Robert Knight, a Polk Award–winning investigative reporter who worked for New York Pacifica affiliate WBAI-FM, died April 16 from complications of an unspecified illness. He was 64.
Knight joined WBAI in the late 1970s, anchoring WBAI’s daily investigative program Five O’Clock Shadow and the environmental news program Earthwatch. He also served as WBAI’s news director and occasionally co-hosted the morning show Wake Up Call.
Knight’s global investigations took him to countries including Nicaragua, Colombia, North and South Korea, and Libya, where he interviewed former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. He won his Polk Award for a 1989 investigation into the U.S. invasion of Panama, which included an interview with ousted dictator Manuel Noriega. Knight also reported for NPR and Free Speech Radio News and appeared on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.
Knight was WBAI’s senior national correspondent when he was laid off from the station in August 2013, along with the entire news department, due to Pacifica’s crippling financial burdens. He lost his position with Five O’Clock Shadow but continued to host Earthwatch, which he had always done on a volunteer basis.
Knight had personal connections to the civil rights movement, according to Paulette Spencer, his partner of 12 years. His mother dated Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and one of Knight’s uncles was a Tuskegee Airman. Knight was born in Wilkesboro, N.C., and initially studied in the seminary to become a Jesuit priest before going to school for a degree in electrical engineering and ultimately focusing on journalism.
Knight is survived by his partner Paulette Spencer and three brothers, Michael, Dale and Alan.