BECA mourns the loss of a distinguished scholar and beloved professor
Herbert Zettl, Ph.D. (1929 - 2023)
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.
Herb taught for over 40 years and mentored countless individuals who continue to serve as professors and entertainment industry professionals. Herb is best known for his work in media aesthetics and television production. Herb reached thousands of students and media professionals as author of “Sight Sound Motion: Applied Media Aesthetics” and a series of television production textbooks including, “Television Production Handbook,” “Television Production Workbook,” “Video Basics” and “Video Basics Workbook.” These books are translated into several foreign languages (including Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, Chinese, and Korean) and are used in key television production centers and universities around the world.
Herb’s influence was international. He was the longtime director of the SFSU Institute of International Media Communication. The Institute, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State and the San Francisco International Diplomacy Council, hosted multi-week training visits for television professionals from around the world. Herb was one of the founders of the Visual Communication Association and helped organize their first conference. Herb received the California State Legislature Distinguished Teaching Award in 1966, and in 2004 he received the Distinguished Education Service Award from the Broadcast Education Association.
Prior to joining San Francisco State University, Herb worked at several professional television stations, including KPIX, the CBS-owned and operated station in San Francisco, where he was a producer-director. He participated in numerous CBS and NBC network television productions, such as Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person and several network specials. He is a member of the prestigious Gold Circle of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), for his outstanding contributions to the television profession. He is also a member of NATAS Broadcast Legends.
Herb retired in 2000 but continued his scholarly work and nurtured his close connections with the department, colleagues, and many former students here in the U.S. and from around the world. Herb was an accomplished painter with many art exhibits.
The BECA department mourns the loss of a valued colleague, mentor, visionary, accomplished scholar, and above all a passionate advocate for students.
Professor Zettl is survived by his wife Erika, daughter Renee, son Alex, and 11 grand- and great-grandchildren.
There will be a public memorial to celebrate Professor Zettl's long-time service and achievements at a later date/time.