The Daily Beast, an online news magazine, published a slide show drawn from a recent Newsweek article about the prominent role played by women at NPR, from its earliest days to the present.
Over the years, I’ve been asked about how and why women do seem to be better positioned in our industry–at both the national and local levels. I think some of this is explained in the text accompanying the slide show. But I didn’t see anything about salaries. Certainly in the early days of modern public radio (which I would say begins with the creation of NPR in 1971), employees in our industry were not well paid. The “stars” received considerably less than the stars of commercial broadcasting–journalists and entertainers; and, behind-the-scenes staff received even less.
Here at NCPR, we attracted a lot of women because, well, men in most cases wouldn’t take these jobs for the salaries we offered. I was hired in 1980 for the fabulous annual stipend of $7,000. You can add in inflation and everything else you think relevant and $7,000 a year, even thirty-plus years ago, was not really a living wage. And, if you were the primary wage-earner in your family, you’d need at least one part-time job to supplement this pittance.
These days, the NCPR staff is paid competitively for comparable jobs in our region and our salaries are equal to or slightly better than salaries for similar positions at similar public radio stations across the country.
Oh, and this: for decades, NCPR has been officially recognized by the federal government as a woman-managed broadcasting entity. This means that most key managerial positions are held by women.
By the way, if you want to see photos of NCPR staff (men and women alike), here’s a link to our staff contact page. And if you’re interested in a blog entry Brian Mann posted a few months ago about women who occupy leadership roles of all kinds across the Adirondack North Country, here’s a link to that.
Okay, this is a bit goofy, but I’m gonna ask it anyway: who is your favorite woman broadcaster–in public or commercial broadcasting, locally or nationally?