This was the photo in the envelope I received in 1970, accompanied by a resume from a CBS News desk assistant named Jessica Savitch. I was under increasing pressure from civil rights activists to put more women on the air. So I brought Jessica to Houston for an interview, and eventually hired her as KHOU’s first female news reporter.
Jessica hadn’t been quite truthful about her on-air reporting experience. But she learned on the job, covering a wide range of stories as a general assignment reporter. And while her blatant ambition failed to endear her to her newsroom colleagues, it was clear that Houston’s TV viewing audience found her immensely appealing.
In 1971, Jessica was appointed to the Saturday night news anchor spot, becoming the first anchorwoman in the south. Shortly thereafter, KHOU moved into the top spot in the ratings, due in part to Jessica’s popularity.
-Dick John, KHOU News Director, 1968-1975
The above clip is a series of stand-ups done by Jessica at KHOU in Houston.