Fannie Mason Steve

Fannie Mason Steve (1877-1969) was a teacher, musician, mentor, and tireless advocate for the joys of exercise and life. At the age of 55, after decades as a classroom teacher, Fannie launched a pioneering broadcast career focused on early childhood education. She spent 35 years teaching music and physical education on WHA’s School of the Air, engaging young listeners with just the sound of her voice and a piano.

Fannie grew up in a musical family and started as a teacher in Madison public schools. In 1931 she joined WHA and launched “Rhythm and Games.” The show featured music and activities to inspire imagination, healthy habits, and group spirit. She had a radiant voice that captivated her young listeners.

“Rhythm and Games” was heard by more than 60,000 children each week and was also later broadcast on WHA-TV. She was also an advocate of women’s rights saying, “a chance to live her own life – which infers a chance to do as she wishes – is the right of every woman.”

Fannie received numerous awards including the 1962 McCall’s Golden Mike Award for “outstanding service to the youth of America.” She retired in 1966 at the age of 90.


  1. When I attended first through third grades in Livingston, Wisconsin in the late 1950’s, our only music class was “music on the air”. We had songbooks and sang along with the radio program.

  2. Bill Siemering

    I listened to Fannie Steve and the Wisconsin School of the Air programs when I attended Silver Springs, a two-room country school, near the Fish Hatchery Highway.. Later, I worked my way through the University of Wiscoinsin at WHA.

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