Women Making Audio History

By Jen Moss – Chief Creative Officer at JAR Audio

As the Chief Creative Officer of JAR Audio, a 50% female-owned company, I’m always proud to amplify women’s voices.

Disruptors, our podcast for RBC, features an all-female panel this week, and Talk it Forward, our brand new podcast with the City of Vancouver, produced by Lindsay Lafreniere, is all about advancing women in the workplace.

But this isn’t unusual. Round the clock – every day of the year, our work is full of women with strong opinions – people like Alexandra Samuel and Nakuset — who host and guest on our shows. They’re supported by loads of strong female talent behind the scenes.

So why, then, do we still need a “special day” to celebrate women’s voices?

It’s not because women seek attention. It’s because historically, we’ve had to fight to be heard.

Most people recognize March 8th as International Women’s Day. But fewer people know about Women’s History Month, which takes place in March in the USA and October in Canada.

Fewer still know about all the historical contributions women have made to audio – my chosen field.

At JAR, I’m privileged to work with many talented audio producers

People like Paula Baker, who produces Look Again, an incredible podcast for the BC Schizophrenia Society – all about what it means to live with Schizophrenia.

There’s executive producer Claudia Kwan and editor Jill Constantine, who steered Expedia’s Out Travel The System, and Eagranie Yuh – who produces and hosts an internal podcast for Prospera Credit Union.

Or Erin Shaw and Anita Elash, the women behind Fireweed, a podcast about resilience and adaptation, for BCIT.

Then there’s the intrepid Jumy Ogunsola, who holds down Build it Braver, one of our flagship podcasts for American Express, hosted by Vivian Kaye.

And Emily Morantz – who puts her considerable energy into Where You Are, an important podcast for the Kelty Youth Mental Health Centre at BC Children’s Hospital, hosted by Bryn Askwith and Michelle Horn.

Not to mention that we rely daily on the marketing and project management talents of people like Mandy Elkoreh, America Turner, Jessica Wills, and Kerri Jesson, Candice Bartlett, Kristi Boulton, and Gabrielle Mrozowski, who truly help us make the most of our projects.

Finally, we collaborate with so many incredible women through the brands that we work with – many of whom are in leadership positions.

 

Women are all through the audio field

…they have been since its inception.

Yet at this year’s Juno Awards – it’s the very first time in the 50+ years the awards have been running that a woman has been nominated in the recording engineer category.

Which makes no sense.

Because if there’s one thing I know women are good at – it’s using our ears.

We’re adept at listening, at paying attention to nuance, sound, and story.

Women tend to hear the whispers – and pick up on the implied messages between the words.

We often hear the emotion underpinning the sounds.  And it’s that heightened sense of attunement that makes us really freaking good at our jobs.

So, in honour of International Women’s Day – and Women’s History Month in the US – and also just because I feel like it — I wanted to use the rest of this space to mention just a few of the many women who have inspired me personally in my audio journey: Producers, audio engineers, sound artists, composers, and researchers.

I hope you check out this list and feel as inspired as I did.

Library of Congress: 3 women in uniform standing beside Army car.

My inspiration:

  • Sound Artist and Community-Engaged Researcher!  

    Jenni Schine was born and raised in the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and Sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations (Vancouver, BC), Jenni works with non-profits, consulting, conservation, social justice, philanthropy, and the arts. She’s an award-winning sound artist, broadcaster, and community-engaged researcher whose beautiful audio work explores the oral histories and soundscapes of the people and places of the West Coast.

  • First Female JUNO Award Nominee for Recording Engineer of the Year – 2022!

    Hill Kourkoutis is a revered and cherished music contributor from Canada. She is an accomplished producer, songwriter, composer, mixer, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, artist and director who works out of her studio, The Lair. Hill is also a devoted mentor to a diverse group of emerging producers and songwriters.

  • Ground-breaking Composer and Teacher!

    Hildegard Westerkamp was born in Osnabrück, Germany in 1946, and emigrated to Canada in 1968. Since then she has lived on the ancestral lands of the Coast Salish peoples. After completing her music studies at the University of British Columbia in the early seventies she joined the World Soundscape Project under the direction of R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University (SFU). Her involvement with this project activated deep concerns about noise and the general state of the acoustic environment in her, but it also changed her ways of thinking about music, listening and sound making. She also hosted a weekly program, Soundwalking, on the newly founded Vancouver Co-Op Radio in 1978/79, and in 2003 founded the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective. Hilde is a generous mentor of younger composers, sound designers, soundwalk leaders, and people pursuing careers in soundscape studies and acoustic ecology.

  • WWII Radio Resistance Operative!

    Florence Emily Attridge (1901 – 1975) worked at the Marconi wireless factory in Essex and received a British Empire Medal (civil division) for her contributions to the war effort during World War II. Papers accompanying her medal suggest that she was involved in making secret radio sets used by the resistance during the war.

  • Early Canadian Female Broadcaster!

    Kate Aitken (1891 – 1971) was a Canadian radio and TV broadcaster in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Sometimes known by the nickname Mrs. A, she was a female entrepreneur and women’s lifestyle “influencer.” She was also the only woman with her own show on CBC in the early days – and was one of the most famous female broadcasters of her era.