The pioneering TV news executive caps a nearly five-decade broadcasting career including 25 years at helm of Hearst’s ABC affiliate in Albuquerque.
Mary Lynn Roper, an iconic leader in New Mexico broadcasting, has announced her retirement, effective this fall, from her role as president and general manager of KOAT, the Hearst Television ABC affiliate in the Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M., market (DMA 46). The move caps a 48-year career in broadcasting, the last 25 of which as KOAT’s general manager.
“Throughout her career, Mary Lynn has exemplified the attributes of a top local broadcaster,” said Hearst Television President Jordan Wertlieb. “She has devoted unwavering attention to KOAT’s news brand and commitment to community service and, in the process, became one of New Mexico’s leading civic leaders. She also helped pave the way for women leaders in television journalism. We could not be more proud of her service and dedication, not only to Hearst Television but to the people of New Mexico.”
Since beginning at KOAT in 1977, Roper served in a variety of positions, including news director, producer, reporter and photographer — and is familiar to viewers from her years anchoring the station’s Action 7 newscasts.
Roper commented: “My greatest joy and accomplishment is having had the honor of proudly serving with the talented and dedicated men and women of KOAT who are truly committed to informing New Mexicans and serving our community.”
Roper began her broadcasting career in 1970 at KRTN-AM in her hometown of Raton, N.M. After working at an all-news radio station in Albuquerque, she joined KOAT as a photographer/reporter, ascending within a few years to become New Mexico’s first female co-anchor as well as part of the state’s first weeknight co-anchor team; she later added the duties of executive producer.
She earned an Investigative Reporters and Editors award for coverage and subsequent follow-up reporting on the 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary riot in which 33 inmates were killed.
In 1985, Roper became New Mexico’s first female TV news director. The strength of KOAT’s news ratings frequently ranked it the No. 1 ABC affiliate in the nation. She also launched the enduring KOATs for Kids clothing drive which today collects and distributes 10,000 coats annually to needy children throughout the state. Following the success of that program, she started “School Supply” to assist New Mexico schools and their young students.
After five years as news director, then-KOAT parent Pulitzer Broadcasting promoted Roper to vice president of news, helping supervise newsroom operations at nine stations across the country. She returned to KOAT in 1993 as general manager.
During Roper’s tenure as general manager, KOAT further distinguished itself by its journalism and community service.
The station became viewers’ consistent destination for coverage of Albuquerque’s popular annual Balloon Fiesta, and its news team earned a national Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, as well as multiple regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and Emmys, and New Mexico Broadcasters Association Station of the Year honors.
The station also earned a National Association of Broadcasters award in the category of Public Service Campaign for Children for its various efforts including KOATs for Kids, School Supply and its children’s-immunization campaign, Shots for Tots.
In 2005 Roper was inducted into the New Mexico Broadcasters Hall of Fame; in 2008 she was named New Mexico Broadcaster of the Year; and in 2013 she received an American Advertising Federation of New Mexico Silver Medal.
Roper currently serves on the board of Foundation for Open Government, a nonprofit organization of journalists and First Amendment attorneys working to ensure adherence to New Mexico laws governing public-record access and legislative and regulatory transparency. She also serves on the United Way Mission Families Council and on the New Mexico Broadcasters Association board.