Helen Lipkin was the 14th President of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia serving from 1976 to 1977. She also had served on our Board of Governors (now called the Board of Directors). Born in Philadelphia in 1919, Helen had her own column at age 15 in a local newspaper in Wildwood, NJ where she and her family vacationed that summer.
While attending Overbrook High School at 59th and Lancaster in West Philly, Lipkin started working as an office helper at WDAS Radio. By the late thirties, Helen Lipkin had worked her way up to become the station's first female disc jockey and one of the first in the entire Philadelphia market (We cannot verify that she was the city's very first, but it seems that way). Her show was called "The Merry Go Round," which featured jazz and be-bop of that time period.
In 1990, her son David Lipkin said:
From everything I know and she told me, she was the first woman disc jockey in Philadelphia. I've often referred to her as one of the early feminists. She was a woman who believed long before Betty Friedan and the others that women could do what they wanted if they were willing to persevere.
From 1943 to 1949, Lipkin hosted a children's radio show on Saturday mornings called "Kiddie Karnival." She interviewed children and played kid's music. In 1948 & 1949, she had her own television show on WPTZ, Channel 3, Philadelphia (owned by Philco). It was called "At Home with Helen" and was a 15-minute show on Tuesday evenings from 7:20 to 7:35 pm. She gave viewers tips on how to entertain and how to decorate for Christmas. That would be even more interesting because she was Jewish and didn't celebrate the holiday. She ended (voluntarily) her broadcasting career when her second child was born.
By the late sixties and early seventies, Helen was back. She initiated and ran a program at Temple University with the School of Communications and Theater. Her job was to get local and national personalities from the industry to speak to Temple students. This project was run in association with the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, said Dr. Gordon Gray, a member of our organization and former department head for the Department of Radio-TV-Film at Temple. Most, but not all of the speakers came from our membership at the time.
Yearly, she arranged for the Levy Brothers who at one time owned WCAU radio, to sponsor a Broadcast Pioneers trip to the Atlantic City Race Track. All expenses were paid by the Levys for our membership.
She enjoyed playing golf. Lipkin was a member of the Bala Golf Club, where the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia have most of their meetings. She was also a member of the club's golf team for women.
She passed away on Saturday, March 17, 1990 at the age of 70. She had two children and two grandchildren. She was the wife of Leonard B. Lipkin and they lived in Bala Cynwyd. Leonard owned two well-known area bakeries that were famous for making rye bread. They were Gold Medal Baking and Kaplan's New Model Bakery. Leonard passed away in the Spring of 2000.
On Friday evening, November 18, 2011, Helen Lipkin was inducted posthumously into the Broadcast Pioneers' Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo donated by David Lipkin, Helen's son
Written and researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
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