Pioneer Newswoman Ann Corrick

“Beauteous Ann Corrick, the Radio Gal” (1)

Earlier this year, I wrote about our ongoing efforts in Mass Media & Culture to amplify women’s voices in broadcast history. Investigating intriguing figures in our collections – people once prominent in their fields – often reaches a dead end when trying to assemble a career timeline. Such was the case with a female journalist, active from the 1940s to the 1960s, whose literal voice was among those news stories from Westinghouse broadcasting which we recently digitized. 

Ann Marjorie Corrick achieved several “firsts” as a journalist, research showed, but she seems to have disappeared from the public record after 1970. A published interview or two, an occasional quote in newspapers, and one or two sentences in trade publications during her career were all I could find. Many of her male colleagues at Westinghouse received obituaries in major newspapers. When Corrick died in Palo Alto in 2000, there wasn’t any notice, even in the local press (2). However, what I was able to uncover illuminates the work of a tenacious reporter who forged an impressive career by any standard. 

Corrick was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan in 1921, attended the University of Texas at Austin, graduating in 1943 with a major in journalism and a minor in economics.

“I was lucky. I came here during the war,” Corrick told a New Orleans newspaper in 1955. “I really came east to seek my fortune in New York… But I stopped in Washington to visit some former schoolmates of mine who had located here and were making a success of their jobs” (3).

She found a job with Transradio Press, which supplied news to individual radio stations by teletype and shortwave (4). “I was just thrown into the business of covering government,” she said. “My first assignment was the major tax revision during the war period, and I had to sink or swim” (5). 

Corrick said she was given the “treatment” by the men covering Capitol Hill during the first year. “They used to trip me when I was racing for a phone. It was rough. But I just kept my mouth shut. It was business, and you’ve got to take it” (6).

When Transradio folded in 1951, Corrick continued as a freelance journalist. She worked as a producer for two NBC news programs, “Youth Wants to Know” and “American Forum” for a year. She also wrote for well-known news reporter Eric Sevareid’s program on CBS radio.

“One of the biggest things during that time was writing for Sevareid. I had to cast my mind into his pattern of thinking. It’s quite a thing to know I was sort of controlling his thoughts” (8).

For several years, Corrick worked as a freelance correspondent for Crosley Broadcasting’s WLW and WLWT in Cincinnati. She also worked for Roll Call, the Washington-based newspaper, reporting legislative news and covering congressional elections across the country (9). In 1952, Corrick was elected treasurer of the Radio-Television Correspondents Association, which represents reporters covering Congress. She was the first and, at that time, only woman elected to the association’s governing board (10).

By 1955, she worked for WDSU-AM-TV in New Orleans as a Washington reporter. She also produced “Dateline Washington,” a television show the station aired every two weeks. The program received a citation for local public service. In 1956, she provided WDSU with live radio coverage and commentary from the Senate gallery of the hearings on Communist activities and filmed interviews for the television station’s Sunday Supplement program. The live coverage was the first time a single station carried hearings direct to local listeners. It also marked the first time a woman originated a broadcast from the Senate Caucus Room (11).

In 1958, Rod MacLeish, bureau chief for Westinghouse news, recognizing her 14 years of experience, hired Corrick as assistant bureau chief. In addition to daily spot news broadcasts, she produced and moderated a half-hour weekly interview program – “Washington Viewpoint.” Quotes from this program often made front-page news (12). 

Sid Davis, who covered the White House for Westinghouse news, remembered Corrick in a 2003 interview. “Well, she’d been around Washington for a long time and had kind of been adopted by some of the Democrats. She went to school in the South, and she had a slight Southern accent. She had worked for WDSU in New Orleans as a Washington correspondent. So she knew the Southern delegations, Eddie Hébert and some of the powerhouses in the South. She also knew Sam Rayburn. ‘Mr. Sam’ she called him. And Sam Rayburn kind of adopted her as a little daughter”(13).

Corrick was named president of the Radio and TV Correspondents Association for the 1961-62 term. She was the first woman to hold that position. At the annual dinner following her election, Vice President Lyndon Johnson escorted her to the head table where President Kennedy and Sam Rayburn were waiting to congratulate her (14). 

