Sunday, January 18, 2009

Eunice Randall, Pt. 2

Originally published in the January, 2009, Old Radio Times.(

Eunice Randall - Boston's First Female Announcer/Engineer
Donna Halper

And while some women worked as receptionists or confidential secretaries, Eunice Randall was not typical of her generation: not only was she an experienced ham radio operator but she now wanted to work with the men building radio receivers. Needless to say, she underwent considerable hazing in the factory-- what would today be called sexual harrassment-- but gradually she won everyone over, because her drafting work was very precise and she wasn't afraid to learn new jobs.

AMRAD had opened a broadcasting station in 1916; it was mainly operated by Tufts College students (AMRAD's founder, Harold J. Power, was a Tufts alumnus), but now that the AMRAD factory was expanding, some of the non-student workers also took their turn keeping the station on the air. Among them was Eunice Randall. All the amateur stations were taken off the air during World War 1, but as soon as it was legal to do so, the AMRAD station (known legally as 1XE, but referred to in the newspapers as "The Amrad station" or "the Medford Hillside station") resumed its broadcasts.

At some point in 1919, Eunice Randall became an announcer for the station, the first woman on air in greater Boston. By 1921, she was not only helping with the engineering, doing announcing, and at times sending out code so that any amateurs listening could get some code practise-- she had also gotten a sponsor and was now the "Story Lady". At least three nights a week, she read bed-time stories to the kids, sponsored by Little Folks Magazine. (In QST, and even in some of the newspapers, she was still referred to as the "OW of 1XE"-- "OW" being an affectionate term for a female amateur.)

- Donna Halper is a respected and experienced media historian, whose research has resulted in appearances on Chronicle (WCVB, Channel 5 in Boston), Voice of America, PBS/NewsHour, National Public Radio/Weekend America, New England Cable News, the History Channel, ABC Nightline, WBZ Radio, WNYC Radio, and elsewhere. Ms. Halper is the author of three books, the most recent of which is “Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting.” She is completing her fourth, “Icons of Talk,” a history of talk shows.


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