Jessica Savitch, 1947-1983

In the 1970s, as the American women’s movement was gaining traction, a female newscaster was such a novelty that a word had to be created to describe it:  anchorwoman.

Jessica Savitch was among the first class of women to break into television news.  She is widely reported to have been the first female TV news anchor in the south (at KHOU-TV in Houston, TX).  At KYW-TV she was the first woman in the Philadelphia market to anchor a prime-time newscast. During her tenure at NBC News, a TV Guide viewer poll named her among the most trusted news anchors in the country.

Along the way, she won numerous awards, including four Emmys, and inspired a new generation of broadcast journalists.


In this clip, Jessica discusses her career path at Ithaca College in 1975. She had recently been promoted at KYW-TV, becoming Philadelphia’s first female prime time anchor.

The cautionary tale of her troubled life is well documented elsewhere to varying degrees of accuracy.  This website illustrates Jessica’s trailblazing role for women in TV news, and showcases some of her work.  It is designed as a resource for anyone seeking information about her influential career path in an historic context.

Several years after her death, family and friends created scholarships in Jessica’s name at her alma mater, Ithaca College, as well as Temple University and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  The scholarship awardees are her living legacy.  This website was created for them.