Between 1926 and 1938, the Foreign Department of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) played a central role in transnational broadcasting. Initially headed by a man, Major C. F. Atkinson, it would grow to become largely the domain of women. Starting in 1933, at the helm was Isa Benzie, an Oxford graduate who had joined the BBC in 1927 as Atkinson's secretary. Realizing her potential, he trained and encouraged her to deputize for him, and she was his natural successor when he resigned his post. In 1930, on Benzie's recommendation, her great friend Janet Quigley was recruited to the department. Together they oversaw international relays—the exchange of programs between different countries of the world. Benzie oversaw Europe, and Quigley, the United States. The two women operated in an area that was overwhelmingly peopled by men, and this article considers the significance of their work at a time when the gendering of broadcasting roles was the norm.
Relay Women: Isa Benzie, Janet Quigley and the BBC's Foreign Department, 1930–38
Kate Murphy is a principal academic at Bournemouth University, where she has worked since 2012. Prior to her academic career she worked for the BBC for twenty-four years, primarily as a producer on Radio 4 Woman's Hour. She is the author of Behind the Wireless: A History of Early Women at the BBC (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
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Kate Murphy; Relay Women: Isa Benzie, Janet Quigley and the BBC's Foreign Department, 1930–38. Feminist Media Histories 1 July 2019; 5 (3): 114–139. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2019.5.3.114
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