A number of talented women rose to the upper echelons of their fields in the early years of broadcasting. World War II had a significant impact on some women's opportunities, as many stations on the "home front" found themselves suddenly dependent on female labor. After the war was over, many of these women were able to retain their jobs, or to move on to others in the field, based upon the abilities and the skills that they had acquired.

Writers' work was essential in shaping the new media. With the exception of talk programming, everything on radio or TV--from the serials to the sales pitches--required scripting. This allowed some skillful and prolific women to write their way into important positions within the industries.

Many singers, actresses and entertainers chose to adapt their talents to suit the new formats and technologies. Some of these women went on to become producers or executives, while others remained faithful to their artistic crafts throughout their careers. Learn more about four important contributors to broadcasting history.


Meserand's first on-air job was as a station's "Musical Clock Girl," who popped up every hour on the hour to give the time of day. In 1949, she began producing for WOR-TV. In 1951 Meserand produced the acclaimed wilderness series "Wildlife, Unlimited".

While Edythe Meserand did spend a good deal of time on the air, it was in her role as an executive that she proved to be a true innovator in the broadcasting world: Meserand is acknowledged to be the first person, male or female, to found an actual radio newsroom. She also produced what is considered the first true radio documentary.

After leaving WOR in 1956, Meserand went on to found her own advertising agency, and run her own tree farm in Albany, New York.

Meserand was the first president of American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT). This organization was founded in response to a decision on the part of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) to dissolve its "women's division." Fearful that the overall concerns of women within the industry would not be given a voice, some female members of NAB decided to found their own organization. Since its inception, AWRT has served as an advocate for women within the broadcasting field, while also providing its members with job information services and professional development programs. Today, AWRT is considered the preeminent organization for women in the fields of radio and television. They have over 2,000 members and are headquartered in McLean, Virginia. In 1987, American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) would name its most prestigious award after her. The "Edythe J. Meserand Distinguished Broadcaster Award" is given out annually by the organization.

Read more about Edthye Meserand's collection

Inga Rundvold was born in Norway in 1920, and raised in the Washington DC area. She began modeling while working full time as a secretary and  would often go and pose on her lunch hour. Rundvold  held a modeling contract with the Conover Agency in New York City, one of the largest modeling agencies in the world at the time. In 1942, she was chosen as one of three "girls" to be photographed for "Life" magazine wearing the first, official uniforms of the Women's Army Corps (WAC). This image would also be sent out to newspapers and be reprinted coast to coast. Even well into her small-screen career, Rundvold spent a lot of her time in front of the still camera.

Beginning in 1945, Rundvold authored a daily beauty and fashion column for the "Washington Times-Herald" newspaper, called "Beauty Forever." Every day for five years she was photographed for the column wearing a different hat. Her head-gear choices ran the gamut from bonnets to pillboxes, from tams to skull caps, from those with feathers to those with veils. The Library of American Broadcasting houses hundreds of these headdress images.

Rundvold was largely recognized as the First Lady of Washington, DC television. She was one of the first demonstrators of color broadcasting in 1950, at several special presentations made to the Federal Communications Commission. Ruhnvold joined WRC-TV in 1950. During her 17 years with the station, she would act, create, produce, write, research, promote and host a variety of programs. Her telecasts were a mix of fashion and beauty tips combined with cooking segments, exercise segments, and decorating and marriage advice as well as one-on-one interviews with celebrities and experts in various fields. Her focus ultimately evolved and came to address more weighty issues. Over the years Rundvold interviewed such show biz personalities as Bob Hope, Carol Channing, Danny Kaye, Milton Berle and such political figures as the Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

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Julie Stevens was an American actress of stage, film, television and radio. Stevens performed on Broadway for many years, in the early 1940s. In 1942, she took on the title role of "Kitty Foyle" in the daily radio serial based on the film which starred Ginger Rogers.

She is best remembered for playing the part of Helen Trent on the long-running radio serial "The Romance of Helen Trent." Stevens played the role for sixteen years, beginning in 1944. Stevens was not the first actress to play the role of Helen, but did play it the longest, and was performing the role up to the show's final broadcast in 1960. The readers of "Radio-TV Mirror" twice voted Stevens as most outstanding daytime radio actress, in the years 1957-1958, and 1958-1959.

At the same time as she portrayed this character, Stevens also worked on the dramatic TV series "Big Town." Her character was a newspaper reporter named Lorilei, defying stereotyped depictions of women as wives, mothers, or working in traditionally female-dominated occupations of the time.

After the conclusion of "The Romance of Helen Trent" in 1960, Stevens devoted her time to her family, and to working in local theatre in the Cape Cod, Massachusetts area. She also briefly hosted an area radio show which included theatrical reviews, among other topics.

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Mona Kent was a prolific American writer for radio and television as well as the author of a novel and other works. Beginning her professional writing career in Denver in the 1930s, she reportedly wrote radio soap operas.

After moving to Chicago, Kent created her most famous and long-lasting work, the radio soap "Portia Faces Life." Mona Kent wrote every episode. The show aired daily over the NBC radio network in 15-minute installments. It told the ongoing story of Portia Blake, a young, female attorney whose husband had died before the series began leaving our heroine to raise their son, Dickie, all alone. Kent told "Time" magazine in September of 1949, "Every soap-opera heroine…is, by definition, a much stronger person than her husband or any man in her orbit.”

When "Portia Faces Life" went off the airwaves in 1953, it left the radio audience with one of the greatest cliffhangers of all time: Portia had just been convicted of a murder she hadn't committed and was about to be taken off to jail. The program aired for 13 years, from 1940 to 1953. The Library of American Broadcasting holds over 1,000 scripts that exist in the Mona Kent collection.

With the advent of television, Ms. Kent turned her writing skills to that medium, penning episodes of the early sci-fi series "Captain Video and His Video Rangers." She also continued to write for various soap operas. In 1950, Mona Kent was tapped by author Max Wylie to write about daytime dramas for his book "Radio and Television Writing." Mona Kent's chapter, titled "Perpetual Emotion," outlines the mechanics, meaning, and (in her words) the "main ingredients" for a successful soap.

During her life, Ms. Kent also found time to write numerous short stories, radio and TV scripts, adaptations, and articles as well as write and publish a novel titled "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall". A pulp fiction-y paperback, "Mirror" told the story of Dell Thornton, the writer of "syrupy soap operas for radio" who "destroyed everything she loved."

Read more about Mona Kent's collection