KING, CATHERINE HELEN (1904–2000)
Catherine King was one of the major radio figures in Western Australia in the post-war years, presenting the Women’s Session for the ABC from 1944 to 1976.
She was the daughter of noted intellectual Professor Walter Murdoch, and both he and her husband, the academic Alec King, were on the ABC committee charged in 1933 with developing the organisation’s political and educational policy. This gave her an insight into the broadcasting system and its educational potential.
King was a long-time member of the Western Australian Kindergarten Union, and during the war years she came up with the idea of a daily Kindergarten of the Air program, produced with presenter Margaret Graham; it went to air in 1942. The program—which included studio participation by children—was the first of its kind in Australia, and the idea was soon taken up by other states. It became a huge success.
Although programming had been directed at the female audience since the birth of radio in Western Australia, commitment wavered over the years and by the 1930s the content was limited to mainly domestic areas. ABC cutbacks led to the disappearance of local voices from the women’s broadcasts in 1940 and the Women’s Session disappeared altogether in 1943. Pressure from women’s groups led to its reinstatement in 1944, from 10.45 a.m. until 11.30 a.m. weekdays, and Catherine King was brought in as the presenter. She broadened its scope beyond the purely domestic and gave her statewide audience a stimulating mix of music, interviews and discussion. Her presentation style was natural and friendly. She was also a brave broadcaster, not afraid to challenge the rather staid contemporary standards of the day.
King was appointed MBE in 1966.
REF: J. Lewis, On Air (1979).