Jane Irving Tillman
Class of 1969
Jane Tillman Irving is a veteran radio newscaster whose mellifluous tones have enriched broadcasts ever since she poked her head through the door at WCCR, the College’s radio station. She has been a prize-winning staffer with WCBS 880 for many years, as a street reporter and as a news writer, and, during a career that began in the early 1970s, she has also been heard on ABC News One, WNYC and WLIB.
She was born and raised in the Hamilton Heights section of Manhattan, not far from the uptown campus, and remembers playing in Jasper Oval and being taken to concerts at Lewisohn Stadium by her mother while still a toddler. She attended Hunter College High School before entering the College, where she became managing editor of Tech News but also developed a strong interest in radio. On WCCR, she was a news broadcaster, a deejay and an announcer. While a student, it was a serendipitous encounter on the City College campus that proved pivotal in jump-starting Tillman Irving’s career. It was 1969, just weeks before her graduation, and a fire had broken out in Finley Student Center, where Tech News had an office. She rushed to the scene. “My newspaper is in that building and I have to get on campus,” she told a security guard, who refused to let her pass. Suddenly, a voice said, “You should have said you were with me.” It was Ed Bradley, who was then at WCBS Radio before going on to national prominence. Bradley wound up telling Tillman Irving about Community News Service (CNS), a regional wire service that was born after a report by the Kerner Commission on Civil Disorders concluded, among other things, that mainstream media was neglecting proper coverage of minority communities. After taking the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course at Harvard, a graduate level program, Tillman Irving worked at CNS for a year, covering Harlem and the East Side. The next two years were at WWRL, a black-oriented radio station, where she wrote hourly five-minute newscasts and learned her craft.
In 1972, she joined the all-news WCBS 880 and worked there until 1986, her voice becoming ever more familiar to listeners all over town. She was a street reporter who seemed to turn up on almost every major news story: the New York City fiscal crisis, two Democratic National Conventions, local politics, education, culture, crime. She was also an anchor, and moderated, produced, wrote and narrated a weekly feature called “Perspective,” a program that examined minority and urban affairs.
Her 14 years on the street and in the studio led to a three-year stint with WCBS-TV in New York, where she was on general assignment, specializing in education. Later, she freelanced stories for ABC News One as a television correspondent for network news syndication. Her career path took her back to radio, however, and from 1993 to 1995 she was guest host of “On the Media” and “New York Beat,” a call-in show, both on WNYC. From 1998 to 2000, she was anchor of a daily Internet news broadcast for physicians for WebMD of Atlanta. Finally, she returned to WCBS 880, primarily as a news writer.
She has also been a frequent talk show host on WLIB, for which she also covered the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 1996. Also in her résumé are teaching assignments: from 1990 to 1996, as an assistant professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, at CCNY, and at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Under the auspices of the United States Information Agency, she was sent to address broadcast journalists in Macedonia and in New Zealand.
In 2006, the College presented her with a Townsend Harris Medal. In 2012, she shared a New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Award. In 2013, she won The Rev. Mychal Judge Heart of New York Award given by The New York Press Club “for reporting that is most complimentary of New York City.”