Jacqueline Hochheiser, Corporate Communications
Edythe Meserand was a trailblazing journalist based in New York, who made significant contributions to the field of radio broadcast journalism. She began her career in the 1920s, and over time, Meserand became one of the most prominent and influential female journalists of her time.
Meserand’s interest in radio broadcasting began in the early 20th centry when the medium was still in its infancy. During this time, radio stations lacked in variety, in that they were mainly comprised of musical entertainment rather than things like news or talk shows. Meserand was hired for her first job in 1926 as an assistant in the press office of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), then a newly formed station.
At NBC, Meserand had the privilege of working and training with Margaret Cuthbert, the director of talks, and Bertha Brainard, the director of programing. Cuthbert and Brainard became major influences for Meserand and helped shape her aspirations to further her career, because she saw men working alongside them who respected their opinions and treated them, more or less, as equals.
In 1931, Meserand left NBC to work for Hearst radio stations as the director of promotions for their ten stations. She was also known as the “Musical Clock Girl” at Hearst as part of her job was to announce the time of day, play music and deliver the news.
She stayed on for number of years at Hearst before moving on to WOR, a New York-based radio station, in 1937 as the assistant news director. It was here that Meserand truly began to find her own footing and start to create an impact on the industry. Her position alone made her the first woman in radio to assign reporters to stories and to help determine the entertainment that aired on the station.
Later at WOR, Meserand also played a major role in designing what is now considered the modern radio newsroom. She even produced some of the first radio news documentaries in which she used a new technique, incorporating realistic background sound effects. Her role in the creation of the first newsroom operation proved timely as the start of WWII in 1939 necessitated regular updates to the public on the status of the war. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 28 million households owned a radio by the early 1940s, claiming the most dominant medium for news and entertainment at the time. Meserand also organized the station’s enduring Children’s Christmas Fund Drive that rallied listeners to donate toys for children in need during the holiday season.
In 1951, Meserand founded American Women in Radio and Television (AWRT) and served as its president. The organization’s goal was to unite and empower women who worked, or aspired to work in the radio and television industry. This organization is still active today, although known by a different name (Alliance for Women in Media), with the mission of connecting, recognizing and inspiring women across the media industry.
A year later, Meserand retired from WOR and moved to a tree farm in Charleston, New York, where she started an advertising agency and managed radio and television campaigns for Mary Anne Krupsak, the former Lieutenant Governor of New York.
In her later life during the 1970s, Meserand continued to support her local community. She became her town historian and the founding chairman of the Charleston Historical Society, where she helped to save the town’s first Baptist church. She eventually passed away in 1997 at the age of 88 as an influential figure in the broadcast journalism world.
Edythe Meserand was a prominent female broadcast journalist who made a significant impact on the field of journalism. Her pioneering work in radio broadcasting helped to pave the way for future generations of women journalists. Her legacy continues to inspire journalists today, and serves as a testament to the power of perseverance and the importance of pursuing one’s dreams.
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