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WINGS thanks the Sister Fund for the research funding for this outline.

An outline for choosing and funding radio projects

Part One -- Why Feminist Radio?

  1. Necessity of media for women:
    1. Now being recognized at international level*
    2. Builds the information environment and political climate
    3. Organizing tool - puts people in touch
    4. Keeps every group or individual from having to reinvent the wheel.
    5. Source of authority to make things happen, bring people together, and ask questions of decision- makers (media diplomacy)**
    6. Communicates and legitimates our version of the world - facts, images, feelings, and opinions
    7. Can validate our female styles of verbal communication (or let us develop new styles specifically for media)

  2. What is feminist media?
    1. Women are represented in our real power and genius, not primarily as victims, monsters, or adornments.
    2. The people covered are heard from in their own words/music, not mainly as paraphrased by reporters
    3. Women and our perspectives are central, whether the issue is a "women's issue" per se or not.
    4. Useful information and ideas are valued, not mere sensationalism. ("Useful" means useful for continuing life on earth and building peace and justice, as well as for ordinary living.)
    5. Women [according to Tina Brown] have repeatedly been shown to like knowing why something happened, not just that it happened - and to want clarity in language and explanations, not jargon. Feminist media reflect that taste.
    6. Feminist media must also be passionate, fresh, new,
      interesting, or even dramatic (or it will be ignored even by feminists).

