Carnegie Mellon University

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April 01, 2011

Frankly Speaking

Students, Mothers Share Social Perspectives on WRCT Talk Show

By Bruce Gerson

Students can now get motherly advice every Tuesday night without even calling home.

“What Would Your Mother Say?” a candid talk show in its first season on WRCT 88.3 FM, Carnegie Mellon’s student radio station, brings students together with a mother  — unrelated to them — to discuss everything from dating, relationships and marriage, to social networking, academic stress, money and roommate etiquette.

“The show is a sounding board for students,” said host Susan Morris, wife of Professor Jim Morris, former dean of the School of Computer Science and head of CMU’s Silicon Valley campus. “I want students to share their experiences and mothers to bring their perspective.”

Cleah Schlueter, an administrative associate and project coordinator in the School of Computer Science, and a mother of two, has been a guest on the show. She said while the show’s topics can be a little embarrassing at times, it’s good for students to be able to discuss with a mother figure topics that they might feel uncomfortable discussing with their own mothers.

“It gives them a forum to express themselves without feeling inhibited,” Schlueter said.

Amy Mija Catalina Quispe, a sophomore studying computer science and mathematical sciences who has been a guest on the show, said she likes having a mother on the panel because it allows her “to really question campus life and the changing face of the world,” and “sometimes the mom will say something that I know my own mother would disagree with, and that’s something to talk about.”

Sophomore physics major Dan Kirby also likes hearing mothers’ viewpoints. He said he enjoys learning how much some things have changed, such as how technology has impacted social interaction.

“It also keeps in perspective how much hasn’t changed, and how much of what we feel like is new and different was really just never talked about openly before,” Kirby said.

Each show begins with an expert guest who calls in and introduces a topic and initiates the conversation. Guests have included Amir Levine, co-author of “Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment,” Peter Kramer, author of “Listening to Prozac: The Landmark Book About Antidepressants and the Remaking of the Self,” and blogger Susan Walsh of

After the expert segment, Morris engages the studio panel — three students and one mother in a discussion.  In the final portion of the hour they take emails and phone calls from listeners.

“You forget you’re on the radio. You create an environment of trust,” Morris said.

Morris, a veteran radio personality who hosted and produced “Stock Talk” on KQV-Radio in Pittsburgh from 1998-2004 and “What Would Your Mother Say?” at Stanford University from 2005-2010, selects her guests through research, and finds mothers from ads on Craigslist and students through campus connections.

“It’s a great show because it’s honest,” Quispe said. “The direction the conversation goes completely relies on the differences between all our perceptions. There are times that my perception of campus life is completely different than the other students, and often a mother figure’s is different too.”

“Students should listen because it’s entertaining and we give them good advice at how to deal with problems they might face,” Kirby said.

The show seems to be gaining listeners.

“Just last week, I had three people text me right after the show telling me that they had learned something,” Quisbe said. “A lot of people are really happy when I tell them that they can stream it online. I have friends in Seattle, D.C., and Philly that listen in. That’s pretty cool.”

What Would Your Mother Say?
9 – 10 p.m., Tuesdays on WRCT 88.3 FM
Call-in number: 412-621-9728
Email address:
Listen online at