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GOSHEN -- Wilma Harder got her radio gig by responding to a want-ad in a WVPE newsletter.
She'd grown up as a fan of public radio. She'd also listened to album-oriented rock on the radio and would hear maybe one female artist in an entire day.
She'd had a shift at WGCS, the Goshen College radio station, after taking a broadcasting class after graduating from there in 1983.
On April 11, 1987, Harder joined Maureen Hathaway in the studio to play music by women artists.
They started "A Women's Circle," a radio show that Harder has put together for 20 years. She'll celebrate the anniversary with a concert by singer-songwriter Holly Near at Goshen College's Umble Center Wednesday night.
The show was successful and had support from local listeners, Harder said. She continued to produce and host the show after Hathaway moved away.
But in 1990, when WVPE joined National Public Radio, the station canceled the show.
"I was just devastated," Harder said.
As she mourned, her back went out of place, indicating to her how much she really missed the show.
A year later, WGCS asked Harder to air her show there and she got her spot at 6 p.m. Sundays. When WGCS became The Globe and focused on Americana music, Harder kept doing her show.
"I felt like it gave me a voice too, even though I don't express my opinions directly," she said. "The songs themselves discuss certain situations and call for response on issues, or action."
The show often addresses social or political issues. Sometimes Harder produces shows around a theme. She'll gather songs that decry homophobia or war. Other weeks she'll feature a particular artist, such as Sweet Honey In the Rock or Ani DiFranco.
Harder doesn't limit herself when it comes to music.
"I'll play any type of music," she said.
But her show includes folk, new age, blues, rock and jazz, though it most often features folk musicians and singer-songwriters who fall under the Americana genre.
Jason Samuel, station manager of The Globe, estimated that Harder has produced more than 1,000 shows and called her contribution "invaluable."
"I consider it a privilege to have her sharing of female artists, new and old, known and unknown, with our listening audience," he said in a press release.
Women musicians get more airplay than they used to, but Harder said she wants to keep doing the show, keep airing music that she loves.
"There's a lot of music that's not aired that's good. I want to give exposure to women musicians who have something to say, whether it's politically or socially," she said.
Contact Marshall V. King at firstname.lastname@example.org.