International Women’s Day, March 8, 2015
KPFA-94.1fm, Community-powered radio went all out for International Women’s Day 2015. The volunteer organizers, led by Vylma V., scheduled 24 hours of woman-produced radio programming but in their enthusiasm produced 25 hours of continuous woman-centered broadcasts. It was awesome, with music, interviews, lectures commentaries, comedies, poetry, and documentaries, including on-the-air autobiographical interviews with the 3 KPFA women elders who were being honored: Avotcja, Jennifer Stone and myself, Nina Serrano.
KPFA International Women’s Day (IWD 2015) celebrations also presented a live ceremonial event in the Performance Studio honoring the three long time program producers. Jeannine Etter and Lisa Dettmer organized the wonderful event. All three of us honorees are also writers, poets, and playwrights with decades-long histories at KPFA. The live ceremony, with Sisters of the Drum invoking the ancestors into the studio with a standing-room-only audience, moved me deeply. Women traditionally have been prevented from playing the drum, but these women, Sandy Mills, Mars Stevens, and Zakiya Zindagi, played skillfully calling upon the spirits of brave women from Harriet Tubman to Lolita Lebron to join us.
KPFA programmer Joy Moore hosted the honest and heartfelt event. The all-woman speakers reflected feminist thought and spirituality, making references to our individual history as women and as members of the KPFA community. When MC Joy declared that there are only two kinds of people: “Women and their children,” it was met with cheers and laughter. I am still smiling.
KPFA program director Laura Prives first interviewed Jennifer Stone on the air and remembered their earliest encounters that led to their both becoming involved in the station. Kate Raphael, co-producer of Women’s Magazine, interviewed Avotcja and myself on the air.
Long-time acclaimed talk show host Kris Welch introduced Jennifer Stone at the event. Jennifer reminded us that the ERA (Equal Rights Act) had never been voted on as an amendment to our constitution – so any reactionary government, and even a nice liberal one, could cut back the pro-woman gains at any time – as is currently happening around abortion, birth control and voting. Julieta Kusnir, one of my co-producers of La Raza Chronicles, introduced me, saying how much she learned from me. In my remarks, I said, how much I learn from her, as well as our other coproducers, Vanessa Bohm and Vylma V. With my baby great- grandson making noises in the background, I noted that we all need to keep KPFA growing so free speech radio airwaves will be there for him and his generation.
Vylma V. introduced Avotcja as a mentor and matriarch in the Puerto Rican Bay Area community. Avotcja told how her life-long love of music inspires her to bring the wide variety of musical genres to listening audiences. She continues her work on both KPFA-fm and KPOO-fm, both community stations.
I am so proud of KPFA women and our bold, outspoken, strong, liberation minded hearts, technological savvy and voices. Check out the video report on the event included in this blog post.