Much is already known about the legendary women performers, comedians, and actors who have had their own shows or appeared
as guests on the radio, but such stars as Judy Canova (1916-1983) [picture],
Marian Jordan (1897-1961) [picture] of Fibber McGee and Molly, Gracie Allen (1902-1964) [picture],
and Eve Arden (1912-1990) represent only a fraction of the female stars found in the Library's collections. Perhaps all of
the major newsmakers of the day in all professions have appeared on the radio—Mamie Eisenhower (1896-1979), Bess Truman (1885-1982),
birth control advocate Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), pilot Amelia Earhart, athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911-1956), writer
and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960), and religious leader Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)—whose skillful use
of the radio made her one of the most famous evangelists of her time, are among them. The ubiquitous Eleanor Roosevelt, an
extremely effective communicator on the radio, used this skill to great political and social advantage and can be heard on
hundreds of broadcasts.
Mary Margaret McBride
Other once-influential radio personalities, such as Mary Margaret McBride (1899-1976), are not as well known today (see illustration in WOR Collection). Originally employed as a print journalist, McBride hosted an extremely popular daily radio program during
the late 1930s, the 1940s, and the 1950s. Her audience was composed mainly of women.2 Her show mixed spontaneous interviews with notable guests, many of whom were women, and useful information with a heavy dose
of advertising targeted at women. Topics discussed on her show included prostitution, unwed mothers, marriage in the modern
world, and pioneering women. The program offered an alternative to the afternoon soap operas and demonstrated that women's
interests ranged beyond cleaning tips and recipes. McBride maintained complete editorial and commercial control over her program
and in doing so made lasting changes in the style of radio talk shows.
The Cynthia Lowry/Mary Margaret McBride Collection at the Library of Congress includes more than twelve hundred hours of interview programs and related broadcasts. All phases
of McBride's radio career, from 1935 to the 1970s, are represented. Access to the collection is available through SONIC, where
you can search by guest name or date of broadcast.