CINCINNATI -- When Jane Ellen Eastey Corson -- Tibby to her friends -- first played piano on-air for a radio station in Stephens College, she walked out of the room knowing she'd just discovered a new life's passion. It wasn't the piano.
In the 1930s, radio was as ubiquitous to consumers then as YouTube is now. Less ubiquitous (a downright "novelty," in fact) were woman hosts. Corson, who recently turned 101, said she knew even as she pursued opportunities at Ohio State that she might face an uphill climb to finding a job in professional radio.
"They were just beginning to put women on the air," she recalled. "There usually was just one woman announced on radio stations."
And other women were dedicated to keeping their own hard-won places. Ruth Lyons, who built a Cincinnati radio and then a TV empire in the same era, once flatly rejected Corson's job application after learning in an interview that she sang and played piano.
"She said, 'Well, that takes care of that! Nobody replaces me. I play the organ; I play the piano; I couldn't be interested in you,'" she said.
The job ended up finding her. Corson joined the staff of WCPO radio in 1939, carving out her own niche with games and comedic impressions.
"Put your razor down," she would instruct listeners at the start of her show. "I don't want anyone having any accidents. Take it easy!"
Radio also introduced Corson to her husband, who met her as a listener before he learned she was also his neighbor.
"He was always on the road seeing customers, and he always had my program on," she said. "He said to himself, 'One day, I'm going to meet that gal. She's a real screw-ball.'"
He proposed to her in Loveland, Ohio. Naturally.
The start of World War II ended Corson's time on air, but to this day, her radio is still playing in the background.