Women’s Hour – The Changing Sound of a Broadcasting Legend

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September 12, 2012 by dontbringlulubook

Women's Hour - Presenter Jenni Murray

Women’s Hour – Presenter Jenni Murray

When Women’s Hour was started on BBC’s Light Programme channel 66 years ago, it was designed to be exactly that – an hour of discussion, information and comedy for women.

The programme was ground breaking – there had never been a show just for the girls. This said – it was presented by a man, of course. Men’s voices in the then patriarchal world of broadcasting were all that was known. At the time of its launch in 1946, Alan Ivieson would fill the airwaves every day at 2pm with things women should know – ‘how to cook in a time of rationing’ and ‘how to iron your husband’s suit’.

A lot has changed since then. It’s now broadcast on BBC Radio Four – where it was moved to in 1973.  Many presenters have hosted Women’s Hour – one of the most notable being Jenni Murray who has been in place since 1987 and remains there today.

In its current format, the first 45 minutes of the programme consists of reports, interviews and debates on health, education, cultural and political topics aimed at women and mothers. Though most of the content is less focused on homemaking than it was in 1946, recipes and cookery shows still have a place in Women’s Hour.

The last 15 minutes are taken up with short-run drama. Recent research shows that this programme, which was designed for girls over a half a century ago, is not only succeeding in pleasing its target market. Around a third of listeners are, in fact, male.


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