Television History - The First 75 Years
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First Woman .... 
This page is devoted to records established by women in broadcasting.  If you wish to contribute information (or make corrections) to this page, please contact me, and include your source(s).  Thanks!   :-)


British Broadcasting Records

Radio Newsreader:  Shiela Borrett, for the BBC, of London, England, on 21 August, 1933

Radio Announcer:    Shiela Borrett, for the BBC, of London, England, on 28 August, 1933

Television Announcer:  Elizabeth Cowell, for the BBC, of London, England, 31 August 1936 - (source)

Television Newsreader:  Barbara Mandell, for the BBC, of London, England, on 23 Sept 1955 at Noon.   (source)
            Note:  There are several references to the answer being Angela Rippon, or Anna Ford -- These are incorrect.
                        Angela Rippon did not read the television news until 1976.
                        Anna Ford did not become ITN's newscaster until 13 February 1978 (source)


Australian Broadcasting Records

There seems to be (2) possible answers floating around the Internet --- since no exact start dates are given, I will just show the names and the links, and you can decide!

  • First Female Newsreader on Commercial Prime-time Television --- Gail Jarvis, in the late 70's, who was the first female producer at 60 Minutes, and first female executive producer of Good Morning Australia. 

  • Helen Tiller -- also called the first news reader in Australia.

Christina Koutsoukos -- named the first Australian radio newsreader.  (source)


Canadian Broadcasting Records

First woman newsreader -- Jacquie Perrin, for Toronto station CFTO-TV; Host of Marketplace, reporter and news producer since 1972, after graduating from York University.  Has an impressive career in both radio and television.  (source)


Indian Broadcasting Records

First woman (radio) newsreader -- Ms. Saeeda Bano (passed away 02 May 2001 at age 87, in New Delhi).  She belonged to an aristocratic family of Bhopal.  She began her career in broadcasting by joining All-India Radio (AIR), Lucknow in 1945, as an Urdu announcer for Indian radio.  In April 1947, she shifted to AIR, Delhi, as an Urdu newsreader.


American Broadcasting Records

First female newscaster on a network news program was Ms. Barbara Walters. She signed a $5 million (five year) contract with ABC television as the news evening anchorwoman on April 22, 1976.

First woman on Michigan radio & TV, and first TV newscaster (WWJ-TV, on 4 March 1947) -- these honors go to:

  • Mrs. Fran Harris (1909 - 1998).  Began her radio career in 1931 in Detroit, became the first woman radio newsreader in 1943, and later she had her own radio talk show.  Mrs. Harris wrote and broadcast until 1974 when she retired.  One year after she started television broadcasting in Detroit, there were only 6,400 homes in the area with TV sets (early 1948).

First woman Program Director of a network-owned TV station -- Detroit station WXYZ's Jeanne Sullivan Findlater, in 1975.

First Female Newscaster in the Pittsburgh (tri-state) area ---  Eleanor Schano.  Her broadcasting career spanned four decades, and she was also the city's first solo anchor woman.  (source)

First woman to go on-air in the mechanical era of television ---- there is a problem identifying the first woman to go on the air, since many of the local stations did not keep thorough records of their experimental telecasts. For example, since W1XAY in Lexington MA simulcast some of its sister radio station's programming in 1929, we may assume that Janet Hoch, the station's staff pianist (and later WLEX radio's program director) was seen on TV by what few experimenters tuned in; she accompanied the vocalists and sometimes did some of her own singing. But there is no evidence she was a "regular"; the TV broadcasts seemed to feature whoever was at the station during the hour the experimental transmissions were made. However, there is better documentation at the network level: in the 28 June 1931 issue of "Radiolog" magazine, it states that NATALIE TOWERS has become "the first woman to sign an exclusive contract with a TV station." She joined W2XAB, the Columbia Broadcasting System's experimental station in New York, in the fall of 1930 and began appearing regularly. Miss Towers was a trained vocalist and actress, and a graduate of Wellesley College in Massachusetts.  (Information courtesy of Donna Halper). 

First female announcer in the experimental electronic era of television ---  Betty Goodwin  (source)
 

The first woman to sign a contract with NBC --- actress and model Dorothy Knapp, who had given talks about beauty on a number women's shows on radio; in late 1930, she was hired to give beauty talks on the NBC TV station (W2XBS) in New York. (Information courtesy of Donna Halper). 
 

The first woman news correspondent on network TV --- Pauline Frederick, who covered political conventions for ABC Television in the summer of 1948; she was hired away by NBC in 1953 to cover the United Nations. The first woman news correspondent for CBS was Nancy Dickerson in 1960. (Information courtesy of Donna Halper).

 

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