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 an
American Top 40 (AT40) 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 magazine, regarding 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 May 18, 2023
(updated from original post