Suzanne Kubota, Federal News Radio’s digital content manager, died suddenly after a brief illness Saturday. She was 49 years old.
Kubota, known for her quick wit, her journalistic principles and her love of the weirdness of the world around her, worked at WTOP and Federal News Radio for the better part of 20 years.
She is survived by her partner Flip Oberdick.
“Suzanne was a caring, loving woman who made this big city news station feel like a hometown,” said Lisa Wolfe, Federal News Radio’s program director. “We loved her and we’ll miss her.”
Kubota, who lived in East Berlin, Pa., and made the more than two-hour commute daily, had an impact across both Federal News Radio and WTOP.
Kubota was WFED’s self-proclaimed ‘webinatrix,’ often finding quirky news items to post alongside the more serious federal news stories and audio that she fashioned each morning. The Nearly Useless Factoid was included with every column written by Mike Causey, which gained Kubota fan mail from across the world. She brought cleverness to the Web through her creative headlines and strong editing skills.
She was as talented with the keyboard as she was with PhotoShop to develop eye-popping graphics for FederalNewsRadio.com.
“Suz has been such a big part of FederalNewsRadio.com’s success and we will miss her in so many ways. Our website, our Web team, and our office won’t be the same without our colleague and our friend,” said Julia Ziegler, Federal News Radio’s web manager.
In her staff bio, Kubota wrote about her favorite part of the job: “I love being able to show and tell what’s good about the federal government and the people in it! I know this beat is boring for some, but it’s a neverending source of delight to me.”
Kubota’s talent went beyond her writing and work on the website. Her colleagues fondly remembered her incredible sense of humor and her funny stories. A perfect example of her humor is in her farewell message to the outgoing HR director (see video below).
She also had a way to make 4 a.m. seem like not such an early wake-up call. Most of all, they remembered her kindness in helping others and for her generosity.
Kubota often brought snacks for the morning crew, like Fritos and dip, a favorite among the staff.
“She’d buy ice cream sandwiches when it was really hot and sometimes she stopped off at Scheetz and bought us all breakfast sandwiches,” said Amy Morris, Federal Drive anchor and Federal News Radio executive editor.
Kubota loved the military; her father was in the Navy. She was a whiz at Jeopardy, and even tried out for the show. Kubota also was a voracious reader, often giving her favorite books to her friends. Living in Pennsylvania, she was a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Penn State football.
“Suzanne did her job with tremendous passion and dedication,” said Joel Oxley, Federal News Radio general manager. “What I will miss the most though is the creativity, wit and intelligence she brought each and every day not only to her work but to life. Suzanne will truly be missed by all of us who were lucky enough to know her.”
A private memorial service is planned for family only.
Read Senior Correspondent Mike Causey’s column remembering Kubota here.