Waller in 1941

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Waller in 1941 - K il PfO TSS3L TSBk t N RAD Judith C. Waller,...
K il PfO TSS3L TSBk t N RAD Judith C. Waller, NBC Executive, Remembers When Every Station Operated on Same Wave Length By Clarissa Start A Staff Correspondent of th Post-Dispatch CHICAGO, June 3. JUDITH C. WALLER has recently been named a "notably suc-, cessful pioneer,", and the General Federation of Women's Club, which gave her the title, has thus con firmed something that most people in radio have known for years. In a gilded company that includes such names as Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mrs. Ruth Bryan Rohde, Judge Florence? Allen, Mary Pick-ford, Dorothy Canfield Fisher and Ether Banrymore, Miss Waller has been selected by the federation as one of the 53 women representing "the great strides made by women in the past 50 years." Judith Waller's own stride has reached the position of Director of Public Service and Education of the Central Division of the National Broadcasting Company. Through her office, on the nineteenth floor of Chicago's large Merchandise Mart, pass all sustaining programs of a cultural nature talks, discussions, glee clubs, symphonies, opera. She manages this sizeable portion of NBC's broadcasts calmly, completely, in the best tradition of women executives. A small, slim, white-haired woman. Miss Waller like the other "successful pioneers" is not the pioneer of battle-scarred face, covered station wagon, and coon skin cap. If she wore a cap you may rest assured it would be a very smart cap, in keeping with her; navy blue and white pique crisp-ness. Also, like her sister pioneers, she is far more the typical career woman than the flip young things you see pictured in the career magazines. She started in broadcasting back in 1922 when, she admits, "nobody knew anything at all about radio." "I had been doing advertising work," she explained, "both in Chicago and New York, when Victor Lawson, who was the owner of the Chicago Dally News and an old friend of the family, bought a radio station in co-operation with one of the department stores, and asked me if I'd like to run it. Well, fools rush in, you know, so I told him I'd take the job." With that casual step, Miss Waller became the manager of WMAQ, and at the time the only woman manager in the country. "The staff consisted of me and the engineer," she laughed as she thought back. "Every station operated on the same wave length, and we broadcast two half-hours a day. I spent my time going out and ringing doorbells and getting talent, rushing back to write the story, and then going to the station to put it on. We didn't care if something took exactly 10 seconds or not. It was a sort of hit and miss system, and we got what talent we could. "I remember very well the first broadcast 1 put on. Sophie Bras-lau, Metropolitan Opera contralto, was to be a soloist with the Chicago Symphony, so I asked the manager of the orchestra to introduce me, and I asked her, if she'd like to sing over our station. She'd never heard of radio, but the idea intrigued her, so she said, 'When do you do it?' and I said, 'Whenever you'll come. She came and sang, and I don't suppose apyone outside the studio heard her. "There's a nice story in connec- 4 . 1 : lip :. 1 '''' 'V- I ' ' It JUDITH C. WALLER. SHE STARTED IN RADIO IH 1922 WHEN IT." 'NOBODY KNEW ANYTHING AEOUT tion with that. When the station was rebuilt we asked her to come at her regular fee and open the new station. She did, and then in 1929 when the new Dally News Building was built, she wired "Can 1 come and open the station? This time it's my party.' Unfortunately the Philadelphia Metropolitan called her and she couldn't come, but she very kindly sent Albert Spalding in her place. "When the station closed down for rebuilding, we broadcast over KTW, the only other station then in town. By that time I had a secretary, assistant, and an announcer. The boy who was the announcer was also a musician, but he had a very bad voice, so he had to take voice training before he could announce. Incidentally he's now conductor of the Louisville Civic Orchestra." WMAQ progressed In size and variety of programs along with the rest of radio. Lectures from the University of Chicago soon augmented the all-musical programs, though the Round Table didn't come into being until 1930. "People called us a little highbrow at first because we had university lectures and foreign language lessons and classical music," Miss Waller said, "but we were also the ones to start the Fibber McGee and . Molly series then known as the Jordans and Amos 'n' Andy started out on WMAQ. I remember they were broadcasting as Sam and Henry on another sta tion. They wanted to come with us, but they wanted more . money than our budget would allow, and we weren't sure if their act was through or whether it had possibilities. Also