Pioneering Broadcast Journalist Florence Sando Manson Dies at 95

Courtesy of The Weinstein Company

As a producer, host and interviewer, she delivered hard news on the radio and on television in Pittsburgh for almost two decades. Her husband is film executive Arthur Manson.

Florence Sando Manson, a pioneering female newscaster on radio and local television who became a broadcasting legend in Pittsburgh, died Monday at her New York home from complications related to dementia. She was 95.

Survivors include her husband of 60 years, Arthur Manson, a consultant for Harvey and Bob Weinstein since 1990 who before that served as the head of marketing for Warner Bros.

In an era when female broadcasters were expected to keep their shows light, gossipy and frothy, Sando tackled the hard news of the day in a Steel City career that ran from 1941-59.

She produced Women’s Angle, a 15-minute morning radio broadcast that delivered news of the world -- not the typical lowbrow mix of fashion and decorating tips usually dished out to female audiences at the time.

“It was easy when the news was about Madame Chiang Kai-shek or the 10 best-dressed women or Eleanor Roosevelt or [Maine] Sen. Margaret Chase Smith or Oveta Culp Hobby [the first secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare],” Sando told author Lynn Boyd Hinds in the 1995 book Broadcasting the Local News — The Early Years of Pittsburgh’s KDKA-TV.

“But when the story was about some returning prisoners from Indochina or a Supreme Court ruling on desegregation, then I would have to introduce it with some ridiculous little line that seemed to indicate that it related to women, and then I would get into the story as it was.”

She cooperated with government, civic, social and cultural agencies in support of the war effort during World War II and presented stories and interviews that contributed to Pittsburgh’s postwar development.

Later, she married Arthur Manson and hosted The Florence Manson Show on KDKA (the former WDTV, the city’s first television station) from 1957 until 1959, when she and her husband moved to New York. Her shows were committed to public service as well as entertainment.

She interviewed such well-known public figures such as Roosevelt, Danny Kaye and Louis Armstrong, and some of her work can be seen at the Paley Center for Media in New York.

Her pivotal role in television in the years just before the start of the women’s rights movement was noted by author Patricia Bradley in her 2004 book, Mass Media and the Shaping of American Feminism 1963-1975.

Sando was born in 1918 and graduated from Westminster College in 1939. She received her master’s degree in drama from Case Western Reserve the following year.

In New York City, she was active in theater and community affairs. She was a member of the boards of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and Riverdale Neighborhood House and an elder of the Riverdale Presbyterian Church.

In addition to her husband, survivors include her daughter, Cynthia Ann, and her husband, Jeffrey Faville, and their children, James and Catherine; and her son, Anthony, his wife, Angela, and their children, Daniel, William and Timothy.

A private family burial will take place this week, with a memorial set for 11 a.m. on Dec. 7 at Riverdale Presbyterian. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent to the church at 4765 Henry Hudson Parkway West, Bronx, NY 10471.