[Marxism] Nanette Rainone, Early Creator of Feminist Radio Shows, Dies at 73

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jun 2 10:12:49 MDT 2016

NY Times, June 2 2016
Nanette Rainone, Early Creator of Feminist Radio Shows, Dies at 73

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 
three step-grandchildren.

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 
the borough.

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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