Today is National Radio Day, and a good day to talk about one of the legends of old-time radio: sound effects virtuoso Ora Nichols.


Today sound effects often come from recorded sound libraries, but in the early days of radio, performers made them, usually working live along with the voice cast.

For years, Ora Nichols and her husband, Arthur, had done both music and sound effects for stage shows in the vaudeville era, and for silent films after that.

They got hired on at CBS; Ora served for a time as the leader of the sound team, at a time when she was pretty much the only woman in the field.

The Nicholses modified air conditioners to make the sounds of jet engines, and used egg beaters to evoke the sound of a lawn mower.

This was a time when many radio producers and directors thought only a lawn mower could sound like a lawn mower.

One director who didn’t approve of her methods insulted Ora Nichols as a “screwball” in front of the rest of the cast, right before a big broadcast.

She was understandably insulted and walked out, only returning after the director apologized in front of everyone.

Later, after both of them had made headlines all over the world for their radio adaptation of “War of the Worlds,” that director, Orson Welles, sent Ora Nichols a note that read in part: “Thanks for the best job anybody could ever do for anybody.”


Researchers at The Ohio State University say they’ve found a weed commonly grown on farms that could help make a greener, more sustainable jet fuel.

Ironically, the name of the plant that could create this cleaner-burning fuel: stinkweed.

But what’s in a name, really?

Female Pioneer Credited With Bringing Sound Effects To Radio (KUOW)

Stinkweed could make a cleaner bio-jet fuel, study finds (The Ohio State University)

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Photo by Wide World photo for Tower Magazines, Inc. – page 24 Tower Radio, January 1935, Public Domain, via Wikicommons