Herb Zettl Dies at 94 – Leaving Memories Galore

Dr. Herbert Zettl, distinguished Professor Emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) at San Francisco State University died Monday, October 30th at home in Forest Knolls, California.  He was 94

By Joyce Mitchell, SF NATAS Board 

Having made a huge mark in the television industry, Herb Zettl taught, mentored, and touched the lives of thousands of students. Many work in the business today, thanks to the guidance and direction from Zettl.

Zettle, at the age of 94, died October 30, 2023 at his home in Forest Knolls, CA. He was a distinguished Professor Emeritus of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts (BECA) at San Francisco State University. His teaching continues via several of his books that include Television Production Handbook, Sight South Motion, and Applied Media Aesthetics. As we approach the Gold & Silver Circle Induction Ceremony coming up Saturday November 11, 2023, Zettl will be remembered as a veteran who made a difference not only in our region but throughout the world. His books were translated into several foreign languages – Spanish, Greek, and Chinese – to name but a few.

Zettl, who carries many letters behind his name including a PhD from Berkeley and MA from Stanford, was inducted into the NorCal/SF Silver Circle in 1998. A few years later in 2012, He again was honored with induction into the Gold Circle. His career in broadcast journalism was later honored by the Academy with presentation of the Governors’ Award in 2016.

After 40 years at San Francisco State University, Zettl retired from teaching. But his legacy lives Before going in to teaching, Zettl worked at several television stations including KPIX/CBS in San Francisco. There, he was a producer-director, participating in numerous CBS and NBC network TV productions such as Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person and various network specials.

In addition to his scholarly work and close connections with students and department members from San Francisco State University, Zettl was an accomplished painter whose art was shown in many exhibits. He was also a member of NATAS and Broadcast Legends.

To bid farewell to this giant in our business, a public memorial will soon be announced. Zettl is survived by his wife Erika, daughter Renee, son Alex and 11 grand and great Grandchildren.

Gone…but never forgotten.