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Eleanor Schano and her TV Career

Eleanor Schano is a familiar name -- and face -- to those living in the Pittsburgh area. She has been a fixture on the city’s television and radio news since 1951 when as a teenager she auditioned for a series of fashion commercials.

 

Even at that early point in her remarkable career she was working towards her goal of being a real newswoman. At her first audition, she convinced the modeling agency owner that rather than have her silently modeling clothes, she could do a better job of narrating the segments herself. This was her first experience speaking on camera -- which remains her friend to this day.

Eleanor has recorded her personal -- and television’s -- history in her new book entitled Riding the {Air} Waves: 50 Decades on Camera…and Counting. Readers learn of both the good times and the bad times in her career -- where she confronted gender bias at every turn -- and in her personal life. Reading the book will convince anyone that the “glamorous” life on camera is no easier than one off.

 

Television has come a long way, Eleanor will tell you, but in her book she also offers a serious look at how things were -- and still are today -- for women in the media. She has included testimonials in her memoir from several newswomen about their own experiences in carving careers in the world of mass media. Like Eleanor, they all persevered, a tribute really to the women who went before.

 

When I first started working at a small town newspaper in the 1970s, my female contemporaries and I were always stunned at how unsympathetic the older women in the newsroom were to our plight as we tried to break into the tougher news assignments and out of the “family focus” part of the paper. We had thought they would be more welcoming because here we were, the result of their groundwork as pioneers in a man’s profession. That didn’t happen, but it would have been nice to have someone like Eleanor in our camp.

 

Eleanor and I worked together a few years ago and I always liked her. (Having grown up in the Pittsburgh television market, I was also a little awed to be working with someone who I had always known as a “celebrity.”) She holds a lot of “firsts” in the world of broadcasting including being the first female commercial announcer, the first TV weathergirl, the first general assignment female news reporter and one of the first women ever to become the solo anchor of a major market prime-time TV news show. An impressive history for an impressive woman.

 

Today Eleanor is the host of LifeQuest, a TV magazine/talk program offering healthy, financial and lifestyle news for senior adults. The show airs on WQED-TV in Pittsburgh. When she is not on the air, Eleanor is a strong advocate for health and fitness issues for seniors. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband Jack and their blended family of six children and 16 grandchildren.

 

For more information on the book or to purchase one ($24.95, JMF Publishing), visit www.ridingtheairwaves.com or call (412) 682-1812.

 

By Teresa K. Flatley

www.boomthis.com



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