    3. Advantages of radio for women:
    1. Economical - both equipment and tapes are less expensive than video.
    2. Accessible - radio stations are already in or in reach of communities all over the world.
    3. Gently sloping technology curve - women can start producing right away with only a small amount of knowledge, and work up to more complicated productions if they wish.
    4. Producers can work either solo or collectively.
    5. On radio, the audience has to listen to what you say, instead of obsessing over your hair or your tits.
    6. Relative anonymity is possible where women are at risk from exposure of their views.
    7. Non-broadcast as well as broadcast distribution is simple - audio cassette technology, for instance, is almost as widely available as radio worldwide.
    8. Literacy is not required to listen to the radio.
    9. You can listen to the radio while doing other things (women usually are).
Part Two -- What Kinds of Feminist Projects Can Be Done with Radio?
  1. Women's radio projects have track record at many levels of complexity and outreach. Examples:
    1. Local women's radio program(s), stories/features, or commentaries.
      1. produced by individual producer/reporter
      2. produced by production group or collective
    2. Women's block programming on radio station schedules*
    3. Radio station women's collective* (e.g., at KUT-FM, Austin, Texas, in the 1970s; at KFAI-FM, Minneapolis in the 1980s; at KOOP-FM, Austin, Texas, in the 1990s)
    4. Radio station women's department* (e.g., departments formerly at WBAI-FM New York and KPFA-FM, Berkeley, California)
    5. Local women's radio station
      1. 1) part-time, sharing with another licensed community station (e.g., Radio Orakel in Norway)
      2. 2) as a temporary fulltime licensed radio station (e.g., International Womens Day-related stations in UK)
      3. 3) as an intermittent or fulltime "pirate" station (e.g., Radio Pirate Woman in Galway, Ireland)
      4. 4) as a fully licensed commercial station (e.g., Bebe Facundus's station in Baton Rouge, Louisiana)
    6. Regionally syndicated women's news program (e.g. around the Great Lakes Region in the 1980s)
    7. Nationally syndicated women's radio programs, series of features, and commentary.
    8. International women's radio program or series.
      1. shortwave
    9. syndicated to radio stations
    10. broadcast on internet
  2. Technological possibilities - types of local radio broadcasting
    1. FM - local, commercial band. Advantages: sometimes reaches a lot of audience or a new audience; disadvantages: usually costs money, interrupted by advertising. (In the 1980s, the Reagan administration's FCC abolished the rule that required all licensed radio stations to air non-commercial public service programs regularly.)
    2. FM - local, noncommercial band. [In the U.S. the FCC set aside the low end of the FM dial, roughly 88-92 Mhz, as a reservation for noncommercial radio. In the 1980s, religious broadcasters gained the right to compete for this spectrum space, but there are still many communities with one or several secular stations broadcasting on this band. A few noncommercial stations of these types also exist in the commercial part of the FM band or on AM, but most have succumbed to the financial pressure to sell this spectrum to commercial broadcasters. Where spectrum space is still available, a noncommercial station can still be started from scratch with merely tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, whereas today just about any commercial radio station in the U.S. costs at least a million dollars to buy in operating condition.]
      1. Public Radio. Advantages: largest non-commercial listenership. Disadvantages: hard to break into, often rigid in their formats; you have to compete for airtime and production dollars against two major national syndicates (NPR and PRI), neither of which offers regular women's programming.
      2. College Radio. Advantages: sometimes allow experimentation, may be susceptible to approaches through a Women's Studies Department or student organization, as well as by individuals; disadvantages: often a sea of hard rock programming, not usually available to non-student programmers, usually weak signal -- sometimes only available on cable within the campus.
      3. Community Radio. Varies a great deal in signal and content -- mission is generally at least officially to serve underserved elements of the community. May overlap with Public or College Radio. Advantages: most likely to offer novices training and to have a mission that includes diversity of programming; disadvantages: often plagued with political factionism, conflicts between paid staff and volunteers, and egoes seeking to control airtime; usually short of funds and often have poor equipment.
      4. Micro ("neighborhood" or "pirate") Radio. Advantages: inexpensive transmitters, can be operated out of your home or carried in a purse. Disadvantages: In the U.S. the legality of micro radio is in dispute, and some operators have been arrested, fined, or had their equipment seized. Typically reaches 1/4 mile radius or less. [Note, these are not actually confined to the non-commercial part of the FM spectrum - may pop up anywhere there's a vacant slot on the dial.]. In 2000 and 2001 the FCC offered licenses for these types of radio stations.
      5. Religious Radio. Most such stations are owned by religious radio syndicates with a fundamentalist bent and unlikely to be receptive to feminist programming -- but if women can find a way to get the airtime, more power to us! Probably the only way to get on would be to call in as a listener and lie (!) to the screener who answers the phone about what you wanted to say when you got on the air.
    3. AM commercial - local. Some stations will still sell you airtime to put on whatever programming you want, as long as you leave room for their ads (which can take up to half the show!). Usually the stations that sell air time, however, have pretty low listenership, which also means they are not that attractive to advertisers, so you probably can't recoup your airtime costs that way. I've bought airtime for as little as $100 a half-hour (minus the time taken up by the station's house ads), for a not especially desirable time slot. The changes in the Communications Act in 1997 are providing opportunities for these subsistence stations to sell out to major corporate syndicates that offer music formats via satellite, so this niche may vanish.
    4. Sideband. Some stations rent this spectrum out for special broadcasting -- often used by radio reading services for the blind. Can't be picked up by typical AM/FM receivers.
    5. DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting). This type of broadcasting is on the horizon for the near future and will permit up to five radio stations to fit in the spectrum space currently occupied by one station. The switchover involves regulation and manufacturing issues, as well as the politics of who will make money and who lose, so it has been slow to come in the U.S. It is already in operation in Europe. When it arrives in the U.S., it might deal a death blow to low-budget stations that can't afford to re-tool their transmitters. Stay tuned!
  3. Technological possiblities -- greater-than-local broadcasting
    1. AM clear channel. These are AM radio stations that can be heard a long way at night. They're called "clear channel" because the FCC [US Federal Communications Commission] makes other stations on the same frequency cease operation at sundown and clear the channel for these powerful signals. In addition to having high-powered transmitters, they have a natural assist: the ionosphere changes after the sun goes down and allows the radio signals to bounce off the sky for longer distances. The principle is the same as shortwave (shortwave is actually a kind of AM broadcasting).

      AM clear channels were designated and assigned by the FCC for the purpose of helping reach the entire U.S. populace in time of emergency. Their function has actually been superseded by satellite communication, but for now they continue to exist. It is possible to cover the entire U.S. (and considerable area in Mexico, Canada, etc., on a good transmission night) with as few as five of these stations. In fact, there's a late-night radio program aimed at long-distance truck drivers that does just that, starting at midnight Eastern time and running til about 4 a.m.

      I've looked into the possibility of putting a national women's radio program onto clear-channels at night, and found that some but not all clear-channel stations sell their airtime. The price in 1996 was around $700 an hour per station. Times five stations, that's $3,500 an hour for airtime alone. Some stations don't sell their airtime, but the woman producing the truckers' show said their network, which owns most of its stations, might entertain a proposal to syndicate a women's show.