In 1962, the Association for Women in Communications honored Corrick with the National Headliner Award for her work in radio and television (15). When she eventually left Westinghouse in 1967, she had reported on every Democratic and Republican national convention since 1944 (16).

Corrick then joined the United States Information Agency’s Foreign Service. She served first as an information officer at Expo ’67 in Montreal, then as a congressional liaison, and finally spending two years in Saigon (17). In a thorough Internet search, the last item I could find was a note she sent to her alumni magazine in 1970. 

The book Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting gives Corrick a two-sentence mention (18). But she deserves more. Special Collections in Mass Media & Culture shares an audio clip of her below in hopes that researchers will be intrigued and delve deeper into her life and work.

Ann Corrick narrates this memorial for Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House, after his death in 1961.


Jim Baxter completed a master’s degree in journalism before coming to work for Special Collections in Mass Media and Culture and is a researcher in early television.

Sources:

(1) Bennett, Jerry, “Birthday Party for Two Big Blowout,” The Pensacola News (Florida) May 14, 1960. “Guests of honor were Rep. Thomas J. O’Brien of Chicago and beauteous Ann Corrick, the radio gal.” (Newspapers.com)

(2) Social Security Death Master File.

(3) Interview fragment in the Westinghouse News Bureau collection (UMD).

(4) Broadcasting magazine, July 10, 1944 (WorldRadioHistory.com)

(5) “It Was Tough, She Says,” New Orleans Item, January 4, 1956 (New Orleans City Archives & Special Collections); Sutherland, Liz, “First Lady’s Weekly Press Conferences Gave Capital Newspaperwomen First Real Chance,” The Austin American, March 14, 1944 (Newspapers.com).

(6) “It Was Tough, She Says,” New Orleans Item, January 4, 1956. 

(7) Broadcasting, September 3, 1951; Broadcasting, September 8, 1952; Lexington Advertiser, June 7, 1962 (NewspaperArchive.com); The Ocean Star (New Jersey), Feb 16, 2007 (Newspapers.com).

(8) “It Was Tough, She Says,” New Orleans Item, January 4, 1956.

(9) Logansport Pharos-Tribune (Indiana), Dec 4, 1952 (Newspapers.com); Broadcasting, March 2, 1953; Television Digest, January 2, 1954 (WorldRadioHistory.com); Congressional Record, June 14, 1956 (Google Books); Lexington Advertiser (Mississippi), June 7, 1962.

(10) Isabelle Shelton, “News Beat Scored by Ann Corrick,” Washington Star, January 19, 1958 (loc.gov/collections/chronicling-america).

(11) “WDSU Marks ‘Firsts’ in Hearing Coverage,” Radio Daily, April 6, 1956; “WDSU-AM-TV Coverage of Senate is Intense,” Broadcasting, April 16, 1956 (WorldRadioHistory.com).

(12) Broadcasting, April 7, 1958; Sponsor, April 12, 1958 (WorldRadioHistory.com).

(13) Sid Davis Oral History Interview,” John F. Kennedy Library, February 10, 2003.

(14) “First Woman Elected By Radio, TV Writers,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, January 12,  1961 (Newspapers.com); Television Digest, January 16, 1961; Broadcasting, January 29, 1961; “The 9th Column,” The Austin American, May 10, 1961; “Short Tales from Longhorns,” The Alcade (University of Texas at Austin alumni magazine), October 1961.

(15) “Journalism Unit Gives 3 Awards,” Baltimore Sun, June 7, 1962 (Proquest);”National Theta Sigma Phi Meet to Begin Wednesday,” San Antonio Express And News, June 17, 1962; “News Women Honor Headliners,” San Antonio Light, June 22, 1962 (NewspaperArchive.com); Television Digest, June 25, 1962; Smith, Hazel Brannon, “Through Hazel Eyes,”Lexington Advertiser, June 28, 1962.

(16) Lexington Advertiser, June 7, 1962.

(17) Broadcasting, July 17, 1967; U.S. Department of State, The Biographic Reporter, July 1970 (Google Books); The Alcade, May 1968; December 1970.

(18) Donna L. Harper, Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting (Second Edition), M.E. Sharpe, Inc. 2014: 201.

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