Document Type

Student Research Paper


Spring 2019

Academic Department



Since the 1920s, women have been an integral part of the radio industry both as originators and as consumers, yet they have experienced near exclusion from histories and analyses on the subject. This thesis project explores the intersection of gender, sound and history through a cultural and historical analysis of female voices in American radio. The analysis includes an examination of the history of silencing women in the public sphere, the on-going conversation surrounding the suitability of female voices for broadcast and modern critiques of female voices. As more women's voices are heard on the radio, the ways gender hierarchies are heard and interpreted in sound environments change. This research seeks to address the following question: has modern radio programming helped to rework the gendered dimensions of the public and private space, and shape the perception of the female voice in the public sphere? The purpose of this thesis project is to explore the ways in which power and agency may be expressed by women in a traditionally gendered soundscape to breakdown gender biases in the radio industry. Women in radio are rarely given the platform to respond to the critiques and complaints made about their voices or to share their thoughts on the ideal “radio voice”. To reclaim this conversation, interviews were conducted with female radio hosts and announcers to help illustrate their experiences and allow them to share their own narratives.


COM 499 HNR Honors in the Discipline