NMSAT :: Networked Music & SoundArt Timeline

1922 __ Rosaline Greene and women on radio
Comment : There was a lot of conventional wisdom which suggested "audiences don't like or trust women as announcers" and "only male voices can speak with authority," and while there were a considerable number of women working successfully as announcers at the local level during the 1920s, this attitude made it very difficult for women to break into announcing at the network level. There was a great deal of fanfare in 1935 when World War 1 entertainer Elsie Janis was appointed to the NBC-New York announcing staff, but she didn't last long. Probably the most successful female announcer at the national level was Rosaline Greene, who began her career in the 1920s, became well-known as the voice of "Lady Esther" in the 1930s, and was on the announcing staff of WOR as late as 1945. One radio fan magazine awarded Greene their "Most Perfect Female Voice" title in the early 1930s.and it was exactly her sort of low, smooth voice which was preferred for women working as announcers. (This is, by the way, still pretty much the rule in radio. In these days of squealing twentysomething pop divas, it's one of the few places we contraltos get any respect.) I'd strongly recommend Donna Halper's recent book, Invisible Stars.A Social History of Women in Broadcasting. She goes into much detail on the accomplishments of the many women who had successful careers in both network and local radio during the OTR era. (Elizabeth McLeod, 2003)Broadcasting from a city not bursting with singers, instrumentalists, lecturers, readers, Kolin Hager [a histrionic character and orator in mid-1910s] soon gravitated toward drama. He found in the area a nucleus of enthusiasts and other willing volunteers. They included H; Edward Smith, an old-time stock company actor with resonant voice, long black hair, and "Byronnic manner", who took a leading role in forming the [WGY] troupe. Included also was a girl student from New York State Teacher' College at Albany, Rosaline Greene, who had never been on a stage and could not "project". This may explain why she was soon the center of audience attention and was called by newspaper "the first leading lady of radio". (Erik Barnouw)
Original excerpt : « Women Winning Place in Radio as Announcers.Find Career Oppotunities in New Capacities with Big Networks.by C.E. Butterfield.New York, Aug. 21, 1937.Women as announcers, long familiar to the European ear, only now are beginning to find career opportunities on American broadcasting. Why the feminine sex never has been more actively represented in the male-predominated program introduction on this country's networks hasn't been clearly explained, but broadcasters will admit, when pressed, that they couldn't always locate a "suitable voice". Just what they meant by a "suitable voice" may be indicated by the fact that a common attribute of the three women now being used in regular programs on the NBC chain as announcers is that each speaks in the lower register.None under 30 years - Too, it is to be noted that each is 30 years of age or older, with 10 years of more of training, non in the same basics fields. The networks have tried women announcers before. For instance, Elsie Janis, veteran of stage experience, was on the staff of NBC for six months or so about a year ago. Her contract was not renewed. Of the three, one has European training. She is Lisa Sergio, whose English reminds one slightly of Oxford. She came here from Rome, where one of her jobs was news broadcastong on short wave 2RO, heard often in this country.To handle concerts - She speaks somewhat matter-of-factly. For NBC, among other things, she has been assigned to the broadcasts of the Robin Hood Dell concerts from Philadelphia. She also has been doing some short wave speaking for the network, giving news in Spanish and French. Her mother was the former Margaret Fitzgerald of Baltimore, but she was born and educated in Florence, Italy. An altogether different background is that of Rosaline Greene, who announces for Phil Spitainy's girls and who also handled Mrs. F.D. Roosevelt's recent broadcasts. She started out to be a radio actress, and still does plenty of microphone acting. Rosaline uses a clearcut style. Her voice demonstrated the training she has had in playing many radio roles, as well as the fact that she is native New Yorker. Also there is Claudine MacDonald, who had charge of the women's radio review and who did its announcing to meet the requirement of an all-female cast as far as possible. Today she is running "It's a Woman's World" in her same chatty style, with just a trace on the middle west in her diction. She was born in Chicago. » (St. Petersburg Times - Aug 22, 1937)
Source : Barnouw, Erik (1966), “A Tower in Babel. A History of Broadcasting in the United States”, Vol. I, Oxford University Press, New York, p. 137.
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