Friday, November 30, 2012

Jessie Young's Radio Cake

KMA signed on in 1925, an pioneer station in radioland. Jessie Young started at KMA-AM in Shenandoah, Iowa in 1926. She had performed on the station in a choir on it's first broadcasting day on January 17th. Later she went on to singing duets with her husband Floyd on air.  Then she began writing advertising copy and working as an announcer. Then she got her own show. The "Stitch and Chat Club"was pure mid-western Americana. The show gained local popularity and was renamed renamed "A Visit with Jessie Young," after it's increasingly popular host. More here.

It was a homemaker show, not a cooking show. You have to remember that in some of these rural areas there was no electricity. So home making didn't include modern conveniences like electric stoves, irons or washing machines; and the microwave wasn't to debut at retail for another 2 decades. Jessie wasn't teaching about bisquick pancakes. He had to cover soap-making, lard-saving, meat smoking, canning, curing, salting, and the butchering of water fowl. KMA engineers wired her home so that on Saturdays the show could include her family and be broadcast from her kitchen. Her son Robert performed playing the Novacord and she and her husband Floyd sang harmony. Her mother Rosa Susanka appeared sometimes as well. Her other children Eileen, Ronnie and Richard often appeared as well. The book Neighboring on the Air by Evelyn Birkby covers her story in great detail.

In 1942 she relocated to Philadelphia with her family and did another show for 2 years. sick of damn Yankees they went back to the Midwest and resettled in Nebraska and broadcast from KFAB. She relocated to Colorado and then began taping her program and mailing them in to KFAB. In 1946 she launched a magazine based on her radio program which then was in it's 20th year. She retired from broadcastign in 1955, but continued to publish the magazine until 1980!  By then she had authored 20 books on the various home making arts including sewing and cooking.She died in 1987.