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Betty Endicott: The Trailblazing News Director Who Launched Brian Williams’ Career

In the debut episode of mediabistroTV’s “My First Big Break,” TV news luminary Brian Williams revealed that he owes much of his success to Betty Endicott, who gave him a shot as a reporter with WTTG in the early 80s.

Williams, who worked as a chyron operator for WTTG before being tapped for an on-air job, recalled that Endicott made “what might have been the last gut call in television.”

So who is Betty Endicott?

Endicott began her broadcasting career as a reporter for KSTP in Minneapolis-St. Paul, before moving on to WRC in Washington, D.C.

After covering a time of upheaval in Washington, from the civil rights movement to antiwar demonstrations, Endicott eventually left WRC in 1980 to become news director at WDVM (now WUSA), making her the first woman to hold that position in the market.

“We used to say you used to be able to count women’s news directors on one mitten, and now you can count them on a glove,” Endicott told the Washington Post in a 1987 interview, recalling her time as one of the country’s few female news directors.

In 1982 Endicott jumped to WTTG, where she would eventually befriend the young Brian Williams.

While at WTTG–an independent station before becoming a Fox O&O in 1986–Endicott oversaw a news team that, in addition to having Williams, included Maury Povich, who anchored the station’s evening newscasts.  She took her strong news team and made WTTG the No. 1-ranked independent station in the country–a feat that got her promoted to general manager when Fox took over the station.

“I certainly never thought I’d be general manager. That was not in my goals,” Endicott told the Post, following her promotion.  “I just want to stay here for a while and make this the best television station in Washington. Competition is real good here, and I like that.”

After making WTTG a top station in D.C. and launching Williams on a path to become the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” Endicott died in 1989 following a battle with cancer.

Here’s Williams recounting Endicott’s imprint on his career…

To keep updated on future episodes of “My First Big Break,” subscribe to mediabistroTV’s YouTube channel.

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