PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- October 12 was "Lynne Hayes-Freeland Day" in the City of Pittsburgh. October 26 was "Lynne Hayes-Freeland Day" in Allegheny County. And today is "Lynne Hayes-Freeland Day" here at KDKA-TV.
Since 1976, Lynne Hayes-Freeland has built a career as one of Pittsburgh's best and most respected broadcasters. But now, our colleague and friend says it's time to retire.
After 45 years in television and radio, it's hard to imagine Lynne's broadcasting career might never have happened.
She was an accounting major at Duquesne University but wasn't really into it. Then, she started dating a guy who worked at the campus radio station.
"I started hanging out at the radio station with him and all of sudden this light goes off and it's like, 'OK, maybe I can't keep up with the numbers, but this? This I can do.' So I literally changed my major from hanging out at the radio station," said Lynne.
WATCH: Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reflects On Career
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Lynne began working at WDUQ while she was in college, then got a job at KDKA-AM as the producer of The Roy Fox Show.
In 1977, Lynne transition to television, when she was hired at KDKA-TV as a production assistant for "Evening Magazine".
After several years on that show, Lynne was ready for something else.
So she made a move to KDKA-TV's programming department and began producing and directing several of the station's public affairs shows. She was one of the first female directors, if not the first, at KDKA-TV.
Among the shows she produced and directed was a show called "Vibrations".
"Bev Smith was the host when I took over producing the show. Then Dorothy Tucker came on as host. Eventually, Dorothy had an opportunity to go back home to WBBM-TV in Chicago, and so when I went to talk to the General Manager he said basically, 'No one knows this show better than you. Why don't you host it?'", Lynne recalled.
So she did! And after a few years of her hosting the show, the station decided to change the name to "The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show".
WATCH: Full Interview With Lynne Hayes-Freeland
In the nearly 40 years that Lynne has hosted the show, she has interviewed countless guests, including history makers like Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks, controversial figures like Louis Farrakhan, celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and legendary Pittsburghers like August Wilson and Billy Eckstine.
The show also focused on serious topics like the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and more recently, the health disparity for African-Americans, which has long been an issue but has been made more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, overall, the show has always retained the original focus from when "Vibrations" began in the late 1960s, to serve as a beacon within and for Pittsburgh's African-American community.
By the late 1980s, local television stations were starting to phase out their programming departments, including KDKA-TV.
That's when Lynne was offered the opportunity to move into the news department, and her reporting career was born.
During her 30 years as a news reporter, Lynne covered it all.
Lynne has also been involved in some of KDKA-TV's most treasured traditions, including our annual Children's Hospital Free Care Fund Benefit Show, which she produced for several years and has also helped host.
And for many years she was the driving force behind KDKA-TV's "Waiting Child" segments.
70% of the children featured in those segments were adopted, something in which Lynne is especially proud.
"Sometimes you'd talk to these kids and you'd say 'Well what's the one thing you really want?' And they'd say something as basic as 'I just wanna feel loved. I just wanna feel like I belong.' To be able to help that happen is an unbelievable feeling," said Lynne.
In 2019, Lynne left daily television reporting and returned to her roots in radio, becoming the first African-American female radio host in the history of KDKA-AM.
But now, after 45 years, Lynne has decided it's time to turn off the microphone full-time, although she'll continue to be a part of a few things at KDKA NewsRadio and KDKA-TV because the idea of saying "goodbye" isn't so simple.
"You know it's hard when I think about the fact that I've walked through the doors of this building every day for 40 plus years. This is where I grew up. I started as a kid here, ya know? I got married. I had kids. I got divorced. I did everything here, and so the people here become your family," said Lynne.
Lynne's full farewell interview will air as a one-hour special on CBSN Pittsburgh Friday night, October 29th, at 8 PM.
The final episode of "The Lynne Hayes-Freeland Show" will air Sunday morning, October 31st, at 11:00 a.m. on Pittsburgh's CW and again at 7:00 p.m Sunday on CBSN Pittsburgh.
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