This is the Broadcast History section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer
Last update 10/8/02

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Who were the first fulltime radio announcers?

At KDKA it was Harold W. Arlin. He also was the first play by play sports announcer there. The famous Graham MacNamee was the first announcer at WEAF, New York, rivaled at the time by Norman Brokenshire at WJZ.

The First African-American announcer was Jack Cooper on Station WSBC, Chicago, in 1929.

If we want to talk "part time", then we are probably talking about Some of the early people like Doc Herrold, Frank Conrad, or folks from WHA. As far as first female announcer, it was likely Cybil Herrold.

5a) Who were some of the first women in radio?

  • Marie (Mrs. Robert) Zimmerman - The first woman to own and operate a radio station. WIAE, Vinton, IA operated from July, 1922 to July, 1923. (Another early station: KFXY, Flagstaff, AZ. Mary Costigan signed on this station on 12/5/25, and ran it from her theater until she sold it in 1932, the station moving to Yuma, AZ.)
  • Sybil Herrold - Wife of pioneer Charles "Doc" Herrold. She was so adept at Morse Code that she taught courses at the Herrold College of Wireless in San Jose. She was also on the air at her husband's station, playing phonograph records and doing some announcing, as early as 1912.
  • Vaughn DeLeath - known as the "Original Radio Girl" because she sang for several of Lee DeForest's demonstrations of radio beginning in January 1920. DeLeath went on to become Station Manager of WDT New York in 1923, and was later a personality on several stations, including the morning host at WMCA.
  • Eunice Randall - one of the earliest female engineers, she not only ran her own amateur station (which she built) but went on to be perhaps the first female announcer in Boston, on the AMRAD station 1XE (later WGI) around 1918.
  • Bertha Brainard - First female announcer in New York, she was on the air at WJZ in 1921, doing a nightly program of theatre reviews and commentary called "Broadcasting Broadway".
  • Mary Texanna Loomis - the first woman to become director of a radio school, she ran the College of Radio Engineering in Washington DC in the early 1920s. She was cousin to Mahlon Loomis.
  • Several women became program managers (what would today be called Program Directors), including Vaughn DeLeath (WDT in New York, in 1923) and Eleanor Poehler (WLAG in Minneapolis, 1922). Bertha Brainard was probably the first female network executive, being promoted to a management post with NBC Blue in late 1927.
Television note: According to AT&T, the first woman to be broadcast on television in the US was Edna Mae Horner, shown on the demonstration from AT&T in Washington to NYC on April 7, 1927.