It had to happen someday, but the first official spurning of Harvard aid by a Radcliffe undergraduate group in favor of support from the slide-rule heaven down the river had a particularly ironic twist to it. When Radio Radcliffe last month switched allegiance to WMIT from the Harvard radio station WHRB, those with long memories brooded on the action, for they remembered that RR was itself brought into the world by WHRB.
Having Radcliffe girls broadcasting first started as a publicity stunt for WHRB ten years ago. The Harvard station was then plugging for a larger audience, and used some 'Cliffedwellers as announcers and listener-lure.
But the audience expanded to radios WHRB hadn't even considered--Radcliffe radios. The few girl announcers liked broadcasting so much that they asked the Annex for a separate station. In May 1943 a charter was granted to the small group, led by Ronnie Phoenix '44, who became the first president.
Miss Phoenix possessed not only a great deal of energy but a lively morbid imagination as well. It is rumored that she was the originator of the legend of The Beast that Walks in the Night, a horrid mythical creature that perpetrates outrageous crimes upon unsuspecting announcers.
Soon the second floor of the Cliffe Field House--which had been used as a dressing room for gym students--was invaded by microphones, record players, and a large electric clock. Most of this early equipment was bought by the girls themselves.
Dean Speaks First
Then early in the summer, the voices of Dean Mildred P. Sherman and the Student Government president traveled from the top of the Field House, through the electric power lines, and into Annex receiving sets--and Radio Radcliffe officially began its life.
During the next year, station members, sprinkled book reviews, poetry readings, and college news through its evenings of music. Course assignments for Music 1 became a popular portion of the weekly schedule.
As the station continued, more and more records were needed. Candidates made daily jaunts to the Radcliffe music library to get material for programs. A lucky gift in 1945 gave the organization its collection, which is kept with its additions in a long covered bench. A borrowing system was later worked out with McKenna's and Briggs and Briggs.
With WHRB's help, the station grew and became more efficient. On November 5, 1950, Radcliffe members joyfully celebrated their 4000th night of broadcasting, with a tea in the Field House for the Radcliffe administration.
From its beginning, Radio Radcliffe had unofficial connection with the Harvard Network. Harvard members lent records, exchanged programs, gave advice and reprimands, and repaired the broadcasting equipment.
Escape to Freedom
In 1950, the Harvard station proposed a complete merger of the two stations, but Radio Radcliffe refused, feeling that girls would then receive subordinate positions. The growing Annex station later became even more daring, and decided to scrap all connections and thus end possible "domination" by the Network.
WHRB took the big step in March last year, formally severing all connections with the brother group. From then until a few weeks ago, technical work was done by individual students at Harvard and Tech.
Radcliffe officially switched loyalties last month, with an announcement that program exchanges with WMIT will take place next year. Since then, Techmen have repaired the Annex transmitter so that the station can be heard clearly-in all brick dormitories.
The Tech affiliation with Radio Radcliffe came about in a rather hap-hazard manner. A 'Cliffe staffer took her date, an M.I.T. student, on a tour of the plant one day and pointed out some equipment that was in poor shape. Always attentive to his girl friend's problems, the Tech man showed up a few days later with a host of electrically-oriented companions who proceeded to work out the difficulties in no time. Thus began a beautiful friendship with no fear of dominance--M.I.T. is too far away.
WHRB, after it recovered from a case of hurt pride, bravely declared it would be an uninterested observer from here on. Nevertheless, the sister of WHRB's president has circulated a petition at Radcliffe endorsing the installation of a WHRB transmitter at Radcliffe.
R-squared is now conducting an unofficial "lets-keep-'em-out" campaign. Members of WHRB are quietly being given the cold shoulder, and girls have been instructed to keep them from entering the broadcasting area. "But they still keep coming back," observed one Cliffedweller.
Group Numbers 15
Without Harvard, Radio, Radcliffe's staff at present consists of 15 active members, and several more inactive ones. Membership is divided into announcers--who write shows and announce--and tech girls, who run controls. Actually, most members of Radio Radcliffe can do either more or less competently, and, indeed, often have to in the one-man shows of the reading-period orgies.
The president of Radio Radcliffe, Judith Kapstein '54, coordinates the activities of the station and is in charge of public relations. The production director, Martha K. Rowland, is in charge of the production managers (or announcers) and helps with candidate training. Joanne Gilbert, '54, holds both the post of program director, choosing shows, and classical music director, selecting music to be played on the programs. Elizabeth Raeder '53, business manager, solicits advertising, and is in charge of the financial affairs of the station.
Radio Radcliffe puts on shows all year, from 7:30 p.m. to 12 midnight, Monday through Friday. Such programs range from light opera to Gilbert and Sullivan, to choral works, to poetry readings, to symphonies and ballads. The aim is to give any girl who listens to the station the kind of music she wants to hear, no matter what her taste may be. In addition, the Music I assignment is played when weekly, as a college service, and this year material from Music 121 was played. Poetry readings were given for one of the English courses.
In reading period, Radio Radcliffe presents "orgies"; a week of music from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., with a minimum of announcing. Orgies are done as one-man shows, except for the 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, which is two man.
