Volunteer Profile: Madeleine Winterfalcon

1. Where are you from originally?

I was born in the Netherlands in a resort town that no one here can pronounce which is a suburb of the Hague. When I was four we moved to New York, first Brooklyn and then Far Rockaway Beach on Long Island. My father then got a job in Michigan so that’s where I grew up.

2. What do you do outside of your volunteering at WMPG? (Other causes, employment, hobbies, etc)

Well, I work here at USM as an Administrative Assistant in the American and New England Studies Program, I am a photographer, oral historian and have always been very interested in recording and preserving lesbian culture. It’s the reason I got my first camera back in the late seventies. I also get involved with various political causes, presently my issues include same gender marriage and universal healthcare. I also have a great love for animals – our household includes an English Pointer named Rhodi and two cats, Raizel and Daikon. We used to keep ducks who would take off to the pond across the road and only come back when they were hungry. It was quite funny – we would get phone calls from neighbors reporting on their whereabouts.

3. When did you first become involved at WMPG?

I got involved at WMPG about 3 years ago when I hit 50 and said what now? I have always enjoyed event production work and came to realize that my talents lay in behind the scenes work, so I took the DJ training so I could become an engineer. I was very lucky to almost immediately be asked to engineer a summer replacement show, Home Dad. I worked with Chip Edgar for about a year. I never planned to be on the air, but when Dave Bunker approached me about doing this show, I just couldn’t say no.

4. Were you a listener prior to your involvement?

I’ve been a listener since I moved to Maine from San Francisco in 1991. My partner Naomi and I have been very involved in the LGBT community for a long time and have both been guests on Michael Danahy’s and Osip Bukarin’s shows during the referendum campaigns for gay rights in the mid to late 90s.I really liked the energy at the station, so it stuck in my mind.

5. How do you define your show?

Queertalk is a show where we discuss issues pertaining to and of interest to the LGBT community. So that leaves it fairly open.I like to see it as a forum for dealing with issues that may not be taken up elsewhere and for having fun. It continues to evolve.

6. Why is Queertalk an important show to be on the air?

I’ve received positive responses from all over the country, but I’m particularly gratified by the response from the greater Portland LGBT and ally communities.Queertalk seems to fill a need for local LGBT programming in the area that nationally produced programs don’t seem to meet.People get to hear people they know talk about their issues in a framework they are familiar with. I believe it creates a sense of belonging that’s been missing lately. When there are concrete issues to be fought for or against, people mobilize and find community in the political work. However, when there are no pressing issues folks tend to be more isolated, and I include myself in that. Queertalk gives us a weekly forum for discussion, music and fun.

7. Do you consider yourself an activist?

Absolutely. I have been involved in political causes of one kind or another all of my adult life, beginning on my college campus in 1968 where I got involved in the anti-Vietnam war movement and joined SDS. When I returned to school a number of years later as a single parent, I became very involved in the feminist movement and lesbian and gay politics, as it was then called, when I came out in 1979. When I moved to Portland, Naomi and I, along with two other lesbians, started Apex which was a news journal for the gay community in Maine. That ran for about 4 years. I’ve also been involved in one way or another in other queer issues here – the many referendums for gay rights, the Maine Rural Network. Right now I’m sort of on hiatus, at least until the next thing comes along.

8. What is the single biggest issue facing Maine’s queer community?

That’s a hard question, because there are so many inequities that we have to fight against. But I would say that basic human rights would be first on my list. Once we can’t be thrown out of our apartments, be refused accommodations or credit or have to put up with any other act of discrimination, then we will have made progress. The marriage issue is also very important. It’s about being considered adult and a citizen of this society and about protecting our relationships and our families.

9. How has Queertalk been received thus far?

As I said before, Queertalk seems to fill a void in local programming. Most responses have been positive. I have had two negative calls, but you can’t please everyone and at least they’re calling and not turning off their radios.

10. Have you been involved with WMPG in other capacities/ shows?

I engineered Home Dad with Chip Edgar for a year and staffed phones during Begathon. I would love to be on more committees and do more event planning, but not living in Portland makes that more difficult.

