Women’s History Month: Celebrating Radio News Pioneer Edyth Meserand
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to celebrate the amazing career and contributions that Edyth Meserand made to the world of broadcasting. She’s been credited with being the first person, male or female, to envision and create the first modern radio newsroom, and she made several other advancements to broadcasting in a time when women were often overlooked.
Starting her Career at NBC
In 1926, at the age of 18, Meserand got her first job in the press department of the newly created National Broadcasting Company (now known as NBC), which was and still is headquartered in New York City. NBC was progressive for the time, and Meserand had the opportunity to work with other women pioneers in the broadcasting industry, including Margaret Cuthbert, Director of Talks, and Bertha Brainard, Director of Programming.
Directing Promotions at Hearst
In 1931, Meserand went to work for another prominent brand – Hearst – as the Director of Promotions for ten Hearst radio stations. On one of those stations, she also delivered the news and played music, much like a modern DJ – though the music then was more likely to be from Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby.
Shaping the News Department at WOR
In 1937, she took a position at a radio station called WOR, where she started as an assistant news director – making her one of the first women to assign reporters and build a news broadcast. When World War II started in 1939, news broadcasting became more important and valued than ever, but WOR lacked a full news department or appropriate facilities for radio transmissions. Meserand helped to design the first modern radio newsroom so the public could be kept informed during a scary time in American history. When her boss became a war correspondent, Meserand was promoted to head of the news department.
Producing the First True Radio Documentaries
During her time at WOR, Meserand also became known for creating some of what are considered the world’s first radio news documentaries, which also incorporated real background sounds – something that had not been done before. These documentaries likely paved the way for the podcasts that people enjoy today.
Founding the AWRT
In 1951, Meserand became a founding member of American Women in Radio and Television and served as its first president. The organization, now known as the Alliance for Women in Media, still exists today with a mission of connecting, recognizing and inspiring women across the media industry. The following year, she started her own ad agency and produced radio and TV campaigns for Mary Ann Krupsak, the former Lieutenant Governor of New York
Meserand received many honors and awards for her tireless work in advancing the field of broadcasting while also opening doors for women who aspired to similar success. Meserand passed away at the age of 88 in 1997, but her legacy lives on.
Training for Your Own Broadcasting Career
If you’re looking for a place to start building your own historic broadcasting career, the International College of Broadcasting (ICB) is a great place to start. Check out our hands-on programs in Broadcasting, Video Production/Recording Audio Engineering, and Multimedia Production & Broadcasting to see what best fits your particular interests. ICB will prepare you for the real-world of broadcasting and qualify you for an exciting and fulfilling career in a competitive industry. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a consultation with our admissions department. Let’s get started!