Carolyn Wean – Shattered Glass Ceiling

Carolyn Wean - photo: KDKA  Sorry to hear about the death of Carolyn Wean.  She began her career with Group W in 1970, producing a talk show in Boston.  In 1977,  she moved on to be the first woman news director at KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, making her the first female news director at any of the Pittsburgh tv stations and one of the first women to head up a tv news department in the country.   In the words of the American Journalism Review, “ 1977, a woman news director was about as rare as a woman astronaut.”  And Carolyn, was, at that time,  in a top-10 market.  She was a pioneer.

A few years later, she became the first general manager of a tv station in the city’s history.  She also served as the GM for KPIX in  San Francisco, and as vice president of production and business development for WQED-TV back in Pittsburgh.    You may have seen the “Doo Wop” specials on PBS? Those were Carolyn’s.

I knew her at KDKA in the burgh, during the headstrong days of Bill and Patty Burns, the Rev. Bill Curry with sports, Bob Kudzma with the weather and an occasional angry commentary from Al Julius.   We dominated the market and Carolyn was brought in from Boston to keep our winning record going.    She and I didn’t always get along.

During the dark days of the Jimmy Carter energy crisis, the City of Pittsburgh was pretty much closed for business after 5PM or so.  I had been brought in as a specialist of sorts, to handle a new and exciting thing called ENG “live-shots,” but the energy crisis had left me with little to cover – unless I wanted to go out and stand in the dark in front of closed storefronts – which, in retrospect, might not have been a bad idea.

Carolyn called me into her office to tell me that I was being wasted on the night shift and that she was moving me dayside, to an 8-4 shift, where there was still some real news happening.  I was less than happy with her decision as I felt the move was a demotion.   The discussion became heated and I asked to be released from my contract.  She agreed, and that was that.  An hour or so later I cooled off and reconsidered what I had done.  I went back in her office, we talked, and she hired me back to fill out the term of my contract with Group W.  We moved forward as though nothing had happened.  Nobody ever knew anything had, until now.  Most news directors probably wouldn’t have been so generous.

The last time I saw Carolyn Wean was in 1979, at the funeral of my great good friend and mentor, KDKA cameraman Eddie Romano.   As I recall, she was no longer news director at KDKA.  She had moved on to bigger and better things.  I distinctly remember my feeling of appreciation that she showed up for the service.

Carolyn, was 68.  She was one smart and thoughtful lady.  The two don’t always go hand in hand.  But with Carolyn, they did.  RIP

Arrangements are being handled by Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home, 7441 Washington St., Pittsburgh.

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