Author of the Month
Donna Halper is a determined woman, a smart woman and extremely ethical. She has had a quite a life, and continues to thrive on a busy schedule with important plans for her future. Donna has written five books, including the newly released “Boston Radio 1920-2010” which is part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing. Her previous books are “Icons of Talk: The Media Mouths that Changed America”, published in 2008 about the history of talk shows, “Invisible Stars: A Social History of Women in American Broadcasting” published in 2001, “Full-Service Radio: Programming for the Community (Electronic Media Guide)” and “Radio Music Directing (Electronic Media Guide)” both published back in 1991.
I chose Donna for Author of The Month because I’d like more readers to be familiar with her talent and knowledge, as well as her contributions to women’s access to important roles in radio. She sure does know her history! Having spoken on the telephone with Donna a few times, I quickly learned that she is sharp, witty and a genuine and nice person. She was the first woman radio announcer at Northeastern University in Boston, has had a long and successful career in media and broadcasting and is Assistant Professor of Communication at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. Donna is also well known for being the genius who discovered the Canadian rock band “Rush” and got them in the regular rotation of songs at a radio station in Cleveland. She remains a true and loyal friend to the band and was seen in the documentary “Beyond the Lighted Stage” about their career.
Donna is the type of person who breaks down barriers and became who she is on her own strengths and smarts. For example, when Northeastern University told her that no, she couldn’t be a radio announcer because women didn’t sound good; she asked “how do you know if you’ve never had a woman announcer”, got the job and became a hit. Presently, Donna still dreams of owning her own radio show. I asked her why she didn’t ask the members of Rush to help her out with that. Donna’s reply was that she “wouldn’t take advantage of the friendship.” This to me shows how ethical and true a friend she is, and I also suspect that Donna wants to make this dream happen entirely on her own. And I bet that the dream does come true for her!
Donna’s books are well researched and full of a wealth of information about the history of radio and insights into the many and varied personalities in the industry. Her current book “Boston Radio 1920-2010” is smart, fun, and for me really helped me remember the local DJ’s and announcers I’d been familiar with growing up. The cover features a picture of Arnie “Woo Woo” Ginsberg who was the voice of AM top 40 radio. I know that Donna was thrilled recently when Arnie called her after seeing the book cover. I have to confess that I was thrilled myself, each time Donna called me! After all, I’ve been a Rush fan for over thirty years and am most grateful to her for bringing them to the US publics attention.
Donna continues her teaching work, freelance writing, and also does volunteer work on the weekends. I asked her what her next book would be about, and she said “I just finished this one!”, but if I learned one thing from talking to her, there’s always another project coming right down the pike.
Laura's Review of Boston
Radio 1920-2010: Images of America series
2011's Honorary List