April 1945 Radio-Craft
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Radio-Craft,
published 1929 - 1953. All copyrights are hereby acknowledged.
AM radio station
WISE, in Asheville,
North Carolina, today is an ESPN sports broadcasting entity, but until 2004 it was a Top 40 type music
format. It gained notoriety in World War II for being the first commercial broadcast station whose
entire staff of radio engineers was comprised of women. As reported in a 1945 issue of Radio Craft of chief
engineer Madeline Halleuth, "...she speaks the language of crystal-controlled frequencies, water-cooled
transmitting tubes, condensers, coils, and carries her position with the ease of a veteran radio technician."
While America's men went to fight a war to spare the world from Communist, Fascist, Socialist aggression,
women moved into many roles traditionally filled primarily by men. Recall that 'Rosie the Riveter' built
airplanes and tanks, while others delivered mail, operated heavy construction equipment, and managed
the family business.
Beauty and Broadcasting
Numerous changes in personnel from male to female have occurred
during the war emergency, in various industries from "Rosie the Riveter" to weatherwomen, postal truck
drivers, streetcar "conductresses," "motorwomen," female "icemen" and taxi drivers. Women are operating
road-grading equipment, and even working as train washers and baggagemasters. But to WISE, Asheville,
North Carolina, famed mountain resort, goes the distinction of being the only broadcasting station in
the United States with three women as radio engineers. An experimental television station in Chicago
is manned by women.
The engineering staff at WISE has as its chief engineer a former New York stage actress. The nation's
first woman chief radio engineer - charming, but unassuming Miss Madeline Halleuth, a native of Scarsdale,
New York. In addition to her technical abilities, she has splendid voice-appeal as announcer. As chief
engineer, she speaks the language of crystal-controlled frequencies, water-cooled transmitting tubes,
condensers, coils, and carries her position with the ease of a veteran radio technician.
The other two women at WISE are only 19 years old. Miss Faye Beard of Bryson, City, North Carolina,
chic and charming enough to be a model as well as an engineer, started experimenting with radio when
only 16 years old. She built a two-tube radio receiver then; and now has four cousins in radio and radar
work in the war. Miss Beard is capable of talking the language of radio engineering, has a license from
the Federal Communications Commission to operate a broadcasting station, having studied at the N.Y.A.
radio night school in Asheville; and has been with WISE .since December 1942. Miss Bettie Freeman of
Morganton, North Carolina, who is also licensed and received her training through the same channels,
and carries the same distinction, has been with, WISE since January 1943.
The results of World War II in the future development of our country's industries can be credited
then, not only to our nation's leading men, but to these first ladies of the land, whose ingenuity,
perseverance, and ability will carry them through this emergency of manpower shortages to the days of
the postwar future, when these same women will become established factors in the radio industry and
other fields of industrial endeavor. - S.R.W.
Posted March 17, 2017