The British Broadcasting Century with Paul Kerensa

SPECIAL: Gertrude Donisthorpe: Britain‘s 1st DJ?

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Episode notes

A special minisode championing Gertrude Donisthorpe: one of the world's first female broadcasters and arguably Britain's first DJ. Yet she's hardly to be seen in any of the history books.

Google her now, go on. What do you find? Radio silence.

We mentioned her a couple of episodes ago but didn't even know her first name. So thanks to a tweet from Dr Elizabeth Bruton of the Science Museum, I now know what the history books and the internet at large couldn't tell me. So now I want to tell you.

Gertrude Donisthorpe. This one's for you.

In 1917, she was spinning discs (of a sort), announcing the hottest tracks (the valve in the radio set was quite hot anyway) and doing shout-outs for her audience (of one, her husband). Later, wireless concerts for local troops increased her (and his) audience. But I think they need a bigger audience yet.

No recordings exist from back then, so all you have is my impression - but her words.

Also on this episode, a sneak-peek of next episode's Parliamentary reconstruction, plus Alan Pemberton's glossary of our Captain Round episode. If you struggled with any of the old lingo last episode, Alan's here to help - here on our Facebook page: 

...which you can of course 'like', or 'join' our Facebook 'group'. We're also on Twitter and on Patreon with extra bonus things, including unedited video interviews with some of our previous guests, who you'll have heard in bitesize audio form on the podcast. Or your tips are always welcome on Paypal, to keep us in books and web-hosting. Thanks if you do!

Here's a little blog post I've written about Gertrude Donisthorpe. Why? Because: see bit above about her ungooglability. If she is Britain's first DJ, and one of the first female broadcasters IN THE WORLD, she needs a bit more on the internet about her.

+ I mention in the episode a 1922-23 booklet written by Captain H Donisthorpe: Wireless at Home - one of the earliest books on radio, a how-to guide written before there was much to listen to. Well I couldn't resist - I found a copy online, and there's a video of me flicking through bits of it here.

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