Mt. Airy resident Kay Wood and Glenside resident Linda Rosenwein were both already quite accomplished when they started their show.
Mt. Airy resident Kay Wood and Glenside resident Linda Rosenwein were both already quite accomplished when they met several years ago as members of the Chestnut Hill Monthly Meetings. Like so many Quakers, they had a lot in common: concern for the environment, racial and social injustice, poverty, growing authoritarianism among some holding public office, crime and climate change.
Since graduating college in 1975, Wood’s paintings, books and installations have been shown in dozens of galleries, museums and alternative spaces in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, and New York City. Inspired by the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, she radically changed her art to reach a wider audience about destructive energy policies, creating her first environmental graphic novel, “The Big Belch,” about oil companies exploding methane. She has since written a second environmental graphic novel, “The Big Frank,” a comic tale of an oily swamp of fracking, corruption and injustice.
Rosenwein's original career was as a Ph.D.-level developmental research psychologist. Later, she worked in a number of psychology-related fields after additional training as a clinical psychologist, a school psychologist, and a marketing professional. She grew up in a bird-watching, scientific and environmentally conscious family.
So this was a collaboration made in environmental heaven. One thing led to another, and with significant help from Jim Bear, the late founder of the community-based radio station G-town Radio and Tom Casetta, now station manager, this dynamic duo has started a radio show, “Planet Philadelphia,” which is dedicated to exploring environmental and other contemporary issues, like rising sea levels, glaciers melting, wildfires, and life-threatening heat waves.
Wood is the producer and host of the show, and Rosenwein is the assistant producer and reporter. The first show, on Sept. 4, 2015, was an interview with George Lakey, Swarthmore professor of peace and conflict studies and founder of the Global Nonviolent Action database.
“I was used to interviewing people as a psychologist, but I was really nervous because I had no radio background,” Rosenwein said. “But we just talked the whole hour and made it through. I realized I could do this. It has become a great partnership and the best job I ever had.”
There is a new topic for each show, which requires a lot of research and preparation.
“That way we can go into detail and ask detailed and complicated questions, unlike other media outlets that can only do a short item on an environmental issue,” she said.
Wood, whose art background did not prepare her for speaking on air, said she got a lot of coaching from both Bear and Casetta.
“I didn't think I could do it, but I got a lot of hand-holding,” she said.
And she’s glad she did.
“I've had an interest in the environment since high school, but now I know there was so much I did not know,” she said. “I find the guests and do research. We always meet very interesting people, whom we would not otherwise get to meet, and we always find out things we did not know before.”
Planet Philadelphia airs from 4-5 p.m. on the first and third Friday every month on Germantown Community Radio (92.9 FM) in Philadelphia and is simultaneously live-streamed on G-Town Radio. The show also airs on Villanova's radio station, WXVU, on Thursdays at 9 a.m. at 89.1 FM, and is available for streaming on the internet.
Some of the more prominent guests the pair has interviewed include Mary Robinson, former first female president of Ireland; U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, Dr. John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium-ion battery (who died on June 25 of this year at age 100); former Rear Admiral David Titley, former World Bank senior vice-president Vinod Thomas, local beekeeper Kathy May, and climate change activist Jeremy Rios Griffin.
Planet Philadelphia is an all-volunteer operation and invites input from listeners and other local residents.
“We have had more than 400 guests, many from the Northwest but also from all around the globe,” said Wood. “We have heard from people in Japan, Australia and New Zealand.”
Before Covid, all the interviews were live.
“Then we went to phone and Zoom interviews,” Wood said. “We also used to interview people in their offices or even on the street. We may start doing that again.”
“This show is a great example of what community radio is,” Casetta said. “You don't need a history of broadcast skills. You need passion and a zest to share your knowledge and engage the community. And our listeners connect with that chance to share ideas. We get a lot of feedback.”
For more information, call 215-609-4301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Len Lear can be reached at email@example.com