Class of 1974
Silvia Gambardella has been reporting, writing and producing hard-hitting news stories, investigative reports and documentaries from one end of the nation to the other for more than three decades.
Since 2009, she has been the senior special projects producer at WTVD-TV, the ABC network station in Raleigh, N.C., where she investigates local news and contributes stories to “Good Morning America,” “20/20,” “Nightline” and “ABC World News.”
A native of Queens, Gambardella was born in 1952 and attended Bayside High School. She entered City College in 1970 and joined The Campus as a reporter, later as its features editor. After CCNY, she got a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Her stops have included television newsrooms in Detroit; Providence, R.I.; Scranton, Pa.; Minneapolis; and Los Angeles. In between, she took a two-year hiatus from television to work as Director of Community Relations for the New York City Fire Department during the administration of Mayor Ed Koch.
In Minneapolis, Gambardella’s work as an investigative consumer reporter earned her the 1992 Distinguished Service Award of the Consumer Federation of America. It also cost the journalist her job. While a consumer reporter for WCCO-TV, a CBS affiliate with a reputation for tough but fair consumer reporting, she did two pieces that earned her and the station the enmity of local auto dealers. She had tracked an unhappy purchaser of a Ford automobile through an encounter with the state’s “lemon law,” and she told viewers how to save money when negotiating the price of a new car. Recapping the episode, an article in the American Journalism Review in 1991 said WCCO attempted to mollify dealers by setting up meetings with local dealers to improve communications, but Gambardella then aired two other pieces, one on purchasing used cars from rental companies and another on defective Chevy Lumina seatbelts. The television station fired her. Outraged colleagues and viewers rallied around Gambardella in a show of support for her and the principle that a TV station’s sales division should not dictate newsroom policy. Stung by the criticism, the station reinstated Gambardella with a two-year contract but stifled her investigative work.
Her story later became the subject of an ABC “Prime Time Live” report about TV news going soft to avoid offending advertisers. Gambardella turned the experience into a screenplay and when WCCO did not renew her contract two years later, she moved to California, producing documentaries and reporting for KCAL-TV, and becoming a national investigative reporter for a new syndicated show called “The Crusaders.” The show was cancelled after a year. From 2001 to 2007, Gambardella was senior vice president of documentaries at Paulist Productions, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit and media arm of the Roman Catholic religious order. In the summer of 2004, she took time off to visit Guatemala, where she produced a special for the National Geographic Channel on scientific efforts to document war crimes.
Gambardella has written and produced for CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS and the cable networks CNN, MSNBC, We tv, TruTV, A&E, E!, The History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic Channel, HDnet, The Learning Channel and Oxygen. In 2005, she created, wrote and produced the critically acclaimed prison series “Lockup” for MSNBC.
Since 2007, she has been an independent producer under the banner of her own company, Rosey Girl Productions, specializing in true crime programming.