Past President Was “Golden Age” Celebrity Interviewer
So We All Can Be Heard – Winter 2014
By Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas, IWPA Historian
Helen Stevens Fisher
During Chicago’s “Golden Age of Radio,” Helen Stevens Fisher was a radio personality. Her best known character “The Little Lady of the House” was a feature on The National Farm and Home Hour, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture describes as “the most popular radio program of the 20th century.” The show aired over the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Monday through Saturday at 12:30 p.m. from the twentieth floor of the Merchandise Mart.
Small but energetic, Helen had a sparkling power of persuasion which she used to her advantage to convince headlining personalities and stars to talk about themselves on the broadcast. It was her tenacity and hard work that succeeded in her presenting at least one nationally famous person on the program weekly. She was known to track down schedules of anyone who was anyone coming through Chicago. Her connections at local hotels would tip her off when a big star checked in as did her many newspaper friends when the George Clooney’s and Brad Pitt’s of the day attempted to slip through town. It was Helen’s early experience as a newspaper reporter though that served her well in getting her guests to share their fascinating tales live on the air.
Born in LaSalle, Illinois, she received her A.B. degree in Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois where she served in the social department of the Wesley Foundation. This she was quoted to have said was the start of a career in “party planning” for which she would become best known. Her preparation and broadcasting party plans for home entertainment suggested games and party themes for fun-minded people. During her career she authored the book, “A Good Time at Your Party.” Besides her early work as a reporter on a community newspaper, she also handled publicity and promotion for a publisher.
Helen first joined the Illinois Woman’s Press Association in 1927 and would become its 22nd president serving two-terms from 1945-1949. A past issue of PenPoints stated “she has presided over all meetings living up to her title, ‘The Have Some Fun Lady’ and she inspired members with her radiant smile and charming personality.”
Marianne Wolf-Astrauskas is the author of “Joliet,” Images of America Series with Arcadia Publishing, of “The Joliet Rivals Club – a centennial celebration,” and her newest book, “Leadership 1937-2003, The First Forty Presidents of the National Federation of Press Women”, a short-story author, and community volunteer. Her writing has won top awards from the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. She is co-editor of the 2014 IWPA anniversary anthology.