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TV executive was role model for women in media

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Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011
 

A television trailblazer who helped break the glass ceiling for women in Pittsburgh broadcasting has died.

Carolyn Wean of Shadyside, who became the first female news director at KDKA-TV in 1977 and went on to become station manager when she was 36, died Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, after a prolonged illness. She was 68.

"She left a real legacy. She was a real pioneer," said Kweilin Nassar, who worked with Wean for KDKA and WQED, Pittsburgh's PBS station. "She was a mentor for a lot of women. ... She was a role model, extraordinarily bright."

During her seven years in Pittsburgh television, Wean served as vice president of production and business development at WQED. She was general manager at another Westinghouse affiliate, KPIX in San Francisco, from 1986-93.

"She was tough, but fair," said Aviva Radbord, a public affairs producer who worked with her at KDKA.

Former KDKA-TV reporter Lynn Sawyer Voelker said Wean was "the brightest woman I know."

"She was the voice of reason in the midst of chaos," said Sawyer Voelker, who was hired away from her job as consumer affairs director at the Better Business Bureau by Wean.

"She said, 'I want you to come in for an audition,' " Sawyer Voelker said. "That's not exactly where I thought I'd be going, but 25 years later ..."

At WQED, Wean steered development of the Doo Wop shows for PBS. They became the largest fundraisers for public television in its history, Nassar said. She was responsible for the launch of "On Q," a daily news magazine show, and the Rick Sebak specials.

"Carolyn was an exceptionally intelligent, enormously successful person who ... broke many glass ceilings," said her stepson, Christopher D. Patterson, of Oakland, Calif. "She redefined the role of women in the workplace."

Wean started her career as a talk show producer at WBZ-TV in Boston in 1970.

Born in Baltimore, she studied history and foreign languages at Washington College in Maryland, and did graduate work in intellectual history at Northeastern University in Boston.

In addition to her stepson Christopher, Wean is survived by her husband, Alan R. Patterson of Pittsburgh and Sausalito, Calif.; her stepchildren, Elizabeth Gerhart of Campbell, Calif., and Alan R. Patterson III of Pittsburgh; sisters, Jean Thompson of Rockledge, Fla., and Gail Wean of Treasure Island, Fla.; and two brothers, David Wean of Westminster, Md., and Stanley Wean of Heathsville, Va.

Arrangements are being handled by Thomas L. Nied Funeral Home, 7441 Washington St., Pittsburgh. A memorial service is being planned.

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