Hall of Fame: 2009

Sonya Hamlin

Sonya Hamlin spent almost twenty years on Boston television. She swept aside previous paradigms of “women’s programming” with her formidable intellect, her extraordinary sensitivity, and her insatiable curiosity.

In 1965, moving to WGBH, Sonya created the long-running Meet the Arts series, introducing the arts to young people nationwide, and won the International Japan prize.

Then in 1968, Sonya moved to WBZ-TV to become the first cultural reporter on nightly news in the country, for which she won the Ohio State Award and an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame College. In 1970 Sonya began the groundbreaking Sonya Hamlin Show, which brought the women’s movement to Boston. With a first-ever all female TV staff, Sonya shared her own vulnerability as a wife, mother and working woman to become a leader and role model, raising the consciousness of a generation of women – and men.

The show focused on the evolving issues of women’s roles, exploring new solutions for home and family life, career paths and self-discovery. Among its many firsts, the Sonya Hamlin Show presented the first-ever natural childbirth on TV, launched Ms. Magazine and its many authors before its publication, explored the new human encounter movement, and personalized the bitter conflicts around the Viet Nam war and the desegregation of Boston’s schools.

Sonya became known as an intense listener and insightful questioner, a warm, articulate and witty host. She was given the New England Broadcaster’s Personality of the Year Award in 1972 and the Mayor declared Sonya Hamlin Day in 1973.

In 1976 Sonya moved to WCVB and hosted Sunday Open House until 1981. She received two Emmy nominations — for TV hosting and for her pioneering documentary China: A Different Path. Sonya has moved on to a long career as a communications expert, teaching at Harvard among others, appearing as a contributor on national television and writing five books on courtroom and business communication.