memories of the ’80s – Dr. Ruth

At the beginning of the 1980s, radio listeners were mesmerized by a woman who wanted to talk about health, psychology and sex; Dr. Ruth Westheimer.

Struggling radio station WYNY FM in New York City decided to take a risk, with hiring Dr. Ruth Westheimer to do a 15 minute late night show on Sundays, which was named Sexually Speaking.

Guests could send in their questions, and the tag line “I have a letter from a listener who asks…” became the the key for Dr. Ruth. Her wit, knowledge and humour made the difference and the show was expanded to an hour and went live.

Within a year, Dr. Ruth Westheimer was more popular than many morning drive shows, and guests asked everything and anything in their questions, which often ended with Dr. Ruth’s popular comment – Get some!

And this wasn’t someone who was fly by night – Dr. Westheimer has a masters in sociology from The New School, an education degree from Columbia University Teachers College and a PhD in human sexuality at New York Presbyterian Hospital with Helen Singer Kaplan, a pioneer in sex therapy.

As her popularity spread across the US, Dr. Ruth also started appearing on television, thanks to Late Night with David Letterman, who had her appear several times.

Lifetime TV soon hired Dr. Ruth for a series also called Sexually Speaking, a 15 minute series that started airing in 1982, and Westheimer worked on her first book, Dr. Ruth’s Encyclopedia of Sex and also created a board game, Dr. Ruth’s Game of Good Sex.

For this decade and the future, this tiny lady made it ok to ask about sex and learn not only the mechanics but also the emotions.

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About Waheeda Harris

A pop culture junkie with a penchant for exploring our planet.
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