael may look to the casual observer like a “neat old house” but, digging a little deeper reveals an interesting tale about a wailing ghost-bride. She also learned about a ghost train near White Hill.
Cook says hearing stories about Falkirk, or the old gravity trains on Mt. Tam, or the bootlegging that occurred during Prohibition at Sam’s restaurant in Tiburon, epitomize the magic of discovering Marin’s history.
She says, “As we’re driving, riding our bikes, or walking in the woods, if we don’t ask about these stories or we don’t read about them, we don’t know them. And they just make the area so much more interesting and vibrant. That’s why I got into journalism. I love hearing people’s stories.