Rediscovered Radio: Women’s Voices in the WYSO Archives

May 10, 2017

Throughout this season of Rediscovered Radio, we’ve heard voices from the 1960s and 70s, from the peace movement, Black Power and Native rights activists.  The early days of the Women’s Movement is well-represented in our collection too.   Producer Jocelyn Robinson gives us a sampling of the women’s voices that can be heard.

On International Women’s Day in 1973, young women at Antioch College and around the country were taking cues from the civil rights movement. They were raising consciousness and their voices in solidarity with their sisters everywhere, and WYSO was there to record the event.

Credit WYSO Archives

The rally that day included singing, and speakers, like striking garment workers from the Farah pants factory in Texas, low income moms, and home grown activists from the Yellow Springs Women’s Center.

WYSO’s collection doesn’t contain many big names from women’s liberation, it’s local and intimate, reflecting grassroots aspects of the movement. For example, Antioch College faculty member Marge Nelson, who became a radical feminist lesbian after traditional marriage and raising a family. She lectured on the history of the movement.

In the summer of ’73, the Radical Feminist Collective of Dayton Women’s Liberation made a recording of a sort of rap session on marriage.  The recording quality isn’t very good, but the tape provides an honest view into the lives of real women with real experiences. One woman says the only reason she got married was because she was supposed to; that not marrying was considered socially unacceptable.

Pam Conine, one of the hosts of Women in Music, in the original WYSO studios in the Antioch College Student Union
Credit courtesy of Pam Conine

The WYSO Archives has more specials, too: on women’s working conditions, on how young girls are socialized, on women’s health issues. And there’s Women in Music, a weekly music program that aired from 1975 to 2002, with a changing cast of dedicated hosts. They played influential women artists like Cris Williamson, Holly Near, and Sweet Honey in the Rock, and kept listeners informed about music festivals and other events that created feminist solidarity in the Miami Valley and beyond.

In the future, we’ll explore these recordings, and trace the threads of the women’s movement that weave through the WYSO Archives. Until then, here’s the Antioch Women’s Liberation jug band in 1972, taking us out to "I’m a W-o-m-a-n".

Rediscovered Radio is supported in part by Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.