      Problems to be addressed would include finding or developing the audience -- most regular listeners to AM clear channels are on the road, on the ocean, or otherwise isolated from more glitzy fare at night.

    2. Satellite
      1. Superstations (widely used commercially, but also there is for example Radio Bilingue)
      2. DBS (direct broadcast by satellite)
        1. C-band dish
        2. KU-band dish
        3. direct to receivers
        The US FCC has licensed two companies to start offering this service, aimed mainly to automobiles. The signals are already beginning to be out there (in 2000) but the receivers will mainly start being deployed in the 2003 cars. Women need to get a channel (at least one) for our content. Women’s Radio Fund is working on a project. There is also DBS in Canada, India, Australia (at least). And WorldSpace is a company that has put up satellites to cover most of the rest of the world, concentrating on Africa and Asia. Worldspace CEO Noah Samara has said he would like to have a women’s channel. These DBS projects in the short term also collaborate with community radio stations.
  4. Netcasting. This is being done by women, for example WIMSRose for music, and FIRE (Feminist International Radio Endeavour) for feminist content. It is an excellent communications method, very flexible, especially with its possibilities for archiving, but it must not be relied on solely because to reach the kind of mass audience radio can reach would be too expensive. "The only true broadband is broadcast." –Frieda Werden
  5. Some ways to get feminist programming on existing radio stations:
    1. Media watch. Women in various parts of the world have put together media watch organizations
    2. Guerrilla radio
    3. Talk Show Circuit
    4. Produce syndicated programming
    5. Buy Air Time
    6. Offer Free Programming
    7. Work at a radio station:
      1. Ad Sales
      2. Support Staff
      3. On-air staff
      4. Management
      5. Women's Department
    8. Own a radio station (as radio goes digital, this may become more feasible again)
    9. Pirate radio station
    10. Pirate radio on the web
  6. The media dreams of feminists:
    1. Full-time syndicated radio news service(s)
    2. 24-hour international women's radio station
    3. Attempts to approach the ideal - local stations, international programs, web translation projects, webcasting
    4. 24-hour international women's radio on the web
    5. Feminist audio archive on the internet. There is a project brewing between Univerity of Maryland and WINGS for this.
  7. Funding sources:
    1. What Exists
    2. What We Need
    3. In the U.S. since the Reagan years, commercial radio stations have been relieved of the regulatory obligation to air any particular type of content, such as public affairs programming. Most radio stations are "all music all the time"
Appendix: The most common reasons funders have given for rejecting funding proposals from WINGS are that (a) "we don't fund media," or (b) "we only fund organizing." Here are two open letters WINGS has written to address these issues:

1) To the wonderful foundations who say "we don't fund media" 2) Letter to the women's foundations

Syndicated (distributed) programs:

a. 1973 - "Women Today" - a 13-part, syndicated half-hour live-on-tape program of moderated topical discussions with Texas feminists and female achievers, distributed by Longhorn Radio Network. This was a collaboration by a network, its home radio station, a well-known moderator, and a producer from the women's movement. Early example of an ongoing tradition of feminist talk/interview programs by and about women, most local and live, but some syndicated. Examples on the right include shows featuring Phyllis Schlaffly and Beverly LaHaye.

b. 1970s-present. Women's radio collectives. Because women often lack the ego and the time for one woman to keep producing a regular radio program by herself, women's collectives are often organized as a way of sharing the responsibility, the glory, and the work. Sometimes the collectives are organized through the stations, and sometimes organized outside the stations, to approach stations with programming ideas.

b. late 1970s - Feminist Radio Network - a catalog of women's radio programs produced at various radio stations, offered for distribution. Participants held a conference in Washington DC, 1979 (?).

c. 1970s - 1990s - Women's music programs, usually featuring only music performed by women, sometimes with an emphasis on lesbian music. Sometimes spelled "wimmin's" or other ways. One of the easier formats to produce, and still popular on college and community radio stations. Some women's music programs also include women's news or short features between the songs.

d. 1970s-1990s - Magazine format programs by and about women, e.g. "Majority Report" on noncommercial (Pacifica) radio station KPFA-FM, Berkeley; the lesbian-oriented "The Velvet Sledgehammer" on (Pacifica station) WBAI-FM, New York; the feminist Zeitpunkte on local government radio in West Berlin. "51%" WAMC. FIRE on shortwave.

