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 Newswatch 11 jumped to the #1 spot in the ratings, due in part to Jessica’s popularity.
-Dick John, KHOU News Director, 1968-1975