Today as we celebrate International Radio Day, I would like to share my experience and the stories of three women’s who were pioneer broadcasters and managers.
I remember the first time I talked on radio station for an interview, I was nervous and shy because I don’t like to hear my voice reproduce on any device. However, years later when I coordinated a project for journalists in Nicaragua, I learned to record in the studio and give interviews more often like never before imagined.
I participated in several workshops along with the young participants from community radios where I learned techniques and skills to become confident in front of a microphone. Besides, I had a lot of motivation from the participants, which made it much easier.
I had the opportunity to learn and be directed for my recording. Nevertheless, many women have learned empirically to broadcast on radio and had to struggle to let their voices be heard.
Women’s voices on the radio have played a pivotal role in the history of broadcasting. Their voices entered spaces speaking to housewives, workers, and consumers. Both listeners and broadcasters became a key role for women to vote in the 1920s.
Eunice Randall, in 1920, at age 19, was one of the first announcers and engineers on Radio 1XE from the Boston area owned by the American Radio and Research Company (AMRAD), which was a factory of radio equipment.
Randall needed money for her art school study so she started working at the factory, but soon she developed an interest to operate the radio. At the station, she read stories to children two times a week, she read police reports, announced the news, gave morse practice, and other duties. No doubt, Randall was an inspiration for many women during the 1920s.
Betha Brainard is another radio pioneer who grew up in New Jersey, dreaming to become a movie star. She studied theatre which led her to conduct a programme titled Broadcasting Broadway, which debated theatre reviews and up-coming shows at station WJZ.
Her programme was moved from New Jersey to New York City, where she had it easier to interview actresses and actors and also allowed her to work directly in managing the radio and produced new programmes. In 1927, she became the first woman to hold the position of radio executive at NBC Network.
Audrey Russell, was one of BBC’s first woman war correspondents, who covered the war between 1941-1945, interviewing civilians of their experiences in the war such as the explosion of a V2 rocket in London. Unfortunately, she was restricted from covering the frontline of the battles, because it was reserved for the male correspondents.
These women’s voices were On-Off the air at the radio station for many years even though they faced more challenges than women do today, However, they didn’t stop. Thanks to their braveness and example, we have the privilege to hear today more talented women’s voices on radios or podcasts discussing topics of interest for women empowerment.
I would like to list women friends with whom I worked in my home country. They have powerful voices on the radio and have been working to develop a social change in their community. Among them: Ileana Lacayo, Nora Newball, Dolene Miller, Aleseter Brack Downs, Duyerling Ríos, Patrica Orozco, Margarita Antonio, Jamileth Chavarria, and all the other girls at the communities radios.
Today, as radio continues to evolve during the internet era, we also got to remember that it is still the media that reaches the widest audience worldwide.
Don’t stop giving a voice to the voiceless!