Longtime KDKA Reporter Mary Robb Jackson says she's going to retire at year's end.
Jackson began her career with a five-year stint at WIIC (now WPXI-TV), joined KDKA in 1980 as a general assignment editor. Since then, she has been a weekend anchor, field reporter, host of “Evening Magazine,” and a lifestyles reporter.
In a high-definition profession where women are expected to have perfect hair and never age, Jackson was forthright in her opinion that “for a long time, [only] men could get old on television,” she said with a laugh.
“I have wrinkles and I have gray hair. I am not 25 years old, by a long shot.”
When she began her career in the 1970s, Jackson and colleague Linda Cooper were part of the WIIC studio crew. Ms. Jackson eventually moved in front of the cameras as host of a 6:30 a.m. talk show (“that, thankfully, taped at 4:30 in the afternoon”) and Cooper became a news photographer and editor.
They ran smack into the realities of the era while covering an event at the Duquesne Club, Downtown.
“We get down there and were told, ‘You can’t go in the front door, please go to the service elevator...’ We go up that way and we were being escorted,” she said. “Linda was a statuesque African-American woman, and at one point this guy says to her ‘What’s a nice girl like you doing in a job like that?’
“I didn’t say a thing but Linda takes a couple of beats and tells him, ‘It sure beats pickin’ cotton.’ ”
“I always tell my daughter, ‘You can do anything you want to do.’ It’s not always going to be fair, but’s that’s OK. This job has been a privilege. My feeling is that most people are truly good. I will miss the good people of Western Pennsylvania who have been so good to me all these years.“