If you think of the history of the media in Spain, you may think of it as masculine. It is taken for granted that the pioneers of journalism and the media in general in Spain were men,which is to reduce the story by forgetting complete formats (such as fashion magazines) or to erase from the memory women who were already there in those beginning. Because women were in the history of the media. In the early days of radio, women were on shows, behind the micros in administrative positions or in the radio advertising environment. In the 1930s, in fact, the presence of women on the radio in Spain was very numerous and, most interestingly, the pay was completely equal between male and female professionals.
What determined how much you charged was the level reached by the announcers, not whether they were men or women (which was not the norm in any sector in those years). The data on these pioneers of radio in Spain were provided a few years ago by Sílvia Espinosa in an article in the Arenal magazine . Their contributions allow us to discover these pioneering female radio presenters and professionals, but also the work they did in radio advertising. The first trace of a professional linked to radio advertising appears, according to the data provided by their conclusions, in 1926, on Radio Barcelona, the first radio station in Spain. The only thing known about her is that her name was Rosa and that she was the secretary of the advertising department.
Even so, her work went beyond management and administration and, from what Espinosa contributes, includes copying and account manager jobs. Rosa wrote the advertising texts that were later read on the air and managed which campaigns had to go on the air. When radio stations were starting up, male voices dominated on the air, but that soon began to change. Female voices entered the airwaves. They did it for a question of acoustics (they sounded better) but also for one of targets. Women were the main listeners of the radio, as they were the ones at home during broadcast hours. In addition, those responsible for the first commercial radio stations to appear in Europe and North America realized that women were a very attractive audience in terms of potential income.
They were already the recipients of a large part of the publicity that was published in the press. “Loyalty to women as listeners meant in addition to having a stable audience, opening an easily exploitable commercial line”, explains the researcher in her conclusions. With female shows come female ads Thus, the ‘female programs’ began to appear. In Spain, it was these programs that inaugurated the magazine genre, with much more relaxed content. Brands also entered those magazines.
There were sections and sponsored content, such as the clinics (which already existed in the 1930s, although the ones that have most caught on in popular culture and in the collective memory are those from the postwar period, with Elena Francis at the helm ) and also advertisements. Those commercials were voiced by pioneer women in radio. María Cinta Balagué was the great pioneer, with a program ‘for women’ that premiered in 1926. Her program was completely voiced by her and was written by a group of women, writers and screenwriters, who created the texts of the different sections. The program also collected the opinions of the listeners. It was the first, but not the only one. In the 1930s, Espinosa recalls, radio took a qualitative leap in Spain and also became feminized. The female announcers also reached other sections, such as the news programs (Josefina Carabias, for example, was not only a pioneer in parliamentary journalism, but also the one responsible for the news of one of the Madrid radio stations), but they also continued in variety shows and beauty topics, tips and the like.
Their offices are sponsored by all kinds of brands that want to reach consumers. And that is why, in the end, women appear in those advertisements and content linked to brands from the early days of radio. As Sílvia Espinosa reflects in her research, given that women are the first great listeners and programs are launched to connect with them, women would also be the clearest voice to connect with these consumers. “Who better than a woman to talk to another woman about feminine issues or products?”, Says the researcher in her article.