Indiana Broadcast History Archive

Barbara Boyd

Image from WRTV

Barbara Boyd, the first Black woman to report and anchor on TV in Indiana, is remembered for her upbeat style and humor in many of her TV consumer reports. She spent 25 years on the air, ending her career in 1994. Boyd lives in Indianapolis and remains active in her community.

"I always say I was the first Black woman up there, but I ain't the last," Boyd said. "...There's a Black woman anchor on every station in [every] city...And I think I had a little something to do with that."

Clips in this video

Early Life & Influences

Boyd was born on April 27, 1929, and grew up in Evanston, Illinois. This is where she met her future husband, Ted Boyd, who she was married to for 54 years. In 1961, she moved to Indianapolis.

She attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Indiana University, in addition to honorary degrees from Martin University and Vincennes University.

"Life has been an education," Boyd said. "Being a reporter, you just learned so much. I learned something different every day."

Boyd said the first woman who influenced her in journalism was broadcaster Barbara Walters. At the time, there were no Black women in the field.

But originally, Boyd wanted to be a movie star. She would practice tap dancing at her local post office and imagine she was Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire. In addition to tap dancing, Boyd took piano and singing lessons. Boyd said she eventually realized that her strength was her voice.

"I spoke well, I have a nice voice," Boyd said. "That's important in television."

Clips in this video

After having her first child, Boyd decided to go back to work and got a job as a secretary. Eventually, she became a pioneer in broadcast journalism.

Career

Boyd first joined WFBM (now WRTV, Channel 6) in 1969, where she was a consumer reporter. She worked to be personally involved in all her stories, a unique approach to connecting with her audience that not many reporters had done.

"I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it," Boyd said. "I just had different perspectives on life and the way other people live."

She applied that approach to her own mastectomy in the 1970's, delivering a report on the experience from her hospital bed just days after surgery. She said she thought it was important for women to be informed about breast cancer and understand its causes, how to self-examine and what can be done after a diagnosis.

Image from WRTV

WRTV was hesitant to air the story at first, because this was a time when local TV rarely reported on sensitive topics like this one in detail the way Boyd did. After the story aired, Boyd traveled around the country to different radio and TV stations discussing breast cancer.

Boyd said the story was impactful not only for women in general, but specifically for the Black community that is disproportionately affected by cancer and health care inequities.

"It's up to me, as a Black reporter, to tell the story from the Black community," Boyd said. "I think we covered it pretty well."

Clips in this video

Being the first Black female broadcaster in Indiana was huge, Boyd said. Those who underestimated her inspired her to work harder. She utilized her consumer beat to connect with community members and loosen tensions between Black and white people to the best of her ability, according to WRTV.

Boyd had a stint as the noon news anchor from 1981 to 1984. She said she felt it was unfair when she was shifted off that position. But she didn't want to work at any other station, even when Channel 13 pursued her.

Boyd said her family and local community was especially supportive of her career. She worked hard to make them proud and be successful.

"I'm not about to let them down," she said. "I feel good that I made some kind of positive impression on the community."

Boyd worked at WRTV, Channel 6, for 25 years. She was 65 years old when she left and retired.

"I enjoyed the experience," she said. "I did bring something to the Black community that wasn't given to them before and because of that, management saw fit to hire other Black females not only for reporting but for anchoring as well."

Clips in this video

Awards

Boyd has a number of accomplishments, awards and recognitions. She was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2005. She was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, the national and local Associations of Black Journalists Hall of Fame and Madam C. J. Walker Hall of Fame.

Image from WRTV

Boyd is featured in History Makers, a video oral history interview that is housed in the Library of Congress. She was named Sagamore of the Wabash, which is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a person by the Governor of Indiana. Additionally, she was listed as a "Legend" in Who's Who in Black Indianapolis.

Notably, Body was also named Woman of the Year by the American Cancer Society for her personal story about having a mastectomy.

Personal Life

Boyd and her husband had three kids, Karen, Brian and Darren. Boyd also has 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

Boyd enjoys staying involved in community activities. She currently serves on the Leadership Advisory Council of the United Negro College Fund, which she hosted the telethon for during 17 years of her career.

She also serves on the Indiana Children's Wish Fund board and March of Dimes. Boyd is a charter member of the Circle City Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, Silhouettes, Dialogue and Habitat for Humanity. Boyd was also a juror for Truly Moving Pictures during the Heartland Film Festival. She has appeared in the movies "Just Passin' Through" and "Best of the Best 3."

Her favorite activities include playing bridge, golfing, gardening, reading and taking Zumba lessons. Boyd also attends Tabernacle Presbyterian Church where she previously served as a deacon and usher.

Barbara Boyd's full Oral History can be viewed below.


February 2024

Written by Luzane Draughon. Edited and Archived by Cooper Hudson.

Information from Barbara Boyd, Indiana Broadcast Pioneers, WRTV and "In the Public Interest"

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