The Jessie McCanse Award

Established in 1987, the award honors Jessie McCanse for her steadfast dedication and leadership role in media literacy, her sixty years as leader of the organization with its positive philosophy, and a champion of the highest standards of excellence, fairness, ethics and innovation.

Jessie McCanse circa 1970.

In recognizing the example set by Mrs. McCanse, the award is given for individual contribution to the field of media literacy over a long sustained period of time of at least ten years. It honors individuals whose contributions exemplify her high principles and dedication. 

To honor Jessie’s inspiring leadership, NTC established the Jessie McCanse Award on the occasion of her 90th birthday in 1987. The award may be, but is not necessarily given annually. The NTC Board, along with past recipients, chooses up to three recipients within a given year.


About Jessie McCanse

Jessie Hill McCanse was co-founder of the National Telemedia Council (then the American Council for Better Broadcasts) and a life long leader, mentor and teacher.

More than seventy years ago, Jessie provided the initial impetus and inspiration which began the organization as a radio awareness

committee of her local group of the American Association of University Women in Madison, Wisconsin. Together with Dr. Leslie Spence and other remarkable women, she gave leadership, wisdom and patience toward developing careful, critical, but positive listeners to the broadcasts of the 1930s. For fifteen years, her voice was heard weekly on WHA, the statewide Wisconsin Public Radio Station, as host of “Broadcast on Broadcasts.” In this capacity, she worked closely with the early Wisconsin Pioneers of Public Broadcasting, building a mutual relationship of positive significance.


As a teacher, Mrs. McCanse brought to the fledgling group the sound, reasonable educational principles and practices that are today basic attitudes in media literacy. Her indefatigable dedication lasted through the decades of television, cable, satellites, new media and into the computer age. Jessie served actively on the NTC Board of Directors until her health failed her in her last months.


Mrs. McCanse was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, the daughter of Dr. A.R. Hill, a Canadian educator who served for 15 years as a President of University of Missouri. The family traveled extensively, spending a year in Munich and Paris. Jessie’s studies included a year at the Sorbonne and a master’s degree in history from Stanford University.


Teacher, educational broadcaster and civic leader, Jessie McCanse received numerous honors, including the national YWCA’s Mother-of-the-Year Award. To honor Jessie’s inspiring leadership, NTC established the Jessie McCanse Award on the occasion of her 90th birthday in 1987. The award recognizes individuals whose contribution to media literacy exemplifies her high principles and dedication.