A native of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, Jessica Savitch began her broadcasting career at age 14, working on a radio rock show for teenagers. While earning her degree in the television-radio department at Ithaca College, she was an announcer for the College’s television station, WICB, and worked in radio at Rochester’s WBBF. After graduating in 1968, she joined WCBS radio in New York City. She moved to television at KHOU in Houston and in 1972 became the news anchor at KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
In 1977 she joined NBC News as a Washington-based correspondent and anchor. At NBC she delivered the one-minute prime-time news updates during the week, anchored the Saturday edition of the NBC Nightly News, and anchored NBC’s special news service for its television affiliates. In addition, she hosted the PBS documentary series Frontline. Her work was widely respected and won many honors, including an Emmy.
Throughout her career Savitch remained closely involved with her alma mater, returning to Ithaca periodically to teach a minicourse on television news. She gave the main address at the College’s 1979 commencement, at which she was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. In 1980 she was elected to the Ithaca College Board of Trustees.
Savitch died in an automobile accident in 1983.
The Jessica Savitch Distinguished Journalism Lecture Series was established by the Savitch family as a continuing recognition of Jessica Savitch’s pioneering spirit, professional dedication, and overall influence on broadcast journalism.
The Jessica Savitch Communications Scholarship was established through gifts from her family, associates, and friends to support students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications who demonstrate excellence, achievement, and promise in the field of broadcast journalism.
In addition, the Park School’s major television studio is named in honor of Jessica Savitch.