"The Puffin" Laytonville's Original Radio Station

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Women in Radio


Women have worked as telegraphers since around 1840. Anna Nevins was a telegrapher for western union and later,about 1906 employed by Lee deForest, Marconi's old buddy and latter worked at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in N.Y.One of the first uses of the wireless telegraph was communication between ships at sea and land stations. Males were usually employed as operators but,women were starting to fill the massive need for operators.The only requirements were you had to know "Morse code" and know the equipment.Which a good many females did.One of the earliest known shipboard operators was Medora-Olive-Newell. Ms. Newell lived quite the lavish lifestyle.Back then operators were like rock stars today.Extremely well paid and given the respect due a person of their position.The wireless ship act of 1910 required all ships to have a telegraph aboard every ship,as well as a competant operator on board at all times

The first woman to be officially employed as telegrapher was Graynella Packer who worked for the United wireless telegraph co. She was stationed aboard the SS.Mohawk  for 7-8 months in 1911 The radio act of 1912 required operators on land to be licensed for the first time. The first woman licensed to operate a wireless was Mabelle Kelso.She was from Seattle and worked for the dept of Navy. She received her license in Jan. of 1912. By 1913 over 30 women had been licensed as shipboard operators. By 1920 radio had evolved to the point of broadcasting both voice and music.In 1920 Eunice Randal worked at the American radio & research co.Which ran a station called 1XE which had news,music and Eunice Randall as "The story Lady" she read children's bedtime story's. She stayed there till they went belly up in 1925.You gotta remember, these women had to fight for every little piece of ground they could gather in predominant male world of telegraph operators.This was during a time in our history of America when women were not supposed to have a job, let alone making more money than their neighbors. Most women in radio in the early years were not all that well liked by their male counter parts,There's a quote from a magazine called Electrical Experimenter this is from their Oct. 1916 magazine,and I quote."Just because a man,Marconi invented commercial wireless telegraphy does not mean, for a moment, that the fair sex cannot master it's mysteries." Author unknown Another woman who should be noted here is, then. 15 year old Kathleen Parkin of San Rafael,CA.She received her license, again she was only 15 here.For "Expert radio operator and mechanician First grade commercial radio operators license from the U.S. govt. Her stations call was 6SO.


Thanks for staying tuned to these ramblings on early radio.Next week we'll bring the radio into your living rooms,How many out there remember the Victrola ads with the entire family (including the dog) sitting in the living room watching  radio? I hate to date myself to much but I not only remember the ads, I remember doing it! Watching radio.And that was high tech baby,high tech stuff


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