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Podcasters spotlight women over 70


Women Over 70
(Image courtesy of "Women Over 70")
​​​​If necessity is the mother of invention, re-invention has a lot of maternal guidance, too.

The theme of reinvention pops up regularly in the new podcast “Women Over 70" hosted, not surprisingly, by two women over 70.

Getting started

As she was turning 70, entrepreneur and DePaul alumna Gail Zelitzky wanted to interview “70 women over 70." Zelitzky mentioned the interview plan to her friend and grad-school mentor, Catherine Marienau, over dinner. With her own life-long personal and professional passion for women's issues, the soon to be retired DePaul professor immediately said, “I'm in, if you want me."

In June 2019, Zelitzky, 77, the Chicago businesswoman, and Marienau, 70, the college professor, launched a podcast called, “Women Over 70:  Aging Reimagined." Though they had no previous audio production experience, Zelitzky and Marienau were determined to do it right. Attending an immersive two-day workshop and six weeks of online instruction gave them the basics and production support for their first 10 episodes.

When that ended, they knew they needed someone with the right technical skills to keep the quality high. Marienau turned to Kristine Kruse, a colleague from DePaul. An independent website designer, Kruse was finishing a master's in College of Computing and Digital Media. She calls herself the podcast's “first listener" and treasures the opportunity to hear inspiring women's stories as she edits each episode. Kruse also designed the logo and set up the website, Facebook page and group, and other social media outlets.

Rolling & Recording

Recruiting guests for the podcast was one of the easiest tasks as they ramped up. Initially, the podcasters turned to their own extensive networks: academics, business owners, social activists, authors, health providers and artists. Soon listeners and friends made referrals, too. Guests have ranged from CEOs to career coaches, gerontologists to golf pros, holistic doctors to healers. Volunteers, teachers, scientists, therapists, poets and so many more women have much to share in the 30-minute Q&A format. Guests' stories speak of spiritual awakenings, new business endeavors, artistic pursuits, second (or third) careers, travel, and volunteering. And they don't gloss over the realities of disease management, caregiving, or personal loss. There are many “a-ha!" moments peppered throughout these conversations.

The podcasters recognize the potential of expanding their offerings and audience.

“Podcasting is a business," Zelitzky says. “We are on a mission and we want to see this grow."

The brand-new playlists on their website categorize the interviews into eight themes, making the episodes easier to find and enabling listeners to follow their own areas of interest. The playlist categories include reinvention, play, spirituality and healing, social activism, health and wellness, expressive arts, and social services; and an eighth category, professional enhancement.

One year and more than five dozen episodes later, “Women Over 70" is growing into its own cottage industry of advocacy for active women who are leading inspiring lives as they age. The co-hosts introduced their Podcast Discussion Club in August. The subscriber-based Podcast Club joins their free monthly Zoom gatherings, monthly YouTube interviews of aging experts called “Advocates for Women Aging," plus the playlists of past episodes. Using a variety of social media platforms, these three women are producing podcast offshoots that enable their audiences to hear from and interact with them even more. 

​​Getting Real

Every 15 episodes, Marienau and Zelitzky take a break and pause to check in with each other. They call those podcasts “Let's Get Real." Lately getting real has meant talking about the impact the pandemic and quarantining have had on them and their loved ones.

The podcast has been life-changing, and each woman has her own take on the changes she has experienced. For Marienau, women's issues had always been “intellectual." But since turning 70, retiring from fulltime work and beginning the podcast, she realized, “Oh, this is real. This is me."  That realization made her want to be even more intentional and to focus on her “passion projects." 

“The impact of hosting the podcast has been huge," Zelitzky says. “The mere act of speaking with vital vibrant women in their 70s, 80s and 90s changes you. It takes you out of yourself and into a wider realm of what's happening across the country."

Kruse is most inspired by stories of “reinvention."

“I'm inspired by people who have been through something tough and just keep right on trucking," she says. “It reminds me of some of the women in my own life; those are the ones I draw the most inspiration from."

Looking ahead

When the COVID-19 crisis subsides, Marienau and Zelitzky see opportunities for retreats and other face-to-face gatherings of their community members who are exploring their own feelings and insights as they age. In the meantime, Zoom, YouTube and Facebook have helped women across the country find this unique podcast and become regular listeners. 

The "Women Over 70" podcast  is available on all the most popular apps. More information is available on the podcast's website.