Trailblazing Women of Australian Public Broadcasting, 1945–1975

Trailblazing Women of Australian Public Broadcasting, 1945–1975

By Kylie Andrews

Anthem Studies in Australian History

Trailblazing women of Australian Public Broadcasting, 1945-1975 presents a compelling feminist perspective of Australian radio and television history. It resuscitates the careers of a group of female producers who strategically defied the odds and used broadcasting as a site for their activism in the decades after World War II.

Hardback, 232 Pages


July 2022

£80.00, $125.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links
  • Podcasts

About This Book

Trailblazing women of Australian Public Broadcasting, 1945-1975 offers a compelling new perspective of Australian radio and television history. It chronicles how a group of female producers defied the odds and forged remarkable careers in the traditionally male domain of public-affairs production at the ABC in the post-war decades. Kay Kinane, Catherine King, Therése Denny and Joyce Belfrage were ambitious and resourceful producers, part of the vanguard of Australian broadcasters who used mass media as a vehicle for their social and political activism. Fiercely dedicated to their audiences, they wrote, directed and produced ground-breaking documentaries and current affairs programs that celebrated Australian life, while also challenging its cultural complacency, its racism and sexism. They immersed themselves in the ABC’s many networks of collaboration and initiated a range of strategies to expand their agency and authority. With vivid descriptions of life at the ABC, it traces their careers as they crossed borders and crossed mediums, following them as they worked on location shoots and in production offices, in television studios, control rooms and radio booths. In doing so it highlights the barriers, both official and unofficial, that confronted so many women working in broadcasting after World War II.


‘Kylie Andrews’ fascinating book is a tour-de-force of feminist scholarship and media history. In rescuing the pioneering women of radio and television from the footnotes of history, it offers us not just a vivid panorama of highly talented programme-makers but an endlessly illuminating new take on post-war Australian broadcasting.’ — David Hendy, Emeritus Professor, University of Sussex, England.

‘A lively, impressively researched, and informative look at barriers faced, and battles won, by a select group of talented female producers at the ABC and beyond – battles won not only for themselves, but for the status of all women who have confronted the same attitudes and obstacles. An inspiring read.’ — Michele Hilmes, Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.

‘This is an important, overdue ‘remembering’ of women’s role in the creation of the ABC - an entertaining read to set the historical (‘herstorical’) record straight - with startling insights into the good old days when the boys ‘owned the game’. It’s an eye-opener for younger program-makers to meet the feisty women who paved the way for them.’ — Caroline Jones AO, Veteran ABC broadcaster and national patron of Women in Media.

‘This compelling and impeccably researched book uncovers the story of four colourful individuals, Joyce Belfrage, Therese Denny, Kay Kinane and Catherine King, and their outstanding contribution to Australian, and transnational, broadcasting. Battling a culture that was largely unsupportive of working women, Andrews brings their careers and achievements vividly to life.’ — Dr Kate Murphy, Visiting Fellow, Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University, UK.

‘This is a brilliant book unearthing the forgotten women of radio and television. Too often, male exploits take precedence in Australian historical recounts. Kylie Andrews has produced a work that is both entertaining and academic. Highly recommended!’ — Tracey Spicer, Broadcaster and Author.

‘In the post-war years, the ABC carved out a distinctive role as a national broadcaster, both shaping and questioning Australian identity. Kylie Andrews’ passionate, highly engaging history tells the stories of groundbreaking women who worked for the ABC in those years, demonstrating that the ABC was not only ‘built by men’; it was built by women, too’. — Professor Michelle Arrow, Department of History and Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, AUS.

‘In this lively and accessible work of historical reclamation, Kylie Andrews brings vividly to life the careers of four indomitable women at the ABC in the decades after World War II.' — Professor Bridget Griffen-Foley, Macquarie University, 

Author Information

Kylie Andrews is an historian who writes about media, production cultures and gender. Her recent research focuses on women and work in Australian public broadcasting.


Anthem Studies in Australian History

Table of Contents

List of Figures; List of Abbreviations; Preface; 1. Introduction,  Showrunners, Shot Callers and Flying Typewriters, Notes; 2. Career Snapshots, Kay Kinane, Catherine King, Therése Denny, Joyce Belfrage, Notes; 3. Welcome to the ABC, Ladies, How and Why ‘Women’s Work’ Was Marginalized at the ABC, Trapped in the Typing Pool, Acceptable Behaviour, Birds, Chicks and Old Ducks , Forbidden Domains, Contesting ‘Women’s Worlds’, Notes; 4. The New Nation-Builders, A Cuckoo in the ABC’s Nest, The Adelaide Legacy, The ‘Schoolie with the Motorbike’, The Scholarly Troublemaker, Nation-builders and Citizens but Not Feminists?, Notes; 5. Talent Was Not Enough, ABC Mentors and Gatekeepers, Opportunities Arising during Times of Disruption, Bargaining from a Position of Strength and Refusing to Be Bullied, Joyce and the ABC’s Transition to Television: A Cautionary Tale, Notes; 6. Thinking Outside the Box, Moving between Radio and TV , Manipulating the Message: Using the Press to Shape Public Personas, Embracing ‘Platform Agnostic’ Careers, Notes; 7. Timely Escapes and Bittersweet Homecomings, ‘New Ways of Living and Loving’, Notes; 8. International Adventures and Global Networking, Kay’s First Big Adventure: The Imperial Relations Trust, Some Benefits of Membership, Reversing the Tide: Taking Advantage of Polarities of Exchange, Joyce Makes the Most of Empire Employment Networks, Turning a Negative into a Positive: Therése Exploits Her Colonial Identity, Kay’s American Adventure, Networks of Collaboration and Support, Broadcasting Advocacy Goes Global, Notes; 9. Farewell to the ABC, Notes; 10. Epilogue, Revising Limited Historical Narratives, Notes; Reference List, Primary Sources, Industry Memos, Intra-ABC Communications and Reports, Personal Correspondence and Diary Entries, Audio and Audio-Visual Projects, Press, Newspaper and Magazine Articles, Interviews and Oral Histories, Industry Reports, Archive Reports and Legislation, Secondary Sources, Books and Book Chapters, Journal Articles, Conference Papers and Speeches, Websites; Index


No Podcasts for this title.
Comodo SSL