Joan Murray (journalist)

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Joan Murray (born November 6, 1937) was the first African-American woman to report the news on a major network show. She was employed by CBS in 1965 after writing a letter to CBS-TV requesting they hire her as a news broadcaster.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Joan Murray was born November 6, 1937 in Ithaca, New York. She began her professional life as a court reporter, then becoming a secretary in the Press Department of CBS-TV in New York City, and a secretary to Allen Funt of Candid Camera. She has also worked as a writer for “Women on the Move,” an NBC daytime program hosted by television personality Kitty Carlisle. Joan and her twin sister appeared in both print and television commercials targeting the African-American consumer. In her life, Joan accomplished many firsts as a professional African-American woman. In April 1965, she became the first African-American newswomen employed by a major television station – WCBS (Channel 2, New York City). She was the first, and only, African-American woman to ever sit on the panel for the "classic" CBS program What's My Line?. An accomplished aviator, she was the first African-American woman pilot to participate in the famed Woman’s Air Derby, a grueling and dangerous 9-day air race from Santa Monica, California to Cleveland, Ohio. She has won many awards, including the Mademoiselle Award for Outstanding Achievement, the Urban League’s Certificate of Merit, and the Mary McLeod Bethune Achievement Award from the National Council of Negro Women. In 1969 she left WCBS to co-found one of the first African-American advertising agencies, the Zebra Agency, which had numerous national advertisers. In 1967, Pepsi Cola, determined to open a market that had been largely overlooked by rival Coca-Cola, sponsored “The Joan Murray” radio series, which was produced and nationally syndicated in the U.S. by Hartwest Productions, Inc.[2]

Ebony Magazine[edit]

Murray has been mentioned in Ebony Magazine several times. She was featured in an article for Ebony Magazine in 1966 about Black women who were breaking into television reporting. The article was called "TV News Hens." The three women included Ms. Murray of WCBS-TV, Trudy Haynes of KYW-TV, and Edith Huggins of WCAU-TV.[3]


Ms. Murray is now retired, living in upstate New York; she has donated her archival materials to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in Harlem, New York City.

Living Black History: The Joan Murray Show (Audio CDs)[edit]

Films Around the World, Inc. have released three audio CDs on their Mr. FAT-W Audio label titled "Living Black History: The Joan Murray Show". These historic radio interviews from the Joan Murray Show are fascinating and unique audio portraits of a number of famous and non-so-famous African-American achievers from the 1960s, told to Ms. Murray in their own words. The CDs include interviews with Earl Hines, Maya Angelou, Nina Simone, and James Earl Jones.


  1. ^ Kranz, Rachel (2004). African-American Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs. Facts on File. p. 203. ISBN 0816051011. 
  2. ^ Kogan, Alexander. "President/CEO". Films Around The World, Inc. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "TV News Hens". Ebony Magazine: 44, 45, 46, 50. October 1966.