The first female TV reporter on the West Coast, Ruth Ashton Taylor has inspired generations of women covering serious news for local and national broadcast outlets.
A graduate of Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, Scripps College and Columbia University’s graduate school of journalism, Taylor started her career with CBS radio in 1944. She subsequently became part of Edward R. Murrow’s celebrated documentary team and was hired in 1951 by KNXT, a Los Angeles TV station that later became KCBS. She retired in 1989.
Taylor has said she was assigned to deliver "the women’s angle" on various stories — a requirement she quickly ignored as she dived into her job. Ultimately specializing in government and politics, she covered a variety of beats.
"Nobody knew what to do with a woman reporter so they let me do what I wanted to do," she said.
She interviewed luminaries such as Jimmy Durante and Jimmy Carter, receiving an Emmy in 1982 for her career achievements and one in 1984 for her coverage of a small plane crashing on a freeway.
Asked about highlights of her career, she unhesitatingly pointed to two that reflect the breadth of her interests.
The first was interviewing Albert Einstein, Glenn Seaborg and Robert Oppenheimer for a piece on atomic science.
The other was a memorial to Armando Quesada, an ex-addict who had straightened himself out and worked to help troubled young people in his neighborhood.
The segment was just two minutes and 35 seconds, she said, "but kids on the Eastside talked to me about it for years.’"