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Drue Smith, right, was the first woman to cover the Tennessee Generaly Assembly full-time. This photo from 1954 shows her public affairs program on WDEF-TV. Contributed photo from the ChattanoogaHistory.com EPB collection.

This 1954 photo of Chattanoogan Drue Smith recalls her time as one of Tennessee's most admired journalists.

Here, Smith is seen on the set of her program, "Party Line," on WDEF-TV. The program was sponsored by Chattanooga's Electric Power Board, and this photo is part of a selection of EPB images preserved at the website ChattanoogaHistory.com. Smith was WDEF-TV's first public affairs director.

(If you can identify the man sitting with Smith in this photo, please contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com and this report will be updated online with his name.)

Smith, who attended Girls Preparatory School and the University of Chattanooga (now the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga), evolved from being a writer for both of Chattanooga's daily newspapers to become the queen of Nashville's Capitol press corps. She was the first woman to cover the Tennessee General Assembly full-time.

Smith, who died in 2001 at age 86, entered journalism at a time when there were few female reporters in Tennessee newsrooms. She was inducted into the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame in 2015 alongside two other legends of Chattanooga journalism, Chattanooga News-Free Press publisher Roy McDonald and former New York Times reporter and Chattanooga Times editor, John N. Popham.

(READ MORE: McDonald, Popham, Smith to be inducted into Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame)

ChattanoogaHistory.com

Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.

If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non-digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

According to a 2015 article in the Chattanooga Times Free Press by local attorney Jerry Summers and history expert Mickey Robbins, Smith began her journalism career here as a feature writer for the Chattanooga Free Press. Later, she wrote a society column for the Chattanooga Times.

In the late 1950s, she moved to Nashville to work for then-Tennessee Gov. Frank G. Clement. According to the Tennessee Journalism Hall of Fame website, Smith went on to cover politics for United Press International, WLAC radio in Nashville, the Tennessee Radio Network and several Nashville community newspapers. She was once named Broadcaster of the Year by the American Women in Radio organization.

A 2005 report in the Chattanooga Times Free Press notes that Smith once hosted a show on WAPO radio where "she gave Estes Kefauver the legendary coonskin cap he later took on the road in his presidential campaign."

A flamboyant character, Smith often dressed in "feathers, tiaras and brilliant colors," her obituary noted.

Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga" public group on Facebook, and see previous reports in this series on ChattanoogaHistory.com.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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