Janie Joplin: A Memphis Radio Pioneer


Janie Joplin passed away in Ellendale last week at the age of 85. Her name may not be familiar to Memphians today, but in the 1950s, Janie Joplin was a household word. She and a dozen or so other young women were the disk jockeys on WHER, the nation’s first all-female radio station.

WHER, recently featured on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered,” was the brainchild of Sun Studio owner Sam Phillips. The station first went on the air on October 29, 1955, and survived until the novelty wore off several years later. During that time, the entire staff — djs, sales staff, secretaries, even the record librarians — was female.

Joplin worked as an on-air broadcaster and copywriter, and later moved to WHBQ radio, where she worked as an advertising writer until her retirement in the mid-1980s. In her Commercial Appeal obituary, her family observed, “For many years it would have been hard to listen to radio in Memphis without hearing her distinctively pleasant voice.” During her career at WHER, her popular sign-off for the AM-1430 — advertised as “the station with 1,000 beautiful watts — was “Be good, and you’ll be happy.”

More information about WHER.

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