129|Donna Halper Part 1 - Podcast Interview
All I ever wanted was to be was a DJ. In my freshman year at Northeastern University, I arrived at the campus radio station and said: “I want to be on the radio.” The program director said: “We don’t put girls on the radio. They don’t sound good.” So I asked him: “How many women have you had on the air here?” And he said: “None.” - Donna Halper
This is one of those episodes that serves as a reminder of how far we’ve come. When Donna Halper was growing up in the 1950’s, girls had only a few choices. They could marry and be a “housewife”, or they could be a teacher, a nurse or a bookkeeper. Donna had other ideas. From the time she was a little girl, she wanted to have a career and the announcers on the radio sounded like they were having fun all the time. Even though DJ’s couldn’t see their audience, they were somehow able to reach out and relate to the thousands of teens who listened to the radio. A Jewish girl who was often bullied for being different, Donna grew up loving rock ‘n roll, saying: “it was the music of rebellion. The culture was changing and the music was a way to say things that you weren’t allowed to say in society.” After being told for years that women didn’t sound good on the radio, Donna finally got on the air in college and after graduation, was recruited by the legendary Frank Kingston Smith to write features for his show on WABC in New York City. But it was her stint as music director at WMMS in Cleveland, Ohio that put her name in the book of rock when she received an advance copy of a homegrown album by an unknown Canadian rock trio called RUSH. Says Donna: “I dropped the needle down on a song called “Working Man” and I knew immediately that this was a Cleveland record.” Since that day, RUSH has sold 40 million records, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. Donna’s career story continued to flourish, but never without adversity and roadblocks. Her message then and now is simple. “Never, ever give up.” For a birds eye view into the meaning of perseverance, hit that download button. #cantstopwontstop
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