09/05/2013 05:15 pm ET Updated Nov 05, 2013

The Need for Talk Radio Beyond Table Talk

As a long-time writer, but a much more recent radio talk show host, I have found that there are simply some things that are spontaneously said aloud that, if given more time, would not only never have been said, but certainly never written down. So it comes as no surprise that Robin Morgan, who has spent a lifetime dedicated to social justice for women and is a poet and author of over 20 books, has witnessed much the same as host of her own weekly radio show, 'Women's Media Center Live with Robin Morgan' ( "If I had to define myself in a word, it would be poet," Robin says, "and poetry is about distillation -- but on the show listeners hear me, and my guests, in relaxed, intimate prose, a 'liberated space' where we talk about all those subjects your parents called unfit for the dinner table, including sex, religion and politics!"

And that is the major part of the show's appeal to the famous, and soon-to-be famous, guests whose words would otherwise be more closely self-monitored. Branded as 'Talk Radio with a Brain,' the progressive radio hour, launches its second season on CBS WJFK 1580 AM and worldwide online at and iTunes on September 14. Robin has so far interviewed everyone from actors Debra Winger and Kathy Bates, to psychologist Carol Gilligan. "But Debra Winger and Kathy Bates didn't want to talk about acting, as they are so often asked to do," Robin says, "Debra discussed her strong opposition to fracking, and Kathy talked about her support of feminism around the world. And Carol," Robin continues, "wanted to talk about her new experience as an opera librettist. The show offers what I call 'an alternate reality.'"

Free to introduce a different aspect of themselves to the world, the show's guests are provided with a supportive forum that is all too rare for women. "Likely, this is because there are still so few women in radio," Robin adds. In the U.S., women represent only 29 percent of the total radio news force and only 13 percent of Talkers magazine's 'Heavy Hundred' important radio talk show hosts . "From Aristotle's infamous quote, 'Silence is a woman's glory', to Bell Labs' claim in 1927 that 'the speech characteristics of not blend with the electrical characteristics of present-day radio equipment,' to the even more recent male labeling of NPR's three prominent female radio show hosts as 'the fallopian jungle' there unfortunately exists," Robin says, "a politics of silence." So it is not surprising that The Women's Media Center, founded in 2005 by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan, and Gloria Steinem to ensure that the other half of the population, women and girls, become visible and powerful in the media (, crafted a show to further assure that women's stories are not only told, but heard. "We're aiming to transform the world through media," Robin says.

And so they are. This year, on National Equal Pay Day (April 9), a date that symbolized how far women must still go to earn what men earn, Robin hosted a show that demystified economics. On December 25th, rather than celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Hannukah, she hosted a Winter Solstice show featuring a Wiccan priestess, an atheist, and a newly feminist evangelical minister as guests. For Columbus Day, she focused the show on Native Americans.

But the limited representation of women in the male-dominated media reaches far beyond our country's borders. Robin's show spotlights injustices faced by women across the globe, whether in an interview with Wajeha al-Haider, the Saudi activist and writer recently sentenced to prison for aiding an abused woman, or with members of Ingoma Nshya, a women's drumming troupe formed by Rwandan genocide survivors. "We played a tape of their music on the show," Robin adds. And, thanks to iTunes, the show's reach is now endless, listened to as far away as Kurdistan, Egypt, Australia, South Africa, the Commonwealth countries, Japan, Latin America, and Europe.

Still, its international reach is no more important than its far-reaching influence right here at home. As one of the few shows that has bravely addressed right-wing spin phrases like the "death tax" and "partial-birth abortion," while also providing a platform for Zoey Kotzambasis, vice president of the College Republicans at the University of Arizona, to defend breaking with her party on such social issues as gay marriage and abortion, Robin acknowledges that "we respect all our guests." But it doesn't stop there. "We also have great respect for our listeners. We know that they have the insight, intelligence, and sensibilities to thirst for better information than the run-of-the-mill...and just by tuning into the show, it's as if they're engaging in a revolutionary act."

Lori Sokol, Ph.D. is an organizational psychologist and host of 'Work Life Matters with Dr. Lori Sokol,' on WGCH 1490 AM in Greenwich, CT.