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The History of Women in Media

In 1971, the Baton Rouge chapter was chartered by the national organization American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT). Membership of AWRT Baton Rouge consisted of 20 to 30 professional women in Radio and Television. The national organization had strict bylaws, including that one had to be directly involved in media to become a member, and her membership had to be reviewed and approved by the national office. Some of the original members were Jean Wheeler (WBRZ on-air personality), Pat Cheramie (WBRZ), Margaret Webb (Benjamin Advertising) and Lenore Usher (Benjamin Advertising). The organization was affectionately referred to by members as “Awort” and according to the bylaws, 90% of the dues went to the national organization.

By the time the Baton Rouge chapter broke away from AWRT, the membership dues had reached over $200 annually. Each chapter was required to pay AWRT membership dues and educational fund dues. The AWRT Baton Rouge chapter spent a lot of time and energy fundraising which began to take away focus from local programs and membership. Consequently, as the AWRT National dues proved too high for individuals to pay, some members companies declined to pay for memberships for the same reason. The advantage to being affiliated with AWRT’s national organization was a monthly newsletter, and an annual national convention in a major city with nationally recognized speakers, and regional conventions. The chapter paid for the president to attend the national convention, but members were responsible for paying for and attending their own regional conventions. The national conventions were impressive - TV personalities, like Barbara Walters and Washington politicians were selected to speak. Smaller regional conventions were more casual and members were able to get to know women from other chapters and created more communication within the region.

As national dues continued to rise, the Baton Rouge chapter membership began to dwindle to less than a dozen members. In 1990, under the leadership of president Allegra Neville (WLPB), the Baton Rouge chapter decided to drop its AWRT national affiliation and form a separate, local organization. Women in Media is based on the same principals as AWRT but with more informal membership requirements. And because of the secession, Women in Media has been able to keep all funds raised to the local market thus benefitting our community.

The Jean Wheeler Scholarship is a $1,000 stipend awarded annually to a woman, a senior in college studying in the field of Journalism/Mass Communication; Theater; or a related media field. The Wilda Kovacs Award was created to recognize a Women In Media member who has contributed to the community both personally and professionally. Past recipients are Joyce Harvey, Terry Serio, Lane Barry, Saundra Lane, Laurie Hardison, Holly Andrews, Michell Rabalais, Jodi Carson and Julie Arinder. The Wanda Horn Award is a lifetime achievement award presented at the WIM “Awards of Excellence” luncheon, and past recipients include Diane Allen, Chris Russo Love, Dorcas Brown and Pat Hanchey. WIM’s annual “Attire for Hire” clothing collection benefits organizations like Cenikor, the Bishop Ott Shelter, Women’s Community Rehab Center and the Faith Family Outreach Center.

Benefits of Women In Media membership include affiliation with a professional organization that presents programs that promote its members personally and professionally, and networking. The WIM board is a close-knit team working toward one goal, to further the interest and success of the membership of Women in Media.

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Who, What, When & Where on WIM

WHO Women In Media is a professional women’s organization with membership consisting of a diverse group of women in all facets of Baton Rouge media business including Radio, Television, Marketing, Public Relations and Promotions.

WHAT Women In Media greatest asset is the effectiveness of organizational networking. The organization holds an annual Awards of Excellence luncheon, which honors our professional peers, and endows a $1,000 scholarship annually to a senior in college studying in the field of Journalism/Mass Communication; Theater; or a related media field.

WHEN WIM luncheon meetings take place on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at Galatoire's Bistro located on Perkins Road at Acadian Thruway. Networking begins at 11:30 am, and the luncheon begins promptly at noon. Each regular luncheon includes a local, regional or national speaker on a variety of subjects.

WHY WIM meetings cover everything from business etiquette to marketing success stories, to nationally recognized speaker that keep us on the edge of our seats.

Benefits of Women In Media membership include affiliation with a professional organization that presents programs that promote its members personally and professionally, and networking. The WIM board is a close-knit team working toward one goal, to further the interest and success of the membership of Women in Media.


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