Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Curious George, Pt. 1

Originally published in the March, 2009, Old Radio Times.(http://www.otrr.org/pg07_times.htm)

Curious George

Donna Halper arrived on the campus of Northeastern University in the fall of 1964, determined to be a disc jockey at WNEU, the university’s closed-circuit radio station. “I was told, ‘We don’t put girls on the air,’” she says. “That was not the answer I had expected.” But Halper was used to being an outsider, having grown up as the only Jewish kid in her Roslindale neighborhood. She persisted, and finally got her own show in 1968.Now, after more than 30 years of working in radio (her consulting business is on the Web at www.donnahalper.com) and teaching broadcasting at Emerson College, Halper has written a book. Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting (M.E. Sharpe, 331 pages, $39.95) pays tribute, she says, to the women who came before her in an industry that has never been particularly accepting of women.

If Invisible Stars has a central character, it is Eunice Randall, who grew up in Mattapoisett and who, in 1918, was hired by the American Radio and Research Company to do technical drawings for engineers. The company also operated a radio station known as 1XE (later a commercial station, WGI), in Medford. Soon Randall – later Eunice Randall Thompson – was doing everything from building radio equipment to volunteering as an announcer to climbing the station’s tower and repairing the antenna. She stayed active in ham radio into the 1960s.


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