The Library of Congress > American Memory
banner image
return to home page table of contents about the guide abbreviations search banner image

Recorded Sound Section--Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division



arrow graphicWomen on the Radio
Beyond the Microphone
Daytime Programming
World War II
NBC Radio Collection
Programs for and by Women
Meet the Press Collection
NPR Collection
WOR Collection
Pacifica Radio Archive
CBS Collection
AFRTS Collection
Women on AFRS
OWI Collection
VOA Collection
BBC Sound Archive Collection
Music Recordings
Drama and Literature Recordings
The Spoken Word




Women on the Radio
see caption below

Eleanor Roosevelt, seated at microphone at radio station. Roger Smith, photographer. 1943. Prints and Photographs Division. LC-USZ62-113677 (b&w film copy neg.)

bibliographic record

Much is already known about the legendary women performers, comedians, and actors who have had their own shows or appeared as guests on the radio, but such stars as Judy Canova (1916-1983) [picture], Marian Jordan (1897-1961) [picture] of Fibber McGee and Molly, Gracie Allen (1902-1964) [picture], and Eve Arden (1912-1990) represent only a fraction of the female stars found in the Library's collections. Perhaps all of the major newsmakers of the day in all professions have appeared on the radio—Mamie Eisenhower (1896-1979), Bess Truman (1885-1982), birth control advocate Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), pilot Amelia Earhart, athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956), writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), and religious leader Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)—whose skillful use of the radio made her one of the most famous evangelists of her time, are among them. The ubiquitous Eleanor Roosevelt, an extremely effective communicator on the radio, used this skill to great political and social advantage and can be heard on hundreds of broadcasts.

Mary Margaret McBride

Other once-influential radio personalities, such as Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976), are not as well known today (see illustration in WOR Collection). Originally employed as a print journalist, McBride hosted an extremely popular daily radio program during the late 1930s, the 1940s, and the 1950s. Her audience was composed mainly of women.2 Her show mixed spontaneous interviews with notable guests, many of whom were women, and useful information with a heavy dose of advertising targeted at women. Topics discussed on her show included prostitution, unwed mothers, marriage in the modern world, and pioneering women. The program offered an alternative to the afternoon soap operas and demonstrated that women's interests ranged beyond cleaning tips and recipes. McBride maintained complete editorial and commercial control over her program and in doing so made lasting changes in the style of radio talk shows.

The Cynthia Lowry/Mary Margaret McBride Collection at the Library of Congress includes more than twelve hundred hours of interview programs and related broadcasts. All phases of McBride's radio career, from 1935 to the 1970s, are represented. Access to the collection is available through SONIC, where you can search by guest name or date of broadcast.

red line
Home Table of Contents About the Guide Abbreviations Search
The Library of Congress> > American Memory