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AUDIO RECORD  February, 1948 
VOL. 4, NO. 2 
Published monthly by Audio Devices, Inc., 
444 Madison Avenue, New York City, in the 
interests of better sound recording.

Don Plunkett, Chief Engineer of Mary Howard Recordings, adjusts one of the mikes in the 
spacious New York studio while an artist sits at the piano waiting patiently for Mary Howard's 
cue to begin. Inset: Recording's own, Mary Howard. Photos by Murniy Laden and Kdward O'zera 

The War Gave Mary Howard Her Big Chance to 
Make Good in Recording; She Did — And How! 

Before the War, many jobs in American industry were con- 
sidered "man-sized" positions and therefore . . . for men only. But 
the War and its tremendous drain on manpower soon gave the female 

a chance to "strut her scuff." And one such 
lady, who took full advantage of this op- 
portunity to prove that it wasn't strictly a 
man's world after all, was Miss Mary 
Howard, daughter of a well-to-do New 
England family. 

Mary Howard had a flair for good music 
and records particularly intrigued her. To 
satisfy her curiosity, she bought a record- 
ing machine and started on her own trial- 
and-error course in record cutting. Miss 
Howard's interest in recording steadily 
grew — and so did her recording equip- 
ment. And then . . . 

Mary Howard came to New York in 
1940 and immediately applied for an engi- 
neer's job at NBC. As girls weren't being 
hired for that sort of an assignment, Mary 
Howard had to be content with a secre- 
tary's position in the engineering depart- 
ment. Then, her big break came. NBC, los- 
ing man after man to the armed forces, 
(Continued on Page 4) 
War Gave Mary Howard Chance to 
Make Good in Recording; She Did 

(Continued from Page 1 ) 

decided the comely secretary deserved a 
chance to cut a disc and be paid for doing 
it. Mary was a big leaguer from thi" start 
and in no time at all, the trade looi J on 
her as a master recording engineer. 

Her work at NBC gave Mary Hc-vard 
ideas — big ideas of opening her jwn 
recording studio. And just to prove shc 
wasn't day dreaming, Mary Hov^ard in- 
vites you to visit her studio (Mary Howard 
Recordings) at 37 East 49th Street in New 
York any day you wish. 

Since Miss Howard set up her own 
"shop", a little over two years ago, many 
of the biggest names in radio have used her 
facilities. Such outstanding personalities as 
Alex Templeton, Eddie Duchin, Ethel 
Waters, Fred 'waring, and many others, 
have come to Mary Howard Recordings be- 
cause they knew that this Howard woman, 
when it came to making recordings, was 
"perfection on parade." 

Mary Howard Recordings functions 
primarily as a recording service and its 
operations, besides cutting instantaneous 
masters, includes line and air checks of all 
descriptions, studio recording and slidefilm 
work. In the last year Mary Howard 
Recordings released their own commercial 
records. The Herman Chittison Trio, Ethel 
Waters, Lucille Turner and Dale Belmont 
are a few of the artists who made recordings 
under the MHR label. And, like the thou- 
sands of other recording companies, Mary 
Howard Recordings is waiting patiently 
for the Petrillo ban to be lifted so they can 
'get going' again. 

Cutting equipment in Mary Howard 
Recordings, according to Chief Engineer 
Don Plunkett, Mary Howard's able assis- 
tant, consists of: 'Van Eps and Allied Cut- 
ting Lathes, Presto 1-D Heads driven by 
Langevin 101 -A Amplifiers. "Our mixing 
equipm.ent," Mr. Plunkett explained, "is 
interchangeable by means of patching. Our 
Preamps and Our Program Amps arc 
Langevin. Re-recording equipment at 
MHR," Mr. Plunkett said, "consists of 
Allied Transcription Tables and Picker- 
ing Reproducing Equipment, which have 
served us most efficiently of all pickups we 
have tried. This combination — Allied TT's 
and Pickering Pickups — we find the most 
flexible for composite recording." 

Audio Record asked both Miss Howard 
and Mr. Plunkett what their particular 
techniques were — what they did to insure 
good recordings. To this query. Miss 
Howard replied: "We are of the opinion 
that a compact, consolidated recording and 
control room, combined adjacent to and 
visible to the studio is the best method of 
recording. With this setup a recording tech- 
nician can actually 'ride gain' but what 
is more important can see what actual level 
is imposed on the disc. We feel," Miss 

Howard continued, "that the term 'riding 
gain' is a poor description of the operation 
involved. The more dynamics achieved in 
a fidelity recording, even if the frequency 
response is limited, the more the sound 
originating in the studio will be approxi- 
mated. We feel that too much emphasis 
can be put on the word 'fidelity' and that 
some of the pre-emphasized and over em- 
phasized high frequencies often result in a 
sound unpleasant to the ear, which after 
all is the final judge." 

"Dynamic fidelity of course," Mr. Plun- 



kett h sti^ned to add, "is closely allied with 
surface noise and care must be taken with 
selection of styli and discs so that low level 
prssag «■ v.'ill not 'ce marred by surface 
noise. 

"And then too," the chief engineer went 
on, "recording quality must be checked 
constantly and the best check is immediate 
playback. This is, unfortunately, quite 
often ignored by many studios, or discour- 
aged by companies as a waste of time." 

"Yes, and," Miss Howard, eager to get 
back into the discussion added, "recording 
information about cutting characteristics, 
recording head designs, styli and quality of 
response equipment is easily obtained. 
These all enter into the final results. Un- 
fortunately, the interest and ingenuity of 
the recordist has often been overlooked. 
Recording," she continued, "is not a dull 
craft at all if engaged in all its technical 
phases. There seems to be a prevalence in 
large organizations for specialization — 
cutting technicians, studio technicians, 
maintenance, etc. — which often results in 
poor recording because of lack of interest 
or information in all phases of the record- 
ing operation. If interest and enthusiasm 
were carried all the way through the re- 
cording organization, and management, 
perhaps time might be found to raise the 
general recording standards in America. 

"We have tried," she concluded, "to 
incorporate these methods (?) in our opera- 
tion and have had success ... or some such 
thing." 

From what Audio Record has been able 
to learn, that 'some such thing,' Miss 
Howard refers to, spells success all right 
. . . and with a capital 'S'.

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Steven Smolian
Sent: Monday, July 1, 2019 6:47 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Female producers?

Probably the first was Mary Howe who also had her own record company and was a composer as well.  Her "Stars" was recorded on 78, Kindler, I believe.

Steve Smolian

-----Original Message-----
From: Association for Recorded Sound Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Marie O'Connell
Sent: Monday, July 01, 2019 6:32 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Female producers?

Tom Fine's mother - Wilma Cozart Fine might be in the list - http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/wilma-cozart-fine-the-muse-of-mercury/
Marie

On Tue, Jul 2, 2019 at 10:09 AM Donald Tait < [log in to unmask]> wrote:

>    Perhaps Jane Friedman (or Friedmann) at Columbia/Epic? She helped 
> me at Columbia's New York headquarters in 1976 when I was doing some 
> research about Bruno Walter's Columbia records. But I could be wrong about it.
>   Don Tait
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Stamler <[log in to unmask]>
> To: ARSCLIST <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Mon, Jul 1, 2019 4:34 pm
> Subject: [ARSCLIST] Female producers?
>
> Hi folks:
>
> Anyone know who the first female record producers were? I'm not aware 
> of anyone before classical producer Teresa Sterne at Nonesuch in the 
> 1960s, but if there was someone else (either in classical or 
> vernacular), I'd like to know about her.
>
> Peace,
> Paul
>
> ---
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