e. Women's "minutes" (or less). Short taped features either distributed to radio stations or put onto "cart" for play throughout the day on a local station. Often these are produced for a special occasion: e.g., Women's Equality Day (U.S.), International Women's Day, or the 75th anniversary of women's suffrage in the U.S. Usually scripted for one reader, mixed with theme music.

f. Hersay. A script-only radio news service for women in the 1980s. The brief news headlines were written up and mailed (this was before fax and e-mail became popular), and were very widely used by announcers on women's music, magazine and news shows.

g. Commentaries. Scripted and edited, sent on tape as a collection of modules. Very successful on commercial and noncommercial radio. A spin-off of an existing progressive commentary show. Died from loss of funding, as it was all commercially produced but had no station revenues.

h. Women's news/current affairs movement. 1980s - present. News magazine ideas - one was regionally funded in Great Lakes regions. 51% - the women's news. WINGS. Women on the Line. UN Radio "Women"

i. Women's Radio Stations.

BB Facundis. June 15, 1994 - sold Jan 15, 1997. It was a tough job. Very hard to put all the people together. Internal problems. She was paying for everything but two investors, one a male engineer, pressuring her to make money. A small station - 6kw only at time sold - couldn't compte against 25-100,000 kw stations that had been very establiehsed . Telecom bill came up. It was hard to sell ads against 2 radio station combos - would have been impossible to sell against 6. Was only reaching 1/2 a million. She was just one station. Nothing else was available for her to buy as a station. She would have gone broke. Had an adult contemporary station - bought the programming from Westwood. Had programs every hour starting at 6:30 for 2 minutes that she used as seeds. They were done by local entities who were the experts - everything was constructive, positive. It was good information. A man with motivational moments. Health - what women could do, sponsored by a hospital. Diet, exercise, etc. Mostly physical. Women's sports education. Coashes from LSU Women's sports talk about their sports & what sports did for women - how important it was for women to develop skills from team sports as men had - how good it was for women to learn these early in life - later became CEOs of companies because they had developed goals, missions, teamwork. Talked about kind of body to have. Talked about relationships: with mother sister friends, etc. Contractors, what do you do about geting the right contractor to work on your house, how to weed out shams. Women lawyers about the law in Louisiana - Napoleonic law - if you have a business, divorce, tec - good info. On businesses. If you have diff. kinds of corporations, how to get help, where - how to plug into diff. programs. Labor dept to talk about ways to find jobs, how to write own resumes. Gentleman who did women in history - he would read the books on women who made a change in history & talk about it for 2 minutes. Something from police dept on security at home, latchkey kids, seasonal crime. People would call - men & women - and ask for the info they just gave. Had a wonderful library of oral history. It's now owned by the people who bought the station - wants to give it to the oral history at Louisiana state university.

She believes that a human being can do anything they set their mind to do: anything you learn in life is transferable to another field. She was first in p.r. and fashion (organization) ; then interior designer, specializing in health facilities (detail, writing specs, facilities); she has financial skills from home. Wanted to invest money in communications, but pricers were too inflated, so when the license came up, someone called her & asked if she wanted to do radio - she checked prospectuses for 2 years - this was a good opportunity to direct own station. Jumped into it in a month.

Sold the station at a profit - is going to be writing her own book on the station. Still working on things for women at LSU. In today's market an FM station would be at least 1/2 a million in a little town. Prices change depending on population coverage. If you want to get into it you have to have millions. She wishes she hadn't taken other investors on board - she had to take the engineer as a partner. You have to pay the best lawyers you can find in the business - in communiations you are going against real big Goliaths with money & resources. Only 3 entities own everything in the city of Baton Rouge, & that's happening throughout the country. So you really have to have a group of women with the same goals, everything very clear - start a group of women to own communications, use their knowledge as women & business people to put it together - includes hiring very capable men - but hire them, becuase if men copme in with any money they think they own everything.

She's now Pres. of NWPC of state of Louisiana. Keeping to the focus of trying to bring women up to what they are capable of getting what they earn. Very interested in seeing more women in political positions.

