Category Archives: Uncategorized

Australian Women in Radio online at the NFSA

Carla Teixeira has authored a new online feature for Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive  about “Women in Radio” chronicling the lives and work of many of Australia’s women radio pioneers.   Through texts and sound clips from seven key women in the early years of Australian wireless, it highlights the roles of women not only as presenters and performers but also as writers and producers from the earliest years.

 

 

 

Women hams ride the radio wave in India

Fascinating story on Scroll.in about amateur radio in India, including some references as well to the peculiar culture of gender that has evolved since the earliest days:

 

The term YL, or young lady, meaning an unmarried woman of any age, was coined in 1920 as a concession to the growing number of female hams. In time, when women married, they became known as XYLs, or ex-young ladies. After women operators in 1940 took umbrage to the second term, it became convention to call any licensed female ham, regardless of marital status, YL. Unlicensed wives of operators are XYLs. Men, regardless of marital status, are OM or old man.

Prasad is something of a trailblazer in the world of hams in India, with more awards and felicitations than she can list.

She became a ham in 1980, when there were perhaps only 50 YLs in India. She was a science student, but not familiar with electronics. Nor did she know English at the time, having studied in her first language, Telugu, until then. When she expressed interest in joining up, she faced stiff opposition from her community.

“Because my family are Brahmins, the Brahmins said, ‘No, no, you should not talk to gents. When you go on the radio, you will talk to gents only, no ladies’,” said Prasad. “But my brother-in-law supported me and said that if I become a ham, as a YL, I would be very popular. So I said okay.”

Prasad worked overtime to pick up the skills she needed. Today, she is among the most prominent hams in the country. Her call sign, or unique identifier with which she introduces herself while operating her radio, is VU2RBI.

Do check out the whole article!

Listen to the Sound of My Voice

Sounding Out!

Betrayal

I first realized there was a problem with my voice on the first day of tenth grade English class. The teacher, Mrs. C, had a formidable reputation of strictness and high standards. She had us sit in alphabetical order row after row, and then insisted on calling roll aloud while she sat at her desk. Each name emerged as both a command and a threat in her firm voice.

“Kelly Barfield?”

“Here,” I mumbled quietly. I was a Honor Roll student with consistent good grades, all A’s and one B on each report card, yet I was shy and softspoken in classes. This was an excellent way to make teachers amiable but largely go unnoticed. The softness of my voice made me less visible and less recognizable.

Mrs. C repeated my name. Caught off guard, I repeated “here” a little more loudly. She rose to her feet to…

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The pioneering women of the BBC’s early years

A new article by Kate Murphy on pioneer has just been published in the BBC news magazine, outlining the position of women at the BBC.  Paid maternity leave, no marriage bar (until 1932) and thus – not surprisingly – a wide range of highly educated, pioneering broadcasters.  Also splendid photographs showing women engaged at all levels of production.  Check it out.

Cold War radio jamming – also a gendered division of labour…

Gendered divisions of labour are common in the history of radio production (and are one of the things groups like the Sound Women are seeking to address.)  It has happened quite regularly that once a technical task (such as sound technician) becomes a domain open to women, it is also devalued – or vice versa.

In discussion today with Andras Simongati-Farquhar, an MA student at the Insitute of Sonology in the Hague , he pointed out that such a phenomenon also seems to have occurred in the Soviet Union’s radio jamming activities.  This is mentioned in a section of a documentary by Rimantas Pleikys, former Minister for Communications and Informatics of Lithuania, called The Empire of Noise about Soviet radio jamming.  While transmitting jamming signals was the domain of the men, it was largely a corps of women who monitored frequencies for the effects of jamming.  Check out the section of the documentary here:

 

The Story of WHER, the all-women radio station in the US

Fugitive Waves has published a 2-part documentary on Memphis’s all-female radio station WHER, begun as a novelty in 1955 that quickly took on a personality of its own.  Click on the links for part 1 and part 2.

Radio Role Models for African Women and Youth

radiolisteninggroup2013

Bringing together several important things for WREN, this just spotted from the Women’s International News Gathering Service WINGS).  (On Facebook : www.facebook.com/wingsradio):

Lydia Ajono interviews Freda Pigru, a young radio station manager in rural northern Ghana, and West and Central Africa Representative to the Women’s International Network of AMARC (the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters). Pigru describes her activities running a rural community radio station and especially recruiting and supporting women, who are shy of talking on mic but sometimes sing their issues.

Download link: http://wings.org/ftp/WINGS2015series/WINGS25-15RadioRoleModels-28_47-192kbps.mp3

There are many fascinating aspects of the interview, including finding ways for women to feel comfortable speaking on the radio – sometimes singing works better! – but also note on the beginning the interviewer also asking about having enough language competence to operate in a transnational environment of AMARC (specifically whether her French is up to it) and living near the border between Ghana and Burkina Faso.

Do also note the call to help fund the stations run both by Lydia Ajono and Freda Pigru, which can also be done via WINGS:  wings@wings.org.