Tuesday, August 18, 2009

TV news pioneer Wanda Ramey dies

The Marin IJ reports that Wanda Ramey Queirolo, the first woman anchor in the western United States and only the second woman anchor in the country, died of cancer Saturday at her home in Greenbrae. She was 85. She is perhaps best known as the co-anchor of the noon news on KPIX in the 1950s. In fact, she holds the distinction of being the co-host of the first local television noon newscast in America, according to Bay Area Broadcast Legends.

When the program began, the opening described her as the "girl on the beat," but within a year girl was changed to woman.

From her Broadcast Legends bio:
    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.
The IJ quotes Peter Cleaveland, news anchor at KGO-TV at about the same time Ramey Queirolo was at KPIX, as saying, "it was a time when you could have women reporting, but they were on the social side or on food. They weren't considered for positions doing hard news and daily news gathering. She broke that line."

Cleaveland added: "She was a thoroughly engaging woman and a classy lady."

(Photo credit: BroadcastLegends.com)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

When I saw the headline "Pioneering Bay Area woman news anchor dies at 85" on the Oakland Trib's web site tonight, I said out loud to my husband, "It must be Wanda Ramey."

Sure enough, I was right. I must've been of preschool age back in the early '60s when I first remember watching Ms. Ramey on our B&W screen. I always thought that my late mother was a big fan. Obviously, Ms. Ramey also made a big impression on me, since I still can recall her name almost 50 years later!

I am happy that she lived such a long and productive life.

Marjorie Evans said...

By saying she was a pioneering anchor in the 50's gives short shrift to her work in the 60s and 70s. I remember a lot of it. She did hard news, not flower shows or society gatherings like other women in TV back then.

It's also disappointing that no other stations reported her death besides KPIX. I believe she also worked at KGO and KRON at different times. Our local media scene has almost no institutional memory. I appreciate the Marin IJ and the Peninsula Press Club for highlighting her career.

Anonymous said...

I remember watching Wanda Ramey and John Weston do the noon and evening news on KPIX during the 60s. I was a fresh-faced teen then.
I never thought much about what ground-breaking and pioneering work Ramey did. I just took it for granted that women should be equal in everything. Now, having read her obit, I realized how truly remarkable Ramey was. And I'm so glad that KPIX back then changed her tag from "girl" to woman.
I'm also sad that no other local station mentioned her passing. Even then, CBS5 did a very short piece on her; it deserved more than a few seconds and then only a mention in the middle of the newscast, given her work in broadcast journalism.