100 YEARS OF RADIO: FROM A WOMAN’S PERSPECTIVE
Nancy Richards, media trainer, journalist
Monday 22–Tuesday 23 January 9.15 am COURSE FEES R22O; Staff and students R110
On 18 December 1923 radio was introduced in South Africa, through ‘the first experimental broadcast at the Railway Headquarters in Johannesburg’. A century on, up to 94% of South Africans claim to own some sort of radio set and it is said that radio remains the country’s most loved medium.
Nancy Rischards spent twenty-five years ‘on radio’ and in this two-lecture course she looks first at Women’s Share of the Air – how despite all, women eventually found their voice in this ‘much loved medium’. According to the late Jim Black, former head of presentation at BBC Radio 4, ‘A news announcer needs to have authority, consistency and reliability. Women may have one or two of these qualities, but not all three’. And noted in their archives, in 1933, twenty-seven-year-old Sheila Borrett became the first female announcer on the BBC’s National Service. But was fired three months later apparently because the broadcaster received thousands of complaints. In Presenter to Podcaster – What radio taught me she reflects on a more personal journey. For many years she was privileged to work on the ‘woman’s show’ on SAfm – a programme which started In South Africa in 1952 and finally folded in 2018. During this time she listened to a lot of stories and learnt a lot of lessons. Shocking amongst them was that it was forty years before the show included the voice of a black woman. What began by chance for Nancy Richards went on to become a continuously chancy, but educational ride on the airwaves. She may have forgotten much of what she learnt, but some lessons stuck, and the sound journey continues.