Joan Richman, the first woman to become an executive producer of network news, died on April 2 from lung cancer. She was 64.
Born in St. Louis, Richman graduated from Wellesley College. Determined to work in television, she moved to New York City and took a job as an archivist in the CBS News research library. In 1968, Richman was promoted to a producer position. Working with Walter Cronkite, she covered the first trip to the moon and won two Emmy Awards — one in 1971 for covering Apollo 13 and Apollo 14, and another in 1972 for covering Apollo 15.
Richman spent two years producing the ABC News magazine, “The Reasoner Report,” hosted by Harry Reasoner, then returned to CBS News in 1975 to serve as the executive producer of “CBS Sports Spectacular” and the weekend editions of “CBS Evening News.” It was the first time a woman had reached such a position at the network level.
A no-nonsense journalist with a penchant for smoking packs of Pall Malls, Richman handled election night coverage in 1976, 1978 and 1980. As vice president and director of special events for CBS News, she ran the network’s coverage of major breaking news events from 1981 to 1988. Some of the stories she supervised included the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1982, the U.S. invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Her remaining years were spent teaching media and politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.