MA '89, Speech and Interpersonal Communications
Kathy Novak Crosson landed her first job in radio the very same day she graduated from Manhattanville College with a degree in English Lit. "It was 1970," she remembers, "and I'd befriended a couple called the Fitzgeralds, who had a talk radio program on WOR." Novak Crosson visited the couple at the station to ask for some career advice – and they put her on the air as their co-host for four years. After that baptism by fire, Novak Crosson decided to work behind the scenes, producing talk radio for the station. In 1979 she once again became an on-air co-host, this time for the station's afternoon drive time show called "PM New York," where Novak Crosson reviewed movies and interviewed celebrities. This program solidified her reputation and in 1984 she was rewarded by WABC radio, who hired her to create her own show, "The Kathy Novak Program."
"The Kathy Novak Program" was a success and would run for four years. It gave Novak Crosson the opportunity to do serious, hard news interviews with such New York dignitaries as Governor Mario Cuomo and John Cardinal O'Connor. But even with all her experience, Novak Crosson felt she wanted to pursue a degree in speech communications. "Because of my work in radio," she explains, "I'd become fascinated by the power of the spoken word. I wanted to understand this better so that I could better map out what I wanted to do with my future." She enrolled part time in NYU's master’s program in speech communications while she continued to produce and appear on-air at WABC. When she graduated in 1989, Novak Crosson was the sole valedictorian speaker at her graduation ceremony, where she gave a speech on the power of the spoken word.
But after leaving school and once again turning her attention fully to her work in radio, Novak Crosson realized a discouraging fact: radio had begun to change. A combative style was taking over the airwaves – characterized by personalities like Rush Limbaugh – and the style made Novak Crosson uncomfortable. She ended her program and left radio completely. For the next 10 years she would work in public television, producing for Channel Thirteen. At the station she collaborated with acclaimed television journalists Charlie Rose and Bill Moyers, but she also produced live, town meeting type specials that focused on subjects such as children's health and drug addiction. Three such broadcasts were nominated for Emmy Awards. Her special on women in business, "Women Inc.," garnered Novak Crosson a "Gracie," an award that salutes women's issues in television.
Today Novak Crosson still occasionally produces for Channel Thirteen, but most of her time is taken up with raising a seven-year-old daughter and teaching public speaking at NYU in the department where she received her M.A. She realizes that "teaching public speaking can seem antiquated given the extreme electronic environment in which we live today." But she maintains that students going into the work force are still called upon to get up in front of people and speak. "It's a skill that will always be needed, no matter what technology comes up with next."