Women's History Month
March 1st through March 31st
Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s contributions to history, culture and society and has been observed annually in the month of March in the United States since 1987.
"Honoring Lowcountry Women Pioneers in Media"
Charleston, South Carolina
Cheryl Harleston - Hamilton
Audreyole McCants Parker
Ruth D. Edwards, Ph.D.
Ruth graduated from Johnson C. Smith University with her BA in Radio & Television Communications. She was part of the inaugural team of students who launched WJCS-FM, the campus radio station at Johnson C. Smith University. Her broadcast television career began at WCCB-TV in Charlotte, NC, a job she began two weeks before her college graduation. Her primary job was in the traffic department, producing the daily log of commercial advertisements and public service announcements for the broadcast engineers. She also operated in-studio cameras for the station’s news, public affairs programs and commercial production.
Two years later, an opportunity to return home to the Lowcountry was one she could not pass up. She accepted a position in WCSC-TV’s traffic and operations department. When the position for Public Affairs Director opened up, the station’s general manager offered her an opportunity, and she took it! For the next 8 years Ruth learned everything about studio production, producing an on-air show, giving cues and hosting a live broadcast. She cut her teeth producing segment pieces for the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, co-producing the station’s Midday talk show and producing/hosting her own weekly show. She learned to do on-air work and take cues from the camera operators as producer/host for the live broadcast of Woman’s Place, soon renamed Carolina Woman, and the pre-recorded Take Five, a quarterly news magazine. It was in these productions that she learned to shoot a story, come back and edit tapes, monitor audio and select “b-roll” video to enhance the piece. All these skills would come in handy when the station agreed to be the local broadcast station for the Lou Rawls Parade of Stars, and she was tapped to be the producer and co-host.
When Carolina Woman was abruptly cancelled, Ruth took stock of where she was what she had learned and considered, “What’s next?” She wanted to produce documentaries and station heads didn’t support this notion; she was told she “didn’t have the skills” to do that. After 12 years in broadcasting, 9 of them at WCSC-TV, Channel 5, she realized this was it…the end of the line. She decided this was a good time to go back to school and earn her master’s degree. Two years after leaving Channel 5, Ruth was a Graduate Dean’s Fellow graduating with dual degrees: Master of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in Telecommunications. She accepted a position at Maritz Communications Company’s newly formed Performance Improvement Division in Fenton, MO. Dr. Edwards has worked as an adjunct professor at several schools in St. Louis and Orlando. Today she is Director of Education at the Winter Park Public Library in Winter Park, Florida.
Cheryl Elizabeth Hamilton (Harleston) was the first Black Television News personality in the Charleston area. Ms. Hamilton was hired by WCIV Channel 4 in 1968 after completing a training program at WMAL-TV in Washington, D.C.
She credits her media career to civil rights leaders Marian Berry and Walter Fauntroy and says she benefited from the challenges these brave men faced. The civil rights movement in Washington D.C. paved the way for Cheryl to train in television news and public affairs programming which in turn led her to Channel 4 in Mt. Pleasant. While, white trainees from WMAL were temporally housed, Cheryl says she was not allowed to live in Mt. Pleasant. She crossed the narrow 2-lane Grace Bridge twice each day.
From1968 until 1974 Cheryl was a Reporter- Anchorwoman and was quickly promoted to Public Affairs Director at WCIV. She said those were exciting times especially when she got the opportunity to interview Martin Luther King, Senior and Coretta Scott King, who only allowed Cheryl (the only Black reporter), to interview them at the Charleston airport. As a result Cheryl was seen on all three local television stations that night. She held three microphones in her hand.
Hamilton (Harleston) says her favorite interview was with Muhammad Ali, who went into the Francis Marion Hotel kitchen to talk with "his people". She also spoke with Nikki Giovanna, and various notables in government and business.
Cheryl reported and filmed everything from an airplane crash to exposing conditions blacks lived in on Johns Island, all in high heels and a business suit. This attire was required by management during those days. Cheryl made up for this dress code, when she became the host of the "Charleston Today” and "Sunday Night” talk shows. A Charleston clothier loaned her suits and dresses to wear in exchange for a mention on her shows.
Cheryl remembers that some folks didn’t want her on television and she was told that white viewers would call the station and complain but overall she enjoyed her time at Channel 4. Cheryl is currently the President of CHH Communications, a public and media relations consulting business. Cheryl says she is truly blessed for her God given opportunities, skills and imagination.
Joan Gladden Mack
Joan Gladden Mack is among the black women in the early 70’s who successfully negotiated the unfamiliar terrain in local broadcasting and earned the reputation as a “trailblazer.” Her broadcasting career began in June 1972 when the general manager of WCSC TV Channel 5 hired her as a Public Service Director and Co-Host of a live morning talk show called “Kaleidoscope.” Soon after that, Joan was hosting a popular weekly show called “Black Showcase” which focused on the talents of black South Carolinians. Once the doors were opened to these opportunities, Joan Mack developed a driving spirit and began to blaze a trail in broadcast journalism for other women to follow.
