The first person in St. Louis television to win a national award was Mary Spencer, who was a public affairs writer and producer for KSD-TV. She had joined KSD-TV in the early 1960s, a time when women were a distinct minority in the business. Mrs. Spencer, her production team and KSD-TV won the national Emmy in 1964 for her first documentary, "Operation Challenge -- A Study in Hope," a program she wrote, produced and narrated about extreme poverty and the social ills in Kinloch. Spencer's Emmy remained the only one earned by anyone in the St. Louis area until 2002.
In 1966, Mrs. Spencer and her crew spent four months interviewing hundreds of people and filming city hospitals and clinics to illustrate the causes of the increasing number of first-year deaths. "The Lengthening Shadow" prompted an overwhelming response from viewers. The program became a teaching tool at health agencies and medical schools.
In her later years at the station, she did a daily commentary in the evening newscasts. She retired in 1975.