Candidates are trained by the production director, and the technical director. They are trained either for production or tech; a few have trained for both at once, with moderately good results. Tech candidates simply learn to handle controls; production candidates learn announcing and script-writing. Both types of candidates come up for "nights", when they watch the working of the station and the activities of experienced members. One high spot of the period is an appearance on a specially show, such as "Tommy Valentine's Day", for an interview; another, for the announcers, is announcing training consisting of reading an Oxydol ad, an introduction to a MaPerkins show, and several soap-opera and mystery skits. Candidates are written up in their own comment book, which they are required to read. At the end of their training period, they are given an examination for their respective specialties, and, if they pass, admitted to membership in Radio Radcliffe.
A Day Goes This Way
The typical night of a Radio Radcliffe announcer actually begins at four p.m. in the afternoon, when she picks up the records for the evening's program (this is why an RR announcer is called a program manager.) She goes to Briggs and Briggs and asks to see the week's schedule, on which, selected by the program director, are the records for her night She withdraws these records, filling in any which happen to be out of stock with similar ones, and carries them home.
The scene now shifts to a little before 7 p.m. Records in low, the P.M. opens the locked field house and the Radcliffe studio upstairs. She switches on lights, and the control board, and waits for the tech girl to arrive.
When she does, the two girls set the clock (which is generally about two minutes off), arrange the records in order, and ready scripts on the microphone table. By this time, it is pretty nearly 7:28:40, the official time for the station to go on the air. The door to the studio and the door to the control room are carefully closed (one cardinal rule for every announcer it soon becomes as natural as breathing), and both girls settle down to watch the clock. 7:28:20--28:30--35--the announcer signals sharply, the tech girl fiddles with controls, and the opening bars of the triumphal march from Aida, Radio Radcliffe's theme, go over the air. Another quick signal, the music cuts down. The announcer takes a deep breath. "This is WRRB, Radio Radcliffe, now signing on the air."
The evening is usually fairly uneventful after that. The P. M. announces each show, announces the title, performers, and conductor of each record, closes the show by giving record credits. Between shows she may read short plugs from advertisers, or announce the time. While a record is playing she doesn't need to talk, so she generally uses the opportunity to catch up on knitting or studying.
The tech girl, on the other hand, is usually busier. She has to "ride the gain", seeing that the meter on the control board doesn't coast up into the red area which means that listeners are hearing an unpleasant shrill shriek instead of music. And between shows, when very often one theme has to be faded down, another theme faded up and down, and the first record for a show started all within about two minutes, the tech girl often wishes she bad three arms. The tech girl also has to "cue" a record, seeing that it starts at the beginning of the music, neither with a long pause before-hand, nor in the middle of the first movement.
John's Other Wife
The tech girl has one consolation, though. Nearby Boston station WHDR has a very powerful transmitter; and over the control room monitor, if she is so minded, she can hear every word of Gang-Busters or John's Other Wife.
This is all standard procedure, but sometimes something goes wrong. For instance, a show may have been mistimed; and the two girls may find them selves with fifteen minutes at the end of a show and nothing to play in them. Often they take the easy way out, and simply replay part of the show. The proper procedure, however is to "pull" records from the library. Since most of these records are 78 r.p.m., quite a few of them have to be pulled, very often in a hurry. Dead time is the P. M. 's chief nightmare.
Another nightmare is the "back" the production mistake that goes over the air. Backs may be unavoidable; a phone call in the middle of an announcement, a knock on the door, something falling, or a car honking below. Hacks may be small, such as a slight mistake in wording an announcement. And hacks may be heinous, such as forgetting a plug or mis-naming a record or forgetting to give record credits to the store lending records for a show. And there are tech hacks too; when the P.M. announces "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", for instance, and the tech girl plays "Blue Skies"; or when a record starts with an eerie screetch, or when a 78 record in played at 33 1/3 speed.
But more often than not the girls achieve that announcers dream, a hackless night. At about 11:45 the announcer calls the Weather Bureau and gets the forecast for the next day. The two girls begin sorting records, and putting them back into envelopes. At about three minutes of midnight, the last show is brought to a close.
Then the final announcement, from "Radio Station WRRB now leaves the air" to "signing off for . . . on controls, and the entire staff of Radio Radcliffe." She gives the time; signals to her control girl. Again the triumphal march goes over the air; this time the whole march is played, the only time a theme is played in full at Radio Radcliffe. Then the control board is switched off till 7:28:40 the next night.
The tech girl and the P.M. straighten up the studio, collect their varied belongings (the P.M. picking up the records) bid each other good night, and go home to bed. The tech girl is through for the week; but the P.M.'s night will not really be over until about 9:30 the next morning, when she returns the records to Briggs and Briggs.
New Plans for Fall
Next year should be different, for Tech and Radcliffe have ambitious plans. The Annex station will move into new, larger quarters in the Holmes Hall basement, across the hall from the Cliffe music library. Studies will be twice the size of the present rooms. The control room will be flanked by two broadcasting studies, one of which could be used for "live" programs.
Being constructed now is a new console, or control panel, to take care of larger coverage. Over the summer WMIT and WRRB will be officially attached by a special telephone line which will relay exchanged programs Tech has lines to local auditoriums, and Radcliffe plans to receive programs called "remotes" relayed through WMIT from these sources. WRRB eventually hopes to have its own lines for remotes.
Radio Radcliffe plans to extend hours as well as program sources. Tech's library broadcasts an all-day classical musical program which Radcliffe girls could hear from 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. WRRB will send its own programs over the air during the evening until midnight, as at present.
There is just one unsettled matter. When Radio Radcliffe moves into Rolmes Hall, what will happen to the fabled Beast?