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Broadcasting Femininity: The All-Girl Radio' of WHER-AM
Unformatted Document Text:  Broadcasting Femininity: The ‘All-Girl’ Radio of WHER-AM 8 An interesting question left unanswered by this research is the question of women’s contributions to shaping this programming. Donna Halper, in the 2001 publication Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting, explores what she calls the “vastly neglected subject of women’s roles in broadcasting.” 27 Her research has done much to displace these familiar radio historiographies, asserting that “these pioneering women broadcasters played an important part in changing our culture: not only did they expand society’s expectations of what women could do, but they also provided a forum for the issues that affected the lives of housewives, children, and ‘career girls’.” 28 Halper describes the contributions of individual women in the male-dominated atmosphere of both radio and television broadcasting, the relationships among gender roles and women’s participation in the media work force, and how these contexts have changed over time. This work is important for locating the presence of women in broadcasting industries, for correcting misperceptions that women have been absent altogether from media production, and, in it rich description of women in production roles, it leads us a step closer to integrating our analyses of women as both producers and consumers of media. Women were very active in 1920s radio, serving as performers, vocalists, story tellers, musical accompanists, and clubwomen giving announcements. The League of Women voters, for example, founded in 1920, had a radio spokeswoman on-air by 1922. Halper argues, “radio may have started off as a mainly male hobby, but by the end of 1922, women were very involved and very interested.” 29 Often a compelling reason to hire women was practical. Small station budgets meant small paychecks for employees,

Authors: Meade, Melissa.
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Broadcasting Femininity: The ‘All-Girl’ Radio of WHER-AM
8
An interesting question left unanswered by this research is the question of
women’s contributions to shaping this programming. Donna Halper, in the 2001
publication Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting,
explores what she calls the “vastly neglected subject of women’s roles in broadcasting.”
27
Her research has done much to displace these familiar radio historiographies, asserting
that “these pioneering women broadcasters played an important part in changing our
culture: not only did they expand society’s expectations of what women could do, but
they also provided a forum for the issues that affected the lives of housewives, children,
and ‘career girls’.”
28
Halper describes the contributions of individual women in the male-dominated
atmosphere of both radio and television broadcasting, the relationships among gender
roles and women’s participation in the media work force, and how these contexts have
changed over time. This work is important for locating the presence of women in
broadcasting industries, for correcting misperceptions that women have been absent
altogether from media production, and, in it rich description of women in production
roles, it leads us a step closer to integrating our analyses of women as both producers and
consumers of media.
Women were very active in 1920s radio, serving as performers, vocalists, story
tellers, musical accompanists, and clubwomen giving announcements. The League of
Women voters, for example, founded in 1920, had a radio spokeswoman on-air by 1922.
Halper argues, “radio may have started off as a mainly male hobby, but by the end of
1922, women were very involved and very interested.”
29
Often a compelling reason to
hire women was practical. Small station budgets meant small paychecks for employees,


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