This 1969 head shot accompanied hundreds of applications to television stations around the nation. Jessica wrote that the only replies she got were rejections. KHOU was the exception.

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

Jessica was named to the Saturday night anchor post in 1971, becoming the first anchorwoman in the south.


The above clip is a series of stand-ups done by Jessica at KHOU in Houston.
In the 1970s, news stories were shot on film.  Voice-overs were recorded separately.  For this reason, there are only two news packages (as we know them today) from KHOU in the Savitch archives. To the left is a clip of a series of stand-ups, below that video are the two news packages.

A news package done by Jessica at KHOU in Houston.

A news package done by Jessica at KHOU in Houston.