Attention must be paid.  One of broadcasting’s legends will officially retire by week’s end. Barbara Walters is best known today as the creator and host of the daytime chatfest, The View. But, she is also the first woman to sit in the anchor chair on evening news broadcast.

I worked alongside the now 84-year-old for a little more than ten years. Back then, she was the co-host of ABC News' 20/20 and I was a segment producer. She was a huge presence on the program because of her vaunted status as the show’s host, status that provided her with all of the celebrity trappings. There was the multimillion-dollar salary of course, the enormous pink office with windows overlooking New York City, as well as the two secretaries — who, by a quirk of fate, were both named Monica.

Wikipedia describes Barbara Walters as an American journalist and television personality. But the success of the glitzy entertainment shows she created, notably The Ten Most Fascinating People and various celebrity themed Barbara Walters Specials, have overshadowed her journalism credentials. Yet, it’s her reporting chops that got her many exclusives, including a sit down with Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro, and the first broadcast interview with infamous White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Just days ago Barbara demonstrated, once again, that she can best her competitors. V. Stiviano, who describes herself as a confidant of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, broke her silence in another exclusive Barbara Walters interview.

It’s hard to believe now, but Barbara never thought she’d be on air. In 1962 she was hired by The Today Show as its sole female writer. Her excellent writing laid the foundation for her big on-camera break reporting President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Decades later I got to witness that finely honed writing skill in 20/20 pre-show production meetings. The room was full of producers like me with segments slotted for that week, a host of production assistants, the senior staff, and the show’s writers who would come with their draft of the show’s script. Barbara would take a look at the script, pause briefly and rattle off perfectly composed rewrites. Whole paragraphs. No paper. No computer. The writers brought tape recorders to capture her in-the-moment changes. And the rest of us in the room were always left open-mouthed. 

Barbara’s friend Joan Marks told a TV biographer, “Barbara wants not only to be good, she wants to be the best.”

Don’t let the Chanel suits and limos fool you — Barbara’s intense work ethic has leveled far younger staffers. Many a time I’d leave work in the wee hours of the morning only to see Barbara’s driver still outside waiting for her. The tenacious interviewer was never deterred by those who said "I’ll never talk to the media"; instead, she would patiently send handwritten requests for weeks, months, even years before the potential interviewee finally said yes.

New York City has declared this Friday Barbara Walters Day. And ABC News has declared a lifetime place for her at the network and is renaming its Upper West Side headquarters the Barbara Walters building. No doubt the celebrations will illustrate her living legacy, the legions of women broadcasters, including me, who came after her.

“I have affected the way women are regarded, and that’s important to me,”  she said.

Congratulations on your retirement, Barbara. You earned it.