In the landscape of radio, there are certain milestones that a programme may reach that signify its progress on the path to world domination. One of those milestones is achieving syndication. Another is 100 shows. In early 2014, my fat politics radio show Friend of Marilyn, is closing in on both.
FOM began in August of 2011, and has welcomed 62 guests, highlighted 100 blog posts, and played music from over 30 fabulous fat artists.
The format of the show hasn’t changed since the beginning. I open by responding to a recent event, comment, or piece of research. I’ve talked about Samoa air proposing a ‘pay what you weigh’ fare for air travel, and Rachel Smalley’s accidental on air mic comment about NZ’s lardos and heifers. I’ve shared my thoughts on the NZ Adult Nutrition Survey, and Otago University’s NEEDNT food list. Sometimes I share a call for papers or promote an upcoming conference or event.
Next, I chat with an invited guest. Guests have ranged from fat activists across the world, to fat artists, fat performers, fat designers, and Fat Studies scholars. Marilyn Wann, the show’s namesake, was the first guest on the show. I’ve spoken with Substantia Jones, Jes from the Militant Baker, and Amanda Levitt. In the final segment of the show, I highlight a blog piece from the Fatosphere. Looking back over the last 99 shows, pieces from The Fat Heffalump, Shakesville, and Radically Visible. The show closes with music from a fat artist(Gossip, Heart, Aretha Franklin, The Donnas…)
Fat radio and podcasts have a fatlicious history. Judith Stein & Meredith Lawrence made some shows in Boston back in the 80s – ‘Plain Talk About Fat’ in 1984 and ’30 Big Minutes With Fat Liberation’ in 1985. According to a piece by Charlotte Cooper, these two shows aired on International Women’s Day on student radio at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Listen here!
Moving up two decades, we’ve got Marilyn Wann & Heather McCalister co-hosting a pirate radio show in San Francisco called “Fat-A-Tat-Tat — Soundtrack for A/The Fat Revolution” from 2004-2005. I haven’t been able to track down anywhere online where you may listen – if you know of a link, please send it to me!
From 2008-2011, Dr. Peggy Elam and Pat Ballard co-hosted the Health at Every Size Radio Show on Radio Free Nashville. Other fat podcasts from the decade include the Two Whole Cakes Fatcast (2010-2011) by Lesley Kinzel & Marianne Kirby (they actually had a single show air in 2013), the The Body Love Wellness Podcast (2010-) by Golda Poretsky, and the Femme Cast by Bevan Branlandingham.
These shows provide counter programming to the normative discourse on fatness and obesity in our culture. They create/host conversations in which accepted ideas and stereotypes about fatness are challenged; drawing both praise and derision. I did an interview with the local paper about the 100th show of Friend of Marilyn, and the reporter asked whether listeners regularly sent me non-fan mail. I shared that I am blissfully unaware if people are hate listening to my show. Most of the feedback I receive outside of the Fatosphere is triggered by mainstream media attention, not what I write on my blog or say on my show.
According to the metrics collected by Access Manawatu, Friend of Marilyn has around 250 regular listeners, and is ranked in the top 5 programmes produced by the station. It’s recently been added to the Airshare Project, which allows other Access radio stations in New Zealand to broadcast the fat positive programme.
I’m not sure what the future holds for Friend of Marilyn, as a blog or radio show, but I hope that I continue to be in a position where I may share fat positive messages with those listening. I believe that safe spaces for fat people are important. And I’m committed to doing my part to ensure that fat people get to speak for themselves, and not just have their lives thinsplained by others. I appreciate all who have helped me along this journey; I hope they will continue along with me.
(Btw, I’ve a list of people I’d love to have as guests on the show, like Marianne Kirby, Lesley Kinzel, Paul Campos, Michael Gard, Rachel Colls, and Juicy D Light. Who knows? Maybe one of them will listen to the 100th show and send me a Tweet! And if anyone reading would like to come on my show, please let me know!)