Written by Administrator
Tuesday, 18 November 2008 01:53
Donna Speziale Richards became a pioneer in Syracuse broadcasting when WHEN radio named her Syracuse's first woman news director at a commercial station.
Back when no one was keeping score, women rarely became the boss. But, it just seemed logical back in 1986 that the most qualified person in the newsroom should be promoted to news director.
Donna was was a life resident of the Syracuse area. She graduated from Solvay High School in 1976 and obtained her journalism degree from Onondaga Community College.
Her first reporting job was at WFBL. Donna then moved to WHEN in 1982, where she was promoted to news director four years later.
At WHEN, she covered the 1984 and 1988 Democratic National Conventions in San Francisco and Atlanta. She received Professional Recognition Awards from the Syracuse Press Club for spot news coverage (Sheriff's deputy shot and killed) and best regularly scheduled local newscast (Former Mayor Lee Alexander indicted).
Donna made the transition to television, joining WTVH as a reporter in December 1988. One of her earliest television assignments placed her in the team of reporters covering the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. She shared an Emmy award for her work. She also won awards from the Associated Press Broadcasters Association and the NYS Broadcasters Association.
Donna was a member of the Syracuse Press Club and the Radio-Television News Directors Association.
After almost two decades in broadcast news, she made a career move in 1998, becoming a public relations specialist for the Small Business Administration. Donna’s devotion to the community in which she was born, raised and worked influenced her decision to move to the SBA. There she felt she could help many of the small local businesses on which she often reported.
We’ll never know where her career would have taken her. Donna died suddenly of a brain aneurysm on May 27, 2001, while visiting her brother in Florida. On September 6th of that year, New York Congressman James T. Walsh read a tribute to Donna on the floor of the US House of Representatives. This tribute has been recorded in the Library of Congress.
Donna’s former boss and close friend Bill Carey helped establish the Donna Speziale Richards Memorial Endowed Scholarship at Onondaga Community College in her memory. The award is for freshman who come to OCC directly from high school and enroll full time in the Electronic Media Communications program. The Syracuse Press Club also honored Donna when it presented its 2002 scholarships in her memory.