Wanda Ramey, the first woman news anchor in the western United States and the second woman news anchor on local television in America, is scheduled to be present Thursday when for the quarterly gathering of the Broadcast Legends. Everyone interested in local broadcasting is welcome to attend.
The subject of the program is Bay Area women in broadcasting, with a look back at some of the pioneering women in local radio and TV — including Sybil True, Evangeline Baker, Wilda Wilson Church, Edna Fisher and Wanda Ramey.
Ramey worked at a number of radio and TV stations in the Bay Area in the 1940s and 50s, hosting programs such as “The Woman Behind the Man,” where she would interview the wives of well-known men.
Her big break came in 1959 when she was hired to co-anchor Channel 5’s new noon newscast. From the Broadcast Legends Web site:
- There had never before been a half-hour of midday news. The anchors were John Weston, “Channel 5’s Guy on the Go,” and Wanda Ramey, “Channel 5’s Gal on the Go.”
- Wanda was one of the first women news anchors in the country and talented enough to survive the title they hung on her. That may not be entirely accurate. In a videotape of one of the early Noon News broadcasts, the program ends with a superimposition over Wanda Ramey of “Girl on the Beat” as Ramey closes by saying, “Wanda Ramey, Woman on the Beat.”
Click here to see a Kate Kelly report from 2006 on the history of KPIX, which includes clips of Ramey on the “Noon News.”
- Within the year, KPIX “promoted” Wanda from “girl” to “woman.” The spoken introduction to the Noon News became, “Now, live from San Francisco, it’s the Channel 5 Noon News, all the news from all the world, with exclusive features from your man and woman on the beat, Wanda Ramey and John Weston.”
- … Within six months the “Noon News” on KPIX had become the highest rated 30-minute newscast in the Bay Area!
One reason the “Noon News” became the top rated half-hour news show in six months was that viewers found the Channel 5 news exciting with Ramey’s style of broadcasting. She put on a workman’s helmet and from a construction elevator beamed out a KPIX special on the progress of the newest, tallest building in San Francisco. She rode with the S Squad at midnight to give KPIX Noon News viewers the lowdown on San Francisco Detail Police. She brought her viewers face to face with one of their new neighbors, a bearded beatnik recently moved to North Beach from Greenwich Village. She wanted to find out just what makes a beatnik tick.
Rosie Allen, KGO-AM’s afternoon co-anchor, will host Thursday’s luncheon with Terry Lowry as emcee. Belva Davis, Melanie Morgan, Cammy Blackstone and Trish Bell taking part in the presentation. Here’s how to RSVP. (Photo credits: Top, Broadcast Legends; The rest, KPIX)