Remembering TV pioneer Marlene Sanders

Journalist Marlene Sanders passed away earlier this week at age 84.

In 1964, Sanders was the first woman to anchor an evening network news program when she substituted for Ron Cochran on ABC. This was just one of the many groundbreaking moments in a career that ranged from field reporting in Vietnam to the upper reaches of programming management.

In the late 80s Sanders wrote, along with Marcia Rock, the University of Illinois Press book Waiting for Prime Time: The Women of Television News. ¬†Feminist icon Betty Friedan called the book “a groundbreaking first history of the ‘underground’ women’s movement at the networks.”

The book celebrates the female broadcasters who broke into the heavily male-dominated profession of television and radio news.

In the book Sanders mentions the glass ceiling she, herself, pushed hard to shatter.

I have been lucky to witness so many of the major events of the past thirty years and to have reported them on radio and television. It is one of the greatest rewards of this business to do so. It has also been a struggle to gain a foothold, and to hand on to it, in a still mainly male-dominated profession.

Sanders went on to add, in an afterward published in a 1994 edition of Waiting for Prime Time:

It is hard, demanding, competitive work. It’s worth a try, though, if you care enough. Despite the many disappointments I have had, the political battles I fought and sometimes lost, and the disruption to my own life and to my family’s, it is something I would do over again in an instant.

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