WNYC WWII broadcasts at the National Library of Norway

History Note: Volume 2, Issue 11

Friday, March 18, 2011 - 12:00 AM

From May, 1934 to April, 1948 Gladys M. Petch was heard regularly over WNYC talking about Norway. The programs Sunlit Norway Calls, Spirit of the Vikings, and News of Norway were underwritten by the Royal Norwegian Information Service. While most of these broadcasts were aired via transcription disc, it appears that during WWII, Petch was in the WNYC studios, as evidenced by these broadcasts we found at the National Library of Norway site.

In this WNYC broadcast from February 17, 1942 Petch interviews Mrs. Johanesson, a recent escapee from Nazi occupied Norway.

In this WNYC broadcast from December 31, 1942 Petch presents a special Christmas program about Norwegian struggle against the Nazis.

The Norwegian collection includes more than a dozen of these WNYC sourced broadcasts often beginning with our newscaster and a reference to "your city station" or "city station listeners" and closing with "This Municipal Broadcasting System" or "This is New York's Own Station". Listen to some of them at: National Library of Norway.

Petch, a native of Norway, came to the United States in 1928 after broadcasting in Europe, including a stint teaching English over the air in Oslo. She reportedly was also the first English language speaker to broadcast from Rome and Prague.  Described as a "radio consultant" to the Royal Norwegian Information Services, Petch had signed up with the Chicago-based Redpath Bureau, an agency for speakers and lecturers. In their promotional literature in the 1940s they described her as "the woman with the perfect radio voice." They went on to say:

"Though naturally and decidedly feminine, Mrs. Petch's voice is possessed of a clearness rarely associated with female radio artists. Her delightful speaking accents are transmitted without distortion, leaving with the listener an impression of extraordinary vocal quality. Her descriptions of the land of the Vikings are vivid and life-like. Her views and depictions of the works of Sigrid Undset and Ibsen, of the triumphs of Amundsen, are exceedingly entertaining and educational..."

Writing in the January-February, 1946 WNYC Masterwork Bulletin, outgoing Station Director Morris Novik commented: "Mrs. Petch brings you many interesting human interest stories of the people of Norway including some she just picked up on her recent trip to Oslo where she had an audience with King Haakon who commended her on the fine work she did during the war for the Norwegian people."

For a look at Petch's Redpath Bureau brochures check out the University of Iowa library collections. Many thanks to retired broadcaster and public relations man, Walt Santner and Ken Sims for bringing Gladys M. Petch to our attention and providing a load of links to her broadcasts and brochures. Thanks also to Lisbeth.Johannessen and Rudi Pedersen, Sound Engineer at the National Library of Norway.

Gladys Petch doing an NBC broadcast in the early 1930s wearing a traditional Norwegian peasant costume.

The above photo is from the December, 1931 edition of Radio Digest. It illustrated a piece written by Petch titled, "Blondes Preferred But ---Where Are They?" The magazine introduces her by saying she was on "her fourth broadcasting trip to the U.S. where she has been lecturing on the traditions, customs, literature and present day life of Norway."


Broadcast by WNYC Today in:  

1925: New York State Senator William Lathrop Love discusses the public reaction to his 'Clean Books bill.'  Note: Dr. W.L. Love represented the 8th District of Brooklyn. He was seeking to amend the law pertaining to the sale of obscene literature by making the presence of any obscene, lewd or lascivious work, apart from its context or intent, sufficient ground for suppression of the whole book. The bill was defeated (9 to 2) by the Senate Codes Committee that day.

1938: New York Congressman Hamilton Fish talks about 'the international situation.'  Note: Fish was in Congress (1920-1945) representing Putnam County and was a staunch opponent of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal policies.

1944: Broadcast of Father Knickerbocker, a dramatization of war problems in New York City. In it there's talk about retailers overcharging 'Mrs. Consumer' while the Office of Price Administration works hard in the fight against inflation and overcharges. Also a reminder from Father Nick that 'loose lips sink ships.'  

1956: Gilbert Seldes talks about censorship in films for this edition of The Lively Arts.

1965: The National Conference of Christians and Jews Brotherhood Conference presents a panel discussion: "Police power -- too little, too much?" The panel is moderated by Muriel Fox Aronson, with panelists Deputy Chief Inspector Patrick V. Murphy, Associate Dean Robert B. McKay, of the NYU Law School, and Dr. Frederick D. Patterson, President of the United Negro College Fund.

1984: Pianist Augustin Anievas and cellist Frederick Zlotkin perform at the Frick Collection.

1990: Richard Oldenburg hosts this edition of Arts Alive from the Algonquin. The topic is "values of works of art." His guests are Kirk Varnedoe, Adam Gopnik, and Linda Shearer.

2002: The Brian Lehrer Show presents: From Bronxistan To Iran: Eustace Tilley's New View Of New York. Brian talks with The New Yorker magazine's Rick Meyerowitz, Maira Kalman, Jeffrey Goldberg, and Malcolm Gladwell.


More in:

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About NYPR Archives & Preservation

Mission Statement: The New York Public Radio Archives supports the mission and goals of WNYC and WQXR by honoring the broadcast heritage of the radio stations and preserving their organizational and programming legacy for future generations of public radio listeners. The Archives will collect, organize, document, showcase and make available for production all original work generated by and produced in association with WNYC and WQXR Radio.

The NYPR Archives serves the stations staff and producers by providing them with digital copies of our broadcast material spanning WNYC and WQXR's respective 90 and 77 year histories.  We also catalog, preserve and digitize, provide reference services, store, and acquire WNYC and WQXR broadcast material (originals and copies) missing from the collection. This repatriation effort has been aided by dozens of former WNYC and WQXR staff as well as a number of key institutions. Additionally, our collecting over the last ten years goes beyond sound and includes photos, publicity materials, program guides, microphones, coffee mugs, buttons and other ephemera. We've left no stone unturned in our pursuit of these artifacts. The History Notes is a showcase for many of these non-broadcast items in our collection. 

In fact, if you’ve got that vintage WNYC or WQXR knick-knack, gee-gaw, or maybe a photo of someone in front of our mic, an old program guide or vintage piece of remote equipment and would like to donate it to us, or provide a copy of the item to us, write to Andy Lanset at alanset@nypublicradio.org.   

The Archives and Preservation series was created to bring together the leading NYPR Archives related, created, or sourced content material at WNYC.org.


Supported by