Mary Lynn Roper is a pioneer for women in broadcasting in New Mexico. She was the first female television anchor, first female television news director and first female general manager of a television station in New Mexico.
A New Mexico native, Roper started in broadcasting at KRTN radio in Raton, New Mexico in 1970. After moving to Albuquerque, Roper worked in all-news radio before joining KOAT-TV in 1977 as a photographer and reporter. After a brief stop at KOB-TV, Roper returned to KOAT where she became the first female co-anchor in New Mexico Television history.
In addition to her anchor role, Roper became the executive producer for the station’s weeknight newscasts. In 1985, Roper left the anchor desk to become the state’s first female television news director.
KOAT, which was owned by Pulitzer Broadcasting at the time, thrived under Roper’s guidance. During Roper’s tenure at KOAT, newscast ratings were often the highest in the nation among ABC affiliates. Roper also launched KOATs for Kids, an annual drive to collect winter coats for children across New Mexico and launched an annual school supply drive to collect much-needed resources for New Mexico’s classrooms.
After five years leading the newsroom in New Mexico, Roper was promoted to vice president of news at Pulitzer Broadcasting’s corporate offices in St. Louis. While there, Roper worked with nine newsrooms throughout the company.
In 1993, Roper returned to KOAT where she became the state’s first female general manager of a television station. Roper spent 48 years in broadcasting before retiring in 2018. An impressive 25 years of that career was spent as general manager at KOAT.
Among Roper’s accolades is an Investigative Reporters and Editor award for her reporting during the 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary riot. Under her leadership, KOAT won a National Association of Broadcasters award for public service campaign for the coat and school supply drives, and a campaign to help boost child immunization rates. In addition to her induction into the Silver Circle, in 2005 and again in 2019, Roper was inducted into the New Mexico Broadcasters Hall of Fame.