Friday, February 14, 2014

Halloween Martin

Halloween Martin was, by most definitions, the first female disk jockey, and quite almost certainly the first in the Chicago metro. She was a former newspaper reporter in the home economic department of the Chicago Herald Examiner Newspaper. She was hired by KYW-AM in 1929 and a year later they made her the host of the Musical Clock. This was a decade before the term disc jockey was coined in the 1940s. Her program was a morning show and she wasn't just an announcer... the format of the program made her one of the first modern DJs ever.  A 1929 issue of radio Digest wrote a little more about her background:
For two and a  half years her time was occupied answering the home decoration problems  that came to the Prudence Penny department, writing her columns and giving her daily Radio talk on interior  decoration. Lectures at cooking schools  and clubs added variety to the daily  grind.

Miss Halloween Martin, was just a 28 years old DePaul University grad with some news paper experience. She gave the time, temperature and weather every 5 minutes from 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM.   The program intermixed segments of music, news and chatter on a schedule like modern commercial radio. At the time tightly scheduled  programs based on an hour "clock" were not yet the norm. The show was certainly tailored after the Alarm Klok Klub on KJBS-AM. Most of these programs seems to descend from Rambling with Gambling"which was also called "The Musical Clock" on WOR-AM in NY. That program debuted in 1925.  In 1931 the Schenectady Gazette wrote the following regarding Miss Martin:
"Listeners-in arise, dress, boil their breakfast eggs and catch the 8:15 to the accompaniment of cheery though persistent time bulletin's sent out on KYW'S musical clock by Halloween Martin. Every five minutes from 7 to 9 O'clock each morning, announcement of the exact time punctuates the program of phonograph records. Miss Martin has been the "clock" for two years, graduating from a series of talks on home decorating. which developed from her writing of household helps for the Chicago Herald-Examiner..." 
It's a tad condescending but you can tell the writer is still equating her with an announcer. Other contemporary articles continually describe her as "cheery," and/or "charming." The program ended when KYW-AM moved to Philadelphia. It was relaunched on WBBM-AM in 1934 due to it's local popularity. There the program stayed for 10 years then moved to WCFL-AM for another two before ending it's run. Through most of those years the show`s theme was a piece called "ln a Clock Store."

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