BU’s Dr Kate Murphy features on BBC Radio 4 taking about women’s history in radio.

By Dean Eastmond

Bournemouth University’s Dr Kate Murphy (Senior Lecturer in Radio Production) featured on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme this Saturday talking about the 80th anniversary of a woman presenting on the radio.

Former actress, Sheila Borrett, applied for the role of Radio Announcer in 1933 and raised a lot of controversy as her job was seen as a typically male dominated position.

“She was very glamorous with that lovely fruity voice and it’s a shame she didn’t go down well…” said Dr Murphy, who has researched the history of women in radio and the BBC.

She added. “The majority of complaint letters came from women”.

With Sheila Borrett’s first broadcast airing on the 29th July 1933, Dr Murphy explained that even though “the BBC was seen as a modern organisation”, Borrett wasn’t as popular and successful as the BBC thought she would be.

Dr Murphy continued by explaining that “there was a huge outcry so the BBC panicked”.

However 90% of positive letters were written by women.

Women had been heard on radio before Borrett, but as experts in their fields of work as opposed to presenters and announcers. Names such as Virginia Woolf were mentioned during the interview as examples of people that had appeared as guests on BBC radio.

Kate also spoke about the subject on the BBC World Service.

Listen to the full interview on The Today Programme

Dean is a student at Budmouth College in Weymouth, who is working at Bournemouth University in the Press and PR Department. He joined BU on a Sir Samuel Mico Scholarship, which provides 10 students from his college with essential work experience for four weeks over the summer.

Dr Kate Murphy talks about suffragette on BBC Radio Solent

On the centenary of suffragette Emily Wilding Davison being knocked down by the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby, BU’s Dr Kate Murphy spoke about the impact of the event on BBC Radio Solent.

Kate lectures in Radio Production and curated an exhibition in women’s history at the Women’s Library which included some of Emily Wilding Davison possessions, such as her prison diaries.

She told Drivetime presenter Steve Harris that the act had a profound effect on getting women the right to vote.

“I think the suffragettes were so iconic and important and they really did progress and start that whole movement going.

“Emily Wilding Davison was force fed 49 times and she was an incredibly brave and heroic woman I think and she died for the cause of the vote, which is quite extraordinary to think about.”

She added, however, that she did not believe that Emily intended to throw herself under the King’s horse – ultimately dying of her injuries – but that she meant to attach a protest scarf to it.

“There was a thought that she might be pinning something on the King’s Horse or the bridle, and they think now that it was a Votes for Women scarf she was going to attach, so when the horse went over the finish line it would have the sash on it, which would have been a very profound statement to have made.”

She added that there were not many more higher profile events than the Epsom at that time.

“To petition the King in that way would have been a very profound act on her behalf,” Kate said.

“But she’d done some very brave acts already – she’d been arrested many, many times, been to prison many times.”

Kate also explained that at the time of the incident 100 years ago opinion was divided on women getting the vote, and that she still didn’t think women had true equality in Parliament.

“It was a very, very contentious issue but it was the right thing – although it did take until 1928 for women to get the full vote, and even now there’s great inequality in the Houses of Parliament with MPs, so there’s still a long way to go before there’s that full political equality.”

Kate also appeared on BBC Radio Solent on Sunday morning – 100 years to the day that Emily Wilding Davison died.

Listen to the full interview