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Community Radio Movement of Movements: Frieda Werden of Womens International News Gathering Service

At a time when most media is providing a flawed story of our existence, Mobilized focused on those who are shining the light on real issues and stories of brave and caring individuals who shine the light on what’s working while enabling a better, healthier outcome. Frieda Werden of Womens International News Gathering Service is doing just that, and more. 

Frieda Werden is the Series Producer of WINGS: Womens International News Gathering Service.  “WINGS is at different times horrifying, exciting, funny, eye-opening and definitely inspirational.” –Nikki Reece, programme producer, Plains FM, Christchurch, New Zealand

WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service is an independent radio production group that distributes weekly half-hour news and current affairs programs by and about women around the world. WINGS programs are free to non-commercial radio stations, researchers, and individuals. Listen on local community and campus radio stations, and now also stream or download as podcasts. To subscribe or join the email list, contact

Frieda Werden is the Series Producer of WINGS: Womens International News Gathering Service.  “WINGS is at different times horrifying, exciting, funny, eye-opening and definitely inspirational.” –Nikki Reece, programme producer, Plains FM, Christchurch, New Zealand

WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service is an independent radio production group that distributes weekly half-hour news and current affairs programs by and about women around the world. WINGS programs are free to non-commercial radio stations, researchers, and individuals. Listen on local community and campus radio stations, and now also stream or download as podcasts.

Frieda Werden is the Producer of WINGS: Womens International News Gathering Service.  “WINGS is at different times horrifying, exciting, funny, eye-opening and definitely inspirational.” –Nikki Reece, programme producer, Plains FM, Christchurch, New Zealand

WINGS: Women’s International News Gathering Service is an all-woman independent radio production company that produces and distributes news and current affairs programs by and about women around the world. WINGS programs are used by non-commercial radio stations, women’s studies, and individuals. Programs can be heard on local radio stations, on shortwave, on the internet, and on cassettes. The WINGS Mailing List provides updates on stories and new information about women’s media.

“Though I have been involved in women’s issues for years, I was still struck by the contrast of your broadcast to the news we are usually hearing — news reflecting male interests in a basically male world. Women’s affairs are a hidden current in the flow of world events.”– Kristin Reilly, listener, Buffalo, New York

What excites you the most to do your work?

I love learning about the world and working with the voices of women who are moving to improve it.

How do you remain confident in your ability to produce what you produce? After all, there’s so much noise in the world, especially media noise! And how do you keep “sane” in this time of “turmoil”?

I can’t say I keep sane, but I try to recognize when I’m going off course. My main guidelines are to constantly research the facts and to recognize multiple perspectives, to prioritize the voices of the women we are covering, and to concisely present the information listeners from other parts of the world may need to have filled in.

In your opinion, what is your most prized accomplishment?

33 years of raising women’s voices through radio worldwide, with the help of wonderful producers and the community radio movement.

How do you maintain a balance between artistic and creative integrity and commercial success and/or finance?

I have been lucky enough to receive just enough paid work and donation support for the project that I could ignore commercial success and focus on creative and journalistic integrity. Our weekly radio programs are distributed free of charge to community radio stations – a largely voluntary sector.

What would you like to do that you have not done yet?

Get the entire collection of WINGS radio programs and important raw audio and video digitized and ensconced online.

How would you best inspire or empower someone who wants to go into your field?

I would get them started on a project they love and offer instruction or feedback if and when needed.

If there are any word or a sentence (or paragraph) that you refer to every day to stay inspired

Today’s news is tomorrow’s history – Keep women’s actions on the record!

What is the last concert you experienced?

It was a solo cellist with a pianist accompanying. Classical music including a few new compositions.

What was the first musical performance you experienced?

My mother is a musician so I probably cannot recall that far back. I do remember attending the opera Hansel and Gretel by Humperdinck with my dad when I was 4.

Do you have a favourite motion picture?

Born in Flames by Lizzie Borden.

At times like these, with so much news of dysfunction and chaos, how do you prepare for your day so that you can maintain your integrity and autonomy—without going insane?

Not very well. I often start the day reading and sharing articles on Facebook. At some point, I go for a long walk with the dogs.

What would you recommend to anyone who wants to go into your field?

Go to a community radio station – they will train you for free. Treat radio as an opportunity to meet other people and learn from them and share what they have to say.

Is there a story or an experience that you encountered and/or exposed or helped to bring to the surface that you are the most proud of?

I worked on the Texas Women’s History Project 1979-81, with a team of women including the Curator, Ruthe Winegarten. Among other things, we made a timeline of Black women’s history in Texas, and later I helped her write the book Black Texas Women – 150 Years of Trial and Triumph. There was a second volume containing all the primary sources, so that other historians could write their own. In I think it was 1981, Ruthe and I gave a talk at the Berkshires Women’s History Conference at Vassar, titled “Creating a Women’s History Industry in Texas.” It was an aspirational moment, but that has really come true, there are many women researching and writing about Texas women’s history now, and the Ruthe Winegarten Foundation for Texas Women’s History, established in Ruthe’s memory, helps to publish some of their books. The women’s history is not just about the women – it’s about shifting the focus of history from wars to community-building.

Links to some of the WINGS websites include:

 

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