“It’s one o’clock and here is Mary Margaret McBride!”
—Opening line of McBride’s radio show
One of the pioneers of talk radio, Mary Margaret McBride blazed a path that few women—or men for that matter—had taken. She grew up in small-town Missouri, but she made her mark in the Big Apple. She worked with and socialized with the biggest stars of the era, making her one of the biggest names in the country in the early 1900s.
THE EARLY YEARS
Mary Margaret McBride was born on November 16, 1899, in Paris, Missouri. She grew up on a farm in northwest Missouri before enrolling at William Woods College in Fulton. At the time, William Woods was still just a prep school, which she used to get ready for the University of Missouri–Columbia. Mizzou was becoming known for its top-notch journalism program, and McBride took advantage of the learning opportunities. She graduated with a degree in journalism in 1919 and set off for a career in the media.
RISE TO FAME
After graduation, McBride took a job in Ohio with the Cleveland Press. She worked in Cleveland for about five years before she was offered a job at the Evening Mail in New York City. New York was the center of the publishing universe, so it was easy for her to pick up additional work as a freelance writer. Her hard work and excellent skills opened doors for her to write for prestigious magazines like Good Housekeeping and The Saturday Evening Post.
Her folksy style and motherly approach were a hit with readers. Radio stations took interest in her abilities and her name value, and soon she was working with the powerhouse radio station WOR under the name “Martha Deane.” The daily advice show for women became popular as fans soaked up every word of her grandmotherly advice (even though she was only thirty-eight at the time).
SHOW ME SUCCESS
The CBS Radio Network hired McBride in 1937, just three years after debuting on WOR. She dropped the name of Martha Deane and went back to Mary Margaret McBride. Her show was a mixture of advice, entertainment, celebrity news, politics, and news of the day. She interviewed the top newsmakers from every segment of society, which made her one of the top radio celebrities in the country in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
McBride also started a television show in 1948, but it never gained popularity with the viewing audience. The show was dropped soon after it started but was a precursor to today’s advice shows like Oprah and The View.
McBride also wrote numerous books and a syndicated newspaper column. After her syndicated radio days were over, she moved to a small town in upstate New York where she continued broadcasting, sometimes from her living room. She died in 1976 and left behind a legacy as one of the first true multimedia superstars.
*She only accepted advertisements on her radio show for products she endorsed. She rejected all tobacco and alcohol ads!
*During the 1940s, she took the bold step of having black guests on her show, which was done very little during that time.
*She interviewed several big-name personalities, including Harry S Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Frank Lloyd Wright, Bob Hope,
Tennessee Williams, and Joe DiMaggio.