Since going on the air in October of 1993 on Twin Cities community radio station KFAI, the show Disabled and Proud: It’s NOT an Oxymoron has brought listeners “insights into, ideas about, and discussions of disability culture.” That’s what Martha Hage says at the top of each show. Now, after nine years behind the microphone, the founder and host is stepping down.
In an interview last month with Access Press, Hage confessed that the idea for the show came to her in a dream. In the summer of 1993, after being laid off from her job, Hage says she dreamt about a radio station which “was devoted to disability issues and disability culture.” Of course, there was no such station, but she began to ask around the community to see if there was one that might be interested in having a program with a disability focus.
Upon learning that part of the mission of KFAI Community Radio was to represent the un-represented, Hage thought, “Who could be more unrepresented on the radio than people with disabilities?” Soon, Disabled and Proud took to the air as a monthly feature on KFAI. After three shows, DAP went to a weekly format, and has been a fixture on the Twin Cities airwaves ever since.
When I asked Hage what she, personally, had gotten out of her years as host of the region’s only radio program on disability culture, she laughed and said, “Exhaustion!” Then she got serious and spoke of how much she had learned. “I have met just such a wide variety of people from all avenues of the disability community. And I personally have gained such an understanding of all disabilities.” She added, it has been wonderful to learn how many different things people with disabilities are doing in the community!
Asked to recall highlights of the past nine years, Hage laughed and said, “Well, the one where my heart fluttered was when I interviewed John Hockenberry.” Interviewing a fellow journalist, and one internationally known, was “terrifying,” she admitted. Hage also told of her interview with the late Justin Dart and how amazing it was, “after the tape recorder went off, and we just started talking.” The opportunity to meet and talk to such people, she said, has been one of the greatest things about hosting the show.
Hage pointed out that it is still not uncommon, when talking about the show, to hear people say, “Disability culture? What in the world is that?” But she is clear that the idea of disability culture has been at the center of Disabled and Proud since the beginning. By interviewing people with a broad range of disabilities, who are engaged in a broad range of activities and occupations, Hage said the show has attempted to “get a sense of what disability culture is and also what it may become.” This, she says, is important for people both within the disability community and for people who don’t have disabilities.
Hage’s last show will be October 29th, after which she will turn over the reins to her (“Excellent!”) producer and cohost, Sam Jasmine.
Disabled and Proud: It’s NOT an Oxymoron can be heard every Tuesday night from 7:00 until 7:30 on KFAI Community Radio, 90.3 FM in Mpls, 106.7 FM in St. Paul.