andrea roane: a media pioneer
Andrea Roane is a media jewel and a class act television personality in the Washington Metropolitan area. Her 37 years of stellar achievements in television media, her commitment to women’s health issues as well as her contributions to the community at large is an inspiration for many generations of women to look up to.
Andrea, a native of New Orleans, was raised in a typical middle-class family with her parents and her younger brother, Fredric Jr., while her maternal and paternal grandparents lived close by. Her late father, Frederic, retired as a supervisor at AMTRAK, and her
mother, Ethel, taught second grade in the parochial public school system in New Orleans. Later, Andrea earned her undergraduate degree in secondary education and her graduate degree in drama and communication from Louisiana State University, now known as the University of New Orleans.
Although she grew up in the segregated South, she says, “I was spared the ugliness of Jim Crow, thanks to my dad’s job with the railroad. While we were denied entry to restaurants, theaters, parks and swimming pools, I saw all of those things when we traveled outside the South.” She marvels at her travels by train all over the country as an amazing opportunity to see all kinds of people and places as well as a wonderful education.
She reminisces the unforgettable trip with her maternal grandmother, from New Orleans to Chicago, to Portland, across the breathtaking upper North West, and through an excursion trip to Seattle, Washington, crossing the border into British Columbia, Canada and finally to California and the southwestern states.
I saw news as what we needed, wanted and should know. And we worked hard to get all sides to the story
in order to get at the truth.
She is grateful to her parents for her source of inspiration and their good advice. When she was making the leap from the classroom to broadcasting, their support and encouragements were a positive force. “They told me to go for it, you may like it, and my dad advised me to have a backup plan to return to the classroom at my old school, just in case. Luckily I never had to activate my plan B.” Her path to broadcasting has been a series of events and opportunities. As she put it, “I am an accidental journalist.”
Andrea grew up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, the era when television was very different and very white, and she did not have any role models who looked like her, so she never gave media a thought. Instead, she considered clinical psychology and soon switched her major to secondary education. She started teaching in high school and middle school in the New Orleans Public School System. And she loved it.
Andrea’s first formal appearance happened when she was in an administrative position with the New Orleans Public School System. As coordinator of cultural services, she was part of the team that launched the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, the school system’s performing arts high school. They were guests on a public television show. Her appearance caught the attention of Margie Larson, an associate producer at WYES-TV public television in New Orleans, and she was soon recruited to co-host a federally funded show about the New Orleans and Jefferson Parish Public
She started with very little broadcast television experience, but she would later become the programs project director. While at WYES, another great opportunity came her way: to co-host special PBS news segments on the MacNeil Lehrer News Hours, covering the emerging Black Republican Party in the South. And later, covering the Wetlands with the late Jim Lehrer. According to Andrea, “If nothing else had happened in my broadcast careers, these two opportunities would have been enough.” After these two shows, more job offers appeared on the horizon, and eventually Andrea and her husband Michael, a news photographer, moved to Washington, D.C.
She started at WETA (PBS) as host/ moderator for Metro Week in Review. And soon she got the attention of Betty Endicott, the area’s first woman
news director at Channel 9, WUSA. She was hired in August 1981, and the rest would become the history of a woman, three months into motherhood and a promising career with a nearly four decades of burgeoning success and a lifelong relationship with WUSA. During her 37 years of working with WUSA9, she has enjoyed many shows and the people she has worked with, as she often affectionately mentions her favorite segment, co-anchored with Mike Buchanan, on the first 4 p.m. new cast in the DMV.
She speaks kindly and generously of her great team with producer Jack Heinbaugh and writer/guest booker, Janet Terry (“brilliant and with a Rolodex to match”), and editor, Judy Fiterman, with whom they decided the best and most current topics and personalities to bring onto the show, like Scott Turow and David Baldacci, who regularly weighed in on crime stories. Or a quiz with traffic reporter, Stacey Binn, where celebrity
guests such as actor Michael J. Fox, Janet Leigh and Frank Sinatra, Jr. also took part on the set.
Among her other favorites are events she covered with her second and third morning co-anchors, Mike Walters and Mike Hydeck. She
covered the memorable events of the George W. Bush Inauguration with Mike Walters and the Obama Inauguration with Mike Hydeck. She also recalls covering with them the Washington Nationals at RFK, and her solo coverage of the Baltimore Orioles in Cuba. Among dignitaries, Andrea covered Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington during Ronald Reagan’s administration, as the first visit to Washington by Charles and Diana, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and reported on Diana’s solo trip to NYC.