Janet Covington, 80, producer at WMAR-TV

May 27, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Janet Covington, a Baltimore television broadcasting pioneer who became a producer and director for the city's oldest station, died of a heart attack May 17 at Charlestown Retirement Community. She was 80 and formerly resided in North Baltimore's Tuscany-Canterbury section.

Born and raised in Catonsville, Janet Lee Baugher was a 1941 graduate of Catonsville High School and earned a bachelor's degree from what is now McDaniel College. She was named a distinguished alumna in 1978.

After working on The Catonsville Shopper publication, she joined the staff of WMAR-TV (Channel 2) in 1948, four months after the station went on the air in the old Sun building at Charles and Baltimore streets.

Mrs. Covington began working as a production assistant on the daily Sports Parade show with Bailey Goss, and later on Youth Speaks with Eleanor Arnett Nash. She produced and directed The Woman's Angle, a midafternoon feature show, and the Christian-Jewish discussion program Faith to Faith.

"She taught me to always take the high road. She was a fabulous human being," said Arnold Kleiner, president and general manager of KABC-TV in Los Angeles and the former general manager of Channel 2.

She also became the station's assistant program director and was its public affairs director from 1975 to 1992, when she retired.

"She was one of the pioneering women in Baltimore broadcasting," said Harry Kakel, production manager at Channel 2. "Her hero was Eleanor Roosevelt, and she patterned herself after the first lady. She felt she should speak out on controversial issues. For some years, she wrote the station's editorials and was its voice."

"She was a founding mother of quality local television," said WMAR reporter Andy Barth. "She was highly principled, tremendously smart and a lot of fun to talk to. She helped make Channel 2 a wonderful place to work."

Mrs. Covington was named Advertising Woman of the Year by the Women's Advertising Club of Baltimore in 1960 and 1973. She was active in the National Conference of Christians and Jews, and served on the board of Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland and the YWCA's executive committee. She was also active in Friends of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Planned Parenthood, Girl Scouts and the Urban League.

She was a founder and past president of the Fuel Fund of Central Maryland, a charity that helps needy families pay heating bills.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. June 12 at Charlestown's Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, 711 Maiden Choice Lane.

Her husband of 47 years, Platt Walker "Bud" Covington, a construction manager, died in 1996. She is survived by nephews and nieces, including Kimberly Baugher of Alexandria, Va., and Mary Kathleen Baugher of Towson, and cousins.

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