Joan says that “Broadcasting came to her, she didn’t go to it.” When the opportunity came, she had graduated from college with a Bachelor of Science Degree -not journalism. In the early 1970’s FCC licensing required that women be on staff and television stations around the country were pressured to hire minority women as reporters and anchors. Charleston’s black community leaders pressed Channel 5 to hire blacks for on-air positions. They told Joan about an opening at the station and encouraged her to apply for the job. With much hesitation, Joan went to the station, filled out an application, had an interview, an on-camera audition and in three days, she was hired.
In 1979 after seven successful years at Channel 5, Joan was recruited by the station manager at WCBD TV Channel 2 to join their news team as a reporter. In 1981, Joan made history by becoming the first black female in South Carolina to anchor a prime-time newscast. She became a local celebrity winning numerous awards and recognition for outstanding work. Joan says one of the many highlights of her career at Channel 2 was being assigned to cover a story at the White House in 1979 when Charleston Civil Rights Activist, Septima P. Clark, was presented a “Living Legacy Award” by President Jimmy Carter. This assignment gave Joan the opportunity to be among network reporters in the White House Press Room, which was a rare opportunity for journalists of color.
Joan left Channel 2 in 1985 to accept a job at the College of Charleston as Director of Public Information. And as fate would have it, in 1995, her career in broadcasting continued when SCETV offered the College a 30-minutes time slot for a weekly radio show. That’s when “Conversations with Joan” was born. Joan hosted and produced the show which aired statewide on ETV radio stations for fifteen years. During that time, Joan produced more than 800 shows and interviewed over 1600 national, regional and local personalities on a variety of topics. Her guests included Michelle Obama and Ann Romney.
While at the College, Joan received a Southern Regional Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Science for Outstanding Achievement in Television Programming in Education.
Loretta Mouzon is a native of Charleston and the youngest child of Matthew and Thomasine Mouzon. She attended Calvary Kindergarten and 1st grade, Rhett Elementary School and is a proud graduate of Burke High School. After graduation she attended Spelman College in Atlanta where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. While working as the first full-time African American reporter at WCSC TV(Channel 5) she earned her Master’s degree (M.Ed) degree at the Citadel.
Loretta anchored the station’s Sunday Night News casts and the CBS Morning News local cut-ins. In addition to often being the first to report breaking news stories, Loretta was the ‘first’ in a number of other ways while working at Live 5 News.
She was the first woman, the first black and the first person to ever be named Assistant News Director at Channel 5.
She was the first to ever report “LIVE” using the station’s brand-new satellite truck after which the name LIVE 5 NEWS became the station’s handle.
She was the first local TV reporter to cover a presidential inauguration – that of President Jimmy Carter.
She was also the first local reporter to be invited to the White House for media opportunities with President Carter and some of his Cabinet Secretaries.
Loretta was the first local television reporter to be honored with the South Carolina Chapters of Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists ‘By-Liner Award’ for outstanding broadcast journalism.
After 7 years at Channel 5, Loretta made the difficult decision to leave her beloved family and city and moved to Columbus, Ohio giving up on-air reporting to become a newscast producer – jobs that traditionally were held by white men who were the power-brokers in newsrooms.
Loretta was quickly hired away by the competition’s sister station in Indianapolis, Indiana as a producer. She rose through the ranks to become Executive News Producer.
Audreyole McCants Parker
Audreyole McCants Parker’s love for journalism began while writing articles for the Burke High School newspaper. Upon graduation from Burke, she entered the University of South Carolina's School of Journalism. Students at the university radio station nicknamed her "Drelle" and it stuck! During Drelle's sophomore year at Carolina a professor recommended her for a job at the SC Educational Radio Network in Columbia. After earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in broadcast journalism in 1975, Educational Radio transferred Drelle to Charleston to produce and host its first “live" broadcasts from WSCI FM. While working at WSCI, Drelle took a second job at WTMA Radio to hone her news reporting skills.
About three years later WIS Radio recruited Drelle to join their news team in Columbia, SC as a reporter and weekend news anchor. Her first television job was in Beaufort, SC where Drelle produced and anchored a half hour newscast at WJWJ-TV. Nine months into that job, WCIV-TV Channel 4 in Mt. Pleasant, SC hired her as its Public Affairs Director. It wasn't long before the station's news director convinced her to join the news team. In 1981 Drelle’s final broadcasting job was at another local station, WCBD-TV Channel 2. Drelle was hired as a news reporter and within months was promoted to Assignment Editor. She also worked as Channel 2's early morning and weekend news anchor and weekend news producer.
Throughout her years Drelle was active in the community and received several awards and citations. Drelle took a hiatus in 1987 to be a stay at home Mom. When she returned to the workforce, she joined O'Shaughnessy Real Estate. She was named "Rookie of the Year" for 1990.