[Marxism] Nanette Rainone, Early Creator of Feminist Radio Shows, Dies at 73
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Thu Jun 2 10:12:49 MDT 2016
NY Times, June 2 2016
Nanette Rainone, Early Creator of Feminist Radio Shows, Dies at 73
By WILLIAM GRIMES
Nanette Rainone at WBAI in New York, where, starting in 1969, she
developed programs dedicated to women’s issues. Credit WBAI
Nanette Rainone, who as a reporter and programmer at the New York radio
station WBAI in the late 1960s and early ’70s created some of the first
programs dedicated to feminism and women’s issues, died on May 23 at her
home in Manhattan. She was 73.
The cause was complications of breast cancer, her son, Bruno Blumenfeld,
Ms. Rainone (pronounced ray-KNOWN) was a volunteer at the station in
1969 when she developed the idea for “Womankind,” a feminist news and
information radio show that included interviews.
At the time, feminism was struggling to earn a place in left-wing
politics, where radical ideas still coexisted with sexist attitudes. Ms.
Rainone hoped to overcome this paradox, taking a point of view shaped by
her membership in groups like the Feminists and New York Radical Feminists.
She soon added “Electra Rewired,” a program produced entirely by women
for women. It was broadcast live at night and ran until dawn, with
listeners calling in to discuss the topics addressed by the host, Liza
Cowan, and her guests.
In late 1970, Ms. Rainone came up with a third program, “Consciousness
Raising,” in which seven regular guests gathered at the WBAI studio in
Manhattan once a week to talk about topics such as marriage, divorce,
housework and sexuality.
Ms. Rainone edited the talk down to 45 minutes, broadcast it on Fridays
at noon and let listeners call in to express their opinions for another
45 minutes. The idea, she once wrote, was simple: to present “a group of
women honestly discussing their lives.”
In 1971, she became the head programmer for WBAI. She was a producer of
“The Sex Programme,” which encouraged listeners to call in and seek
advice from sex therapists, and of a radio series on women’s diaries.
Nanette Rainone was born on Dec. 4, 1942, in Queens, where she grew up
in Middle Village. Her father, Massimo, was a printer. Her mother, the
former Anna Solomita, worked as a bookkeeper. On their first date, they
had attended the musical “No, No Nanette,” which inspired the name they
would give their daughter.
Ms. Rainone attended Newtown High School in Queens and in 1965 earned a
degree in English from Queens College, where she was active in leftist
groups like the Student Peace Union and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee.
She pursued graduate studies, but after marrying Ralph Blumenfeld, a
reporter for The New York Post, in 1966, she left school to work as a
clerk at Life magazine. The marriage ended in divorce. Her second
husband, Harvey W. Schultz, New York City’s commissioner of
environmental protection during the last of Mayor Edward I. Koch’s three
terms, died in 2007.
In addition to her son, Ms. Rainone is survived by a brother, Martin;
three stepsons, Jason, Matthew and Daniel Schultz; a granddaughter; and
After leaving WBAI in 1976 Ms. Rainone worked on the mayoral campaign of
Representative Bella Abzug and became the communications director for
Howard Golden, the Brooklyn borough president. While in Mr. Golden’s
office, she created the Fund for the Borough of Brooklyn — now called
BRIC, for Brooklyn Information and Culture — to present free
performances and cultural programs as a way of attracting visitors to
As the fund’s president, an office she held until 2002, she organized
the annual Celebrate Brooklyn! festival in Prospect Park and played a
key role in creating the Rotunda Gallery on Clinton Street, which
showcases the artwork of Brooklyn residents, as well as Brooklyn
Community Access Television (now called the Brooklyn Public Network).
In the mid-1970s, when radical politics seemed to be losing some of its
fervor and sense of direction, Ms. Rainone reaffirmed her faith in
WBAI’s mission in its program guide: “The station stands — having been
the first to present women’s programing — as the only media institution
which has not virtually abandoned the questions raised by the movements
since the demonstrators left the streets.”
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