Did show up in Arbitron - sandwiched between 2 Adult Contemporary format stations - one hard AC for the younger group , soft attrct the older grp. Westwood 1 changed to go to a younger format while she was on it - younger men didn't like it, they're not secure enough as men - saw it as a threat. Men 28-40 loved it to listen to a woman's station & find out what we're talking about. Mostly the research was at the University. She feels something like this will happen again - she was ahead of her time. Thinks if it was done with enough money backing it, to keep a billboard campaign, a lot of people will turn to it when they find out that a woman's staion is not derogatory, extrmist, programs have meat not just fluff - would get a lot of stations of women 30-45, music contemporary & fun but not too loud, the words - want to be very much in mainstream & have fun - some programs are very insulting to her. Have to have the money.

did have enough $ allocated for advertising, but gamblng coming into the state & city tripled the cost of her advertising - billboards wnet from $1000 to $3000.

From Bogota Colombia. Wnet to Mary Mount College in VA.

Two othe women were trying to do somehting similar - the one in SF couldn't get the money (Marin) - the other one had filed for the license (Nebraska) & the investors were the problem. she had been waiting for the license longer than BB - she could not come up with the money - had so much trouble with the investors she had to sell them what she had.

The reason I was able to do what I did - a lot I learned from just being exposed to business. When we set up the corporation I wanted to make sure that I had all the reins in my hand, not the men I had to take in with me - I told them either I was the one who had total control & you would have zero, or I'm not getting into business with you - you don't come - she had 25% - ended up with 83% "nobody's going to have any more money in it than I have because the one who has the money holds the reins" - the guys signed that she had the control, but she never heard what she told them - the minute she got the license they wanted to take it away from her, but they couldn't do it. The license was given to her on merit by the judge - not because she was a woman - the judge was sending a message to the appeals court that she had done enough research & was going to get it on the air. She had appeals against her - it went to FCC, but she didn't pay off anybody - people said if you pay them off they will go away . That was the reason the men couldn't get the license from her - their idea was to take it awy from her. She had to be the general mgr - the judge set it up so they couldn't abuse the fact she was a woman. They changed the rules so much of women's preference - the FCC rules change constantly - you have to have the best lawyers in DC who know what's going on. There were 8 people filing for this license - 5 went to the hearings. This was a very long & expensive dragged out deal.

If I were getting into something like this I would tell men that I would like them to write in their handwriting what I'm saying - they all said "yeah, you're the one" - you have to be really smart & double yourself on everything - they still see us as easy prey so we have to be twice as smart as they are to progress. My daughter is going to have an easier time. I have a mission to women - I'm very partial to women, I get infuriated when I see women are not recognized for what they do. She's the Motivational coach for LSU women's basketball team - there was a Title IX suit against the university. She got the asst athletic director to let them do programs with her to start having a voice - talked to the team in the locker room told them they were fantastic, offered them the facilities of her radio station - they went out & won. She sat on the bench. She came on the following week & talked to them again. That 1st year they came up the ranks & last yr she was with them all the way to Chattanoonga. Were 9 in the coutnry;. Proves women need to be recognized for what they do - if you have somebody who believes in you you are going to achieve what you set out to do.

I believe in them 100%.

We all need to network when we find each other - have a network of women in high profile jobs that can keep preaching it: you can accomplish anything - we're going to mentor you.

Bebe Facundus
2714 Mcconnell
Baton R LA 70809

FAX 504=926-5030

Let her know what else I'm doing.

People don't usually tune in to a radio station at a particular time of day for a particular program, so be thinking about what programs are before and after yours, and

I produced a 13-week series of half-hour programs called "Wake Up, Sister!" on WALE-AM, Providence, Rhode Island in 1996-97, with the airtime underwritten ($1,300 -- $100 per half-hour ) by the Foundation for a Compassionate Society. There was little technical problem -- I hosted the program by phone from a studio in Austin, Texas (and once, by phone from a hotel lobby in Costa Rica), sometimes with a guest on the phone from another city, and sometimes with a guest in our Austin studio. The station also produced us a lovely ad to promote the show on the station (they had to hire a second woman to have a two-woman dialog in the ad.

When I contacted an ad agency in Providence to get us some advertising revenues, though, I was told that WALE was considered too low on the Arbitron rating (a measurement of audience) to be attractive to advertisers, despite the fact that it was a 50,000-watt station. I also asked people living around the margins of the broad signal area shown on WALE's map (which seemingly reached to the southern outskirts of Boston) to listen; and none of them could locate the station on their dials.

If we had tried this experiment in our own locale instead of in an unfamiliar venue, we would have had more resources to both investigate the station and promote the program to women we wanted to have listen.