50 Stories for Fifty Years: Women's History Month

Mar 12, 2020

Laura York (Case) seated second from left in this photo among the WKMS team in the Murray State Shield from 1978.
Credit Murray State University

  It is Women's History Month, and for this story we hear from a few WKMS alumni about their unique experiences at WKMS. 

Laura York worked at WKMS from 1976 to 1978. She was a morning music host and recalls an incident with her program director.

“He came blazing in one morning and was screaming at me,” said York. “You never play two female artists back to back. Now that tells you that was a bad taboo to play to female artists back to back you always had to at least have one if not two male songs after a female artist.”


WKMS has come a long way from angry program directors over two female artists played back to back. Now the majority of hosts for NPR’s flagship news programs are female. York went on to work in television as a meteorologist in NBC and Tampa.

 

Kathy Canavan depicted in the 1972 Shield
Credit Murray State University

  In 1971 Kathy Canavan spent time working for WKMS and she decided to get her radio engineering license. She was a trailblazer in this area. She went to New York City to take the test.

“And I walked in, and I had a little miniskirt on because that's what people wore.” said Canavan. “And I looked in there had to be, well, more than 150 desks, and I was the only female I mean, this is New York City, but it was also in 1971.”

And… she got her engineering license! Canavan went on to work in journalism and later wrote a book on Abraham Lincoln’s last hours

And lastly Beth Cole worked in the radio broadcasting center in the 1960’s, before WKMS signed on

Beth Cole depicted in the "Radio Center" in the 1967 Murray State Shield yearbook.
Credit Murray State University

 the air. She was the only female student in the mix. And she was production director.

“It was kind of a running joke. It was like Beth and the boys,” said Cole. “ I'm pretty confident woman and I had leadership skills. I was not a shrinking violet as such, but it was not difficult at all to work with these guys. You know, they were all really professional, hard workers.”

Cole  went on to receive the radio center scholarship. But it was still hard for women to get jobs in the broadcasting industry when she graduated. She ended up being a school teacher. There are many more stories about strong women working at WKMS. You can share your memory here. 

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