WIP Radio's Program Director Helen Pulaski Innes
WIP Radio in the Gimbel Brothers Department Store
8th and Market Streets, Center City Philadelphia
Wednesday, March 22, 1922
The first woman radio program director in the Philadelphia broadcast market was Helen Pulaski Innes. However, what really makes all this really interesting is she was WIP Radio's first PD when the station came on the air in March of 1922.
In September of 1964, Broadcast Pioneers founding member Ed Davies, WIP's first Station Manager spoke to the Broadcast Pioneers. In his speech, he said: "Our program director, Helen Pulaski Innes, discovered many fine young artists and started them on their way to fame and fortune. Included in this roster are Nelson Eddy, Conrad Thiebout, Wilbur Evans, Thelma Melrose, May Farley and Clarence Fuhrman, who later became musical director of the station."
She was born in Vienna, Austria in the late 1870's and moved to the United States when she was very young. According to the 1920 U.S. Census, she was married to Edward K. Innes and lived in Aldan, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. The couple had three children, Rodman L. Innes, Edward K. Innes and Eleanor Innes. In the 1930 census, she was listed as living inside the city's limits.
Helen was a graduate of the Philadelphia Girls Normal School which we today know as Girl's High. From there, her education continued at the Philadelphia Musical Academy. We know that learning institution today as the University of the Arts.
After graduation, she went to work. At one time, she was employed as the Assistant Supervisor of Music in the Philadelphia Public Schools. She was also active in the Alumnae Association of Girls Normal School. Included in the Philadelphia Musical Academy's "List of Some of Our Graduate and Advanced Pupils and the Positions they Occupy in the Profession of Music"
is "Miss Helen Pulaski, Assistant Supervisor of Music in the Public Schools, Philadelphia."
Innes had a large musical background. During 1902-03, she was listed as the editor of "A Reference Directory of the Choir Singers of Philadelphia and Vicinity." It was published by the Press od Avril Printing Company and listed in the Catalogue of Title Entries of Books, LOC Copyright Office. In the decade beginning in 1910, she was identified as the Director of the Charmindae Club.
She was the Musical director for the Shakespeare Tercentenary: Exhibition of Shakespeariana, 1616-1916, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts during 1916. The next year, she was decribed as the Musical Director for the Matinee Musical Club Cloral, Alumnae Choral and Proscenium Club and local manager for prominent artists and organizations.
Today's Philadelphia Orchestra says she was the Director of the Media, Chester and West Chester Committee of the Philadelphia Orchestra, 1913-1914. It was a group of local volunteers.
At the same time she was program director for WIP Radio (then broadcasting from the Gimbel Brothers Department Store), she was listed in The Musical Leader (Volume 34 - 1922) as a prime mover"in the Musical League alongside Herbert J. Tily, Thomas Martindale and Arthur Judson.
In 1928, there were several mentions of performances directing the Matinee Musical Club Chorus, some, if not all, of the performances were held at the Academy of Music. For that decade of the twneties, there were several performaces of the Matinee Musical Club on WIP Radio. In a 1924 magazine article, she was still listed as the station's program director. In 1929, she was a judge of the Atwater Kent Radio Contest broadcast over WFI Radio.
Helen Pulaski Innes
Chances were good that she was no longer with WIP Radio by then because on January 1, 1929, Innes became the Assistant Chief of the Municipal Bureau of Music. She was appointed by Philadelphia of Philadelphia Harry Mackey only a few days before. The mayor's wife was on the board of the Matinee Musical Club of which Innes was the director. Innes also served as part of the Mayor's committee to make sure poor children in the city had Christmas gifts. She passed away on October 4, 1958.
On Friday evening, November 20, 2015, Helen Pulaski Innes will be inducted posthumously into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Written by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
© 2015, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
All Rights Reserved
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