the other station owned the copyright on the name Sam and Henry and we thought It might cost too much to publicize a name. But finally wj decided to take them. I don't know who thought up the name Amos 'n Andy. I guess we all did." When NBC took over the station and incidentally the staff had increased to over 100 plus a studij orchestra Judith 'Waller went along in her present capacity. A great deal of travel is included in the job of director of public service, and she spends about six months of the year traveling. Several years ago she made a research trip through the Kentucky mountain region, .down where all radios are battery sets, 1 and cold cream and cake flour commercials of no use at all. Residents of the vicinity of Dogpatch, she discovered, like hillbilly music first, then the classics, and flon't understand jazz at all. "So many of the hillbillies are pure English," she explained, "and since hillbilly songs are a holdover from old folk songs, which in turn probably came from the classics, it's easy to sea how they can understand Bach and Beethoven. Next to musical programs, they like news, since it's the first time they've ever known of the outside world." She also travels to conventions, and does a lot of speaking at universities. She invariably tells the bright girls who aspire to jobs like hers to "get in the hard way," start at a small radio station, and learn the business from the bottom up. Miss Waller lives in the suburbs of Chicago, with her mother and sister. , "And since my mother Is very old and entirely deaf, I devote whatever time I can to her," she said. READING, going to the theater, and photography are her chief interests away from her job. In fact she packs a camera wherever she goes, and evidence of her prowess, in the form of large, very expert looking, framed photographs decorate her pleasant, cheery office. While she champions women In almost every line, she believes that "most women are deadly on the radio," and has a great deal to say on that subject. "I don't know what the microphone does to women, but they are not good broadcasters," she laments. "Nine time out of 10 a woman sounds as if she were on a platform or soap box addressing the world, and she is 'telling them.' Why can't women be natural, be friendly, be intimate, and conversational? Why can't they learn to read a paper as If they were talking to you, telling you something they have learned that they would like you to know about? Not laying down the law to you, , but conversing with you." Maybe it is this consciousness that there is one field in which even career women are lacking, maybe it's a natural aversion for too much of the spotlight, but we must reveal that N. B. C.'s successful pioneer seldom practices what she preaches, for she seldom speaks over the radio. "I do when I have to," she smiled, "but I dislike it very much." A his as I 1 2 3 Democracy and Discipline By E,sI Robinson SALUTE to a smart and spunky woman Dean Virginia C. Gil-dersleeve of Barnard College, who, at a recent meeting of the D. A. R. in New York City, broadcast some wholesome but unhappy facts to Young America and its instructors. Said she, without a smidge of apology: "The younger generation shrinks from paying the price of safety because its teachers have allowed the members the freedom to do as they want rather than instructing them in obligations. . . , They have never learned - to face any more pressing reality than their own desires." ' A chorus of hip-hip-hurrahs, plus a whole zoo of tigers to you, do otherwise. Lately, however, he shifted to a new high school whose regime is, to say the least, an ecstatic surprise. "You see, we have a Progressive Principal now," he explained, with due consideration for my ignorance. "He doesn't make you study just because you're part of the class ... he treats you like an individual." "And how might that be?" says I, with a marked lack of enthusiasm. "Well, you see there's some kids that can study and there's some that can't They just can't They aren't made that way." "So what?" "So he doesn't try to force the teachers once did. to freedom than a dozen Communist camps or Bunds. Freedom is not based on Self Expression. Liberty does not consist In doing what we want or refusing to do what we don't want. Democracy is based on Discipline. It is based on co-operative conformance with certain broad ideals of service. And people who haven't learned to co-operate are as dangerous to a nation as mad dogs. They are a beautiful and heartening sight, these Young Americans we see surging into our schools and stores. Physically, they are more beautiful than any children we have ever bred. Mentally, they're keener. But talk to them, probe their depths. What - in a J

Clipped from
  1. St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
  2. 04 Jun 1941, Wed,
  3. Page 29

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