NFSA celebrates female pioneers on World Radio Day

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) will celebrate World Radio Day on 13 February with the publication of online profiles of two of Australia’s female radio pioneers, Lynn Foster and Dorothy Crawford.

“These women were pioneers in the development of Australian radio and were integral to the shaping of our national cultural identity,” said NFSA Radio Archivist Chris Arneil.

Lynn Foster

NFSA title no. 351956

“By the mid-to-late 1930s, women working in radio production gained prominence as producers, directors, writers and performers. This was at a time when most women were encouraged to stay at home as housewives and mothers — many of these radio pioneers were themselves mothers with their own households to manage. Women remained an integral part of Australian radio production through the golden years of radio in the 1940s and 1950s, up until today.”

Soon after its introduction in the 1920s, radio became a domestic and social activity in Australian society, as entire family groups gathered around a radio set for communal listening. The radio became an essential household item, providing hours of background entertainment to housewives carrying out their day-to-day duties. Australian women’s relationship with radio went deeper than simply being an avid audience of listeners – women also played an important professional role during Australia’s early years of radio broadcasting

Lynn Foster (1914-1985) was the first woman in Australia to direct a major radio serial on a national network, as well as the first to write and direct one. She also played a major part in the advancement of the status of writers in the radio industry.

Dorothy Crawford circa 1946

NFSA title no. 398660

Dorothy Crawford (1911-1988) excelled as a radio drama producer, and was also a pioneer in the production of Australian television drama. As co-founder of Crawford Productions she made a significant contribution to the company’s success, which not only dominated radio production in Melbourne, but was one of the few independent production companies to successfully transition from radio to television in Australia.

Foster and Crawford are the latest additions to the NFSA’s Women in Radio portal, joining other radio pioneers such as Queenie Ashton, Amber Mae Cecil, Grace Gibson and Ethel Lang. All profiles feature a selection of exclusive images and radio recording clips from the NFSA’s national collection – which also includes scrapbooks, scripts, books, magazines and oral histories.

World Radio Day was proclaimed by UNESCO in 2011 to raise awareness of the importance of the medium. It celebrates radio as a low-cost medium capable of reaching remote communities and vulnerable people, as well as offering a platform for everyone – irrespective of people’s educational level – to intervene in the public debate.


For interviews about World Radio Day and the NFSA’s radio collection, contact Miguel Gonzalez on (02) 8202 0114 or