Women's International Newsgathering Service co-founder Frieda Werden reflects on 30+ years of feminist radio

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Image: Frieda Werden on Denman Island BC, 2018.

Long before any of us were podcasting, Frieda Werden was doing audio programs for an about women from a feminist perspective. She is cofounder of WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service, which started production back in 1986.

Coordinating an international network on a low budget was a huge job back then. Low budget organizations couldn't afford satellite transmission time, which was the only way to get files from reporter to the production studios quickly. WINGS contributors came from different parts of the world, so tapes traveled by a lot of planes to get to WINGS studios to be packaged into a radio program.

Distributed primarily through community radio, the program has been produced weekly for 27 years. That’s a lot of words.

And it isn’t just the technology that’s changed. “A show only about women .. that’s just too radical”. That’s what Frieda was told many times in the early days. But that did not deter Frieda.  She has been involved in the women’s movement even before her forays into broadcasting, and has seen a lot of ideas that were radical in 1986 become commonly accepted in the years that followed.  She’s seen a lot of change in the women’s movement over more than five decades. She’s even credited as being one of the Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975 in a book by that title written by Barbara J. Love.

Frieda is formerly from Texas, and worked in various places in the U.S. until 2002 when she moved up to Canada.

Victoria Fenner, rabble.ca's executive producer of podcasts took a trip out to the west coast in May and was able to record a conversation with Frieda in her home on Denman Island, British Columbia.  

Image: Frieda Werden on Denman Island BC, 2018. Photo by Victoria Fenner

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