Gilbert Zermeño is the youngest of five children, the son of migrant farm workers, who finally settled down in the plains of West Texas. He grew up a farmer, rising before the sun to move sprinkler systems after they watered cotton all night. He would finish up his homework and ride the bus 17 miles to school. His dad became a United States citizen when he was in his 80’s, and his Mom in her 70’s.
When he was in the sixth grade, he attended a Career Day event at Lorenzo Elementary School in Texas. The main anchor from the ABC station in nearby Lubbock spoke to his class. He spoke highly of the work photojournalists did for his station. Gilbert was hooked! After graduation, he attended West Texas State University, served an internship at KFDA in Amarillo, Texas, then moved over to KAMR-TV. Thanks to a new station accountant, he was fired from that station. It was the best thing that ever happened to him. With the help of Phoenix radio & TV personality, Bill Austin, he ended up in Phoenix. Bill was a friend of Gilbert’s main anchor and made a few calls on his behalf. He landed a phone interview with then KTSP-TV, now FOX10. They hired him and he loaded up his car with a TV, some clothes and moved to Arizona in 1986. Since his arrival, he has covered stories like Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia, former Arizona Gov. Evan Mecham when he traveled to Central America, the Los Angeles Riots, and traveled the Arizona backroads with fellow Silver Circle Society member, Bill Leverton. Gilbert was also assigned to the helicopter and flew all over the state.
In 1994, a big market shake-up landed the CBS affiliation at KPHO TV-5. Zermeño was hired as a general assignment photographer. One year later, KPHO News started up an Investigative Unit and he became a producer/photographer for the unit. Over the years they have received several regional Emmys and an Edward R. Murrow Award. Gilbert is also a member of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences’ Rocky Mountain Chapter’s Silver Circle Society.
Gilbert was named Best TV Journalist by New Timesin 2012. Along with the accolade, they wrote: “The true stars of the TV news biz often are those whose faces we rarely see on-screen — the camera people, editors, and, yes, folks who produce what passes locally for “investigative” journalism. Our winner, who universally is known in media circles as “Z,” is outstanding at what he does, which is to identify, organize, and execute some pretty in-depth yarns for local public consumption. He has been over at Channel 5 for well more than a decade, which in that line of work equates to about a century. Zermeño knows this Valley and this state like few other journalists, and is as comfortable working with “talent” (on-camera reporters, especially the usually excellent Morgan Loew) in a desert outpost on the border as he is on Phoenix’s often-mean streets. Z’s stories stand tall in a TV market not known for producing many riveting exposés, and for this we applaud him.”