11. Do you have any favorite Queertalk shows that really stick out?

Well, although I enjoy every program I do, I must say being able to interview Cris Williamson and Holly Near rates very near the top. Of course, having been a major fan for years, it was quite a treat to do that interview. The other show that jumps to mind is my first show about Charlie Howard. Not only was I able to locate people who knew Charlie and who were in Bangor at the time, getting three of them together in the same room after they hadn’t seen each other in 20 years was quite a moment.

12. Any shows you’re planning for the future you’d like to tell us about?

I’m planning a show on paganism in the near future and in March, Howard Solomon and Steve Wessler will be on.They’re planning a conference called Charlie Howard 20 Years Later: How Far Has Maine Come?I’d like to do more shows with Maine gay musicians and I will certainly try to stay current on issues as they come up.

13. What are some of your favorite shows on WMPG?

I really love the blues, so I am a frequent listener to the Evening Sun strip of programming. And as an old folkie, I love to listen to the 6:30-8:30 a.m. strip. Us Folk is another favorite. Chris Darling has turned me on to many artists that I would never have heard anywhere else and who are now favorites at our house. And Democracy Now – I listen almost every day. Mostly I just love the eclecticness (is that a word?) of WMPG.

14. What shows/events stick out as some of the best during your time at WMPG?

The Fat Tuesday celebration was the first event I attended as a listener. That was when it was held at the station and you could hardly move. It’s great fun.Of course, the 30th Anniversary party was fabulous! I also truly appreciate Michael Cutting playing the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. on his day. We all need to be reminded of his words. Shows that I really miss now that they are no longer on are Michael Danahy’s show and Jessica Lockhart’s folk show. It was actually Jessica’s show that hooked me on WMPG.

15. You were the engineer for Home Dad, so you know what’s involved with getting a talk show on the air. Who is on your support staff?

My engineer is Sarah Donnelly who came on board as a new engineer and is doing a great job. I do my own producing at this point. I do have to add, however, that my unofficial staff writer is my partner, Naomi Winterfalcon. She is an avid radio listener and I always count on her to let me know if any of my questions for a particular show work for her or not. I really couldn’t do this show without her support. Thanks, Naomi from Standish!

16. Why is WMPG important to you?

It’s a wonderful community resource. Where else can a person just walk in and become involved as a volunteer, be trained as a DJ and propose and do a show based on their own interests? It’s also one of the few places left that is independent and where you can hear some truth. WMPG is an amazing place. When I’m at the station I feel such a sense of community.

17. Are you a music fan? What are you listening to at home these days?

I am a great music fan.I have very eclectic tastes from 60s rock and protest folk to global music and everything in between. I’m presently listening to David Francey, Loreena McKennitt, Dave Carter and Tracy Graham, Manu Chao (thanks Jacque!). I’m also revisiting a lot of Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. I’ve also been a lifelong Beatles fan.It all depends on my mood. I could go on for pages.

18. I’ve heard stories about your days in the rock scene in Detroit. Care to share any with our readers?

Well, if you must know I said that I’ve always been involved in political causes. When I first went away to college at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo in 1968, I immediately got involved with radical politics and an underground newspaper. One of my first reporting assignments was to interview a band called the MC5 who were appearing at a teen nightclub near Pontiac, Michigan where my family lived at the time. I got the assignment since I would be home that weekend. I got my interview and went back to college. A short time later, our newspaper came under attack and our printer refused to publish it anymore. Long story short, I contacted the MC5 and they agreed to come to Kalamazoo to do a benefit for us. My first production work. That same year the short-lived annual Detroit Rock and Roll Festival was held (for only one year!). That summer I was living at the MC5 house in Ann Arbor and many of the artists who performed at the festival stayed there – it was a huge place. I got to meet people like Sun Ra and members of his band, Iggy Pop (with the Stooges at that time), and David Peel and the Lower Eastside. I actually played cowbell with them at the festival. I also met Dr. John at the festival while I was hanging out with the band. I got to go to a lot of concerts that year and that’s all I’ll say about that!

19. How would you describe WMPG to someone who had never tuned us in?

Eclectic, lively, good energy, exciting, never a dull moment, great personalities and great information. I tell people now that WMPG is exciting because whenever you tune in, you can hear something different. People seem to resonate with that.

20. Parting shot/comments to WMPG listeners

You’re what makes us go – keep listening and see you on Queertalk! Oh, and does anyone one know of a good, friendly hand drumming group?