Amid the on-going debate in Australia about the number of women on-air, the role of women in radio at the BBC has been highlighted.
“In the 1970’ s the world of radio was dominated by men. It was hard for women to get into top jobs and have their voices heard across the airwaves. Radio was viewed as a tough and often misogynistic world.”
Rewind to the beginning of broadcasting in Britain and there was a group of trail blazing women in the 1920’s “securing top jobs and conditions like maternity leave at the BBC before all women had even secured the vote,” and “making radio for women.”
Dr. Kate Murphy joined Bournemouth University in September 2012 initially as a Senior Lecturer in Radio Production. Prior to that, she worked at the BBC for 24 years, mainly as a Senior Producer on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
Dr.Murphy is currently in Australia and this week spoke at UTS Sydney on women in the BBC. She also joined 2ser’s Catherine Zengerer on The Wire and talked about the influential Hilda Matherson.
Hilda Matherson OBE was the Director of Talks at the BBC in 1927 and realising married women didn’t work, programmed shows across the day aimed at that demographic.
Initially female producers had asked women listeners what they wanted to hear and surprisingly it wasn’t necessarily domestic issues.
In 1929 she programmed a show titled A Week in Westminster, whereby female MPs would broadcast short talks to the nation’s women, to help them familiarise the parliamentary processes.
It continues in 2016 and is the fifth longest-running radio broadcast on British radio and argued it could be the world’s longest running.
Dr. Murphy says in the early days, behind the scenes women were working alongside men very comfortably.