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KDKA-TV news pioneer Manson dies

by PETER JAMES SPIELMANN Associated Press on November 27, 2013 10:40 AM

NEW YORK — Florence Sando Manson, a pioneering newscaster in radio and the early years of television journalism, has died at age 95.

Manson died Monday from complications related to dementia at her home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, family members said.

Manson was a popular on-air personality in Pittsburgh from 1941 to 1959, when the industry was dominated by men.

She broke out of the usual confines of gossip, homemaking and fashion coverage to deliver world news to a market that blanketed much of the East Coast. She interviewed public figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Louis Armstrong, and some of those programs are available at the Museum of Broadcasting in New York. Longtime viewers of Pittsburgh TV stations remembered her for KDKA-TV’s “The Florence Manson Show,” which featured her as a host-interviewer. Earlier, she produced “Women’s Angle,” a 15-minute morning TV broadcast that emphasized hard news.

Manson discussed her work with author and former broadcaster Lynn Boyd Hinds in “Broadcasting the Local News — the Early Years of Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV.”

“It was easy when the news was about Madame Chiang Kai-shek, or the 10 best-dressed women, or Mrs. Roosevelt or Senator Margaret Chase Smith,” Manson said.

“But when the story was about some returning prisoners from Indochina or a Supreme Court ruling on desegregation, then I would have to introduce it with some ridiculous little line that seems to indicate that it related to women.”

Manson also had a career on stage, appearing at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and in summer theater productions of the White Barn Theater in Irwin. She is survived by her husband, a daughter, a son and five grandchildren.

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