RADIO BROADCASTS. Eleanor Roosevelt had a successful career as a radio broadcaster that spanned much of her public life. One of the first notable women in radio, she delivered news commentary and human interest material and backed causes in which she believed. Her sponsored broadcasts over major networks both enlarged the concept of radio performance by individuals in public life and affirmed the right of married women to earn money on their own.
ER’s radio career began in the 1920s, when she spoke occasionally over New York stations, giving, for example, a talk in 1925 in praise of the civic ideals of the Women’s City Club.* It expanded after Franklin D. Roosevelt* was elected president in 1932. In the preinaugural period between 9 December 1932 and 24 February 1933, ER delivered a series of twelve radio commentaries sponsored by Pond’s, a cold cream manufacturer, chiefly on child raising and family relations. After the Pond’s radio series generated newspaper criticism that the future First Lady was using her name “for commercial purposes,” she announced that she intended to accept no more radio contracts (Beasley and Belgrade, 42).
In 1934, however, ER resumed commercial broadcasting. Going off-the-record at one of her women-only press conferences,* she expressed her determination to “get the money for a good cause [charity] and take the gaff ” (Beasley and Belgrade, 42). She broadcast first for a roofing company, which paid her $500 per minute, the same amount earned by the highest-paid radio stars, and then for the Simmons Mattress Company at the same rate for five commentaries on highlights of the week’s news. After that contract ended, she presented six fifteen-minute talks on education for the American typewriter industry, and in 1935 the Selby Shoe Company sponsored her broadcasts. Speaking in a personal, con-