Birds-I-View: Women in Media
Written by Annamarie Schutt on April 3, 2020
Women have come a long way since the early decades that created gender roles and sexist expectations for women. In most businesses, men used to conquer the field. Fortunately, the strong will of women has changed this and is continuing to do so today. As March is dedicated to celebrating these empowering women, it is an appropriate time to honor women closer to home in the community.
One woman who has been a voice for the Bloomington-Normal community for a long time is WJBC News Director Katherine Murphy. She is live on WJBC everyday as well as being the director for the station.
While a woman news director is much more common in 2020, it was not always this way when Murphy first broke into the business. She witnessed the struggles of being an independent working woman firsthand in the media field.
“When I started in TV back in the ‘90s, it was a very male dominated field, but women were starting to come to the forefront as journalists,” said Murphy.
She knew she wanted to read the news on the radio since she was seven years old. She says her parents thought she was odd for being so fascinated with broadcasters and would listen intently to the news from a young age.
Luckily for Murphy, her high school offered a broadcast program where she had her own weekly TV Show called Suburban Showcase. After high school, she attended Illinois State University where she was able to explore her love for journalism even deeper through working at TV-10 and WZND.
While Murphy was off to a great start working toward a career in broadcast journalism, she did not become a news director without any adversity. As a woman, she came face-to-to face with societal struggles.
One of the obstacles Murphy had to overcome was gaining respect from everyone. “I think the biggest challenge I faced was getting people to take me seriously when I was younger. I didn’t let it stop me though,” said Murphy. “I just worked harder to prove that I could do anything I set my mind to.”
Murphy also added she does not believe she was ever denied a job because she is a woman. She says working for Oprah for six years helped fuel her career as the iconic show host opened doors for her and many other women in broadcasting.
Murphy was not at a loss of words when asked to name a woman she looks up to. In fact, she could not pick just one.
“Of course, there’s Oprah, not only because she was my boss but because of the adversity she faced in starting the business,” she said.
There are also many women she knows more personally that she admires, such as a co-worker she had in Chicago at US*99.
“Her name is Lisa Dent and she’s a powerhouse in broadcasting, amazing mom and all-around great friend,” said Murphy.
Even closer to home, Murphy says her family gives her great strength and support. Two people in particular are her two aunts, Lina and Minnie.
“They are two of the smartest, strongest, funniest and most loving humans walking this planet and I’m so blessed that the universe decided we could all be in the same family,” said Murphy.
One thing Murphy said she wished she knew when breaking into the business was to not give up when someone or something tried to stop her. She said there were some instances that might have been life changing if she stuck with it.
“I hope that every day our listeners learn something new from me – whether it be through a news story or a personal anecdote,” said Murphy.
Murphy is not only the news director of WJBC, but she also anchors the news daily. She is proud to be a voice for the Bloomington-Normal community.
This concludes the March edition of Birds-I-View. Next month will be about e-sports coming to Illinois State University.