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Puget Sound Radio    ON THE AIR    Street Talk/Shop Talk/let's Talk  ›  Have Women in Radio Lost Ground in Recent Years?

Have Women in Radio Lost Ground in Recent Years?  This thread currently has 1,855 views. Print
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mikedup
March 18, 2010, 7:48pm Report to Moderator

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Chicago radio still tunes out women in morning-drive
  
by Robert Feder
Chicago Radio writer
blogs.Vocalo.org

March 18

When Amy Jacobson signs on Wednesday as Big John Howell’s partner at Salem Communications news/talk WIND-AM (560), she’ll be joining one of Chicago’s most exclusive clubs: Women in morning-drive radio. And though her hiring addresses a glaring gender deficiency on the air at WIND, it’s hardly cause for celebration.

That’s because women remain pitifully underrepresented among all top on-air jobs in radio. By my measure, they’ve actually lost ground in the past 25 years.

In a Sunday piece I wrote for the Sun-Times in 1985, I lamented the fact that “the sorority of female morning-drive personalities remains discouragingly small.” At the time they were represented only by Terri Hemmert of WXRT-FM (93.1), Felicia Middlebrooks of WBBM-AM (780), Carolyn Van of the former WJJD, and the late Yvonne Daniels of the former WGCI-AM. (Hemmert, the first female morning-drive personality in Chicago, moved to middays in 1992 and still holds forth at the adult rock station.)

Now, a quarter-century later, the number of women who get top billing in morning-drive (not counting syndicated, brokered or noncommercial shows) is down to just two: WBBM’s Middlebrooks, who’s anchored the all-news format’s morning shift for 26 years with John Hultman, Pat Cassidy and Ken Herrera; and Lisa Dent, who has hosted mornings with Ramblin’ Ray Stevens at country WUSN-FM (99.5) since 2006.

The record for female co-hosts and sidekicks isn’t much better. Twenty-five years ago, I spotlighted six of them — Catherine Johns of WLS-AM (890), Karen Hand of WBBM-FM (96.3), Beth Kaye of WKQX-FM (101.1), Chris Torres of WLUP-FM (97.9), Val Stouffer of the former WCLR, and Brooke Belson of the former WFYR. Of Johns, his spunky second banana at the time, WLS “Superjock” Larry Lujack observed:

“Catherine offers a very valuable balance. She’s the only one of us [Lujack, Johns, Jeff Hendrix and Les Grobstein] who’s close to being normal, and when we go overboard, she says the things our female listeners would like to say if they could get at us. At times, she’s even tried to reach over and strangle me in mid-sentence.”

It was a pretty accurate description of the role most of the female co-stars played on the air then. Today, however, Johns is out of radio and in business with Hand, who was the voice of sanity for years at B96, most notably with Eddie Volkman and Joe Bohannon. Johns and Hand are now partners in Chicago Hypnosis Center.

But more to the point, there’s still only a handful of high-profile co-hosts and sidekicks in morning-drive, including Roma Wade, half of Don Wade & Roma at WLS; Kathy Hart of Eric & Kathy at WTMX-FM (101.9); Mary Dixon with Lin Brehmer at WXRT; Mel T and Angi Taylor with Drex at WKSC-FM (103.5); Nina Chantelle with Tony Sculfield at WGCI-FM (107.5), and Perri Small with Matt McGill at WVON-AM (1690). Others I should mention? I welcome your comments below.

Virtually every one of the women I profiled in 1985 got their start on overnight or weekend shifts at smaller radio stations. Since then, consolidation, syndication and voice-tracking have eliminated hundreds of on-air jobs at local stations, resulting in even fewer opportunities for women to break into the business.

Twenty-five years from now? I shudder to think.
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david61
March 19, 2010, 2:19am Report to Moderator
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Its been several years since Victoria has had a "good" female radio reporter.....The 2-3 good ones they had that all happened to work at the same radio station, used it as a stepping stone to greater things, i.e. TV, public relations, UVIC honour student.....Now with budget cutbacks etc, they seem to get them right out of BCIT, and they come across as young, inexperienced, monotoned,  bored, mispronouncing local streets, etc etc..... From a station that was once Victoria News Authority, and is now a highly criticized local station, they have fallen a long way.....There is a top morning husband and wife team here, that is very fluid and professional in their delivery and banter....I might be wrong but I think that there is only the one station in Victoria that uses female reporters... ....and the ones that dont, know better..
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bobinedmonton
March 19, 2010, 5:09pm Report to Moderator

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Why is this still an issue?   Canadian broadcasting has had women in media for years.   I would suspect men have lost more ground than women due to cost cutting, automation, and juke box formats.   The CBC's affirmative action programs have seen men almost completely purged from some programming.   Nobody seems to care about them, why do supposedly "equal" women have people agonizing over their fate?  Equality means taking the bad with the good.   Smarten up or get into another business, as men have had to do.


Those who are unaware are unaware that they are unaware.   :'(
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duvaroo
March 19, 2010, 7:27pm Report to Moderator
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In Victoria CBC's only reporter is female, CFAX has multiple female reporters, and CKKQ also has a female reporter
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observer90
March 20, 2010, 3:11am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from bobinedmonton
Why is this still an issue?   Canadian broadcasting has had women in media for years.   I would suspect men have lost more ground than women due to cost cutting, automation, and juke box formats.   The CBC's affirmative action programs have seen men almost completely purged from some programming.   Nobody seems to care about them, why do supposedly "equal" women have people agonizing over their fate?  Equality means taking the bad with the good.   Smarten up or get into another business, as men have had to do.


Wow. bobinedmonton, you are frightening in your antiquated attitude. Why should women have to step aside because the (male-dominated) industry they chose to excel in has not moved forward? Speaking as a woman in the industry, we don't want to be treated differently at all.In fact, I won't take a job or a gig of any sort simply because I'm female - I want to get that job because I'm the best PERSON for it. And that's true equality, is it not?

It is very true that women have lost ground in the radio industry - one only has to look at the facts to recognize that. The female broadcasters in morning slots, whether considered hosts, co-hosts or 'side-kicks' (and yes there is a difference - just ask us), are very often saddled with ratings shortcomings ... must be the girl's fault after all. Case in point? Most recently, Terry DiMonte's co-host ling-time broadcaster Patti losing her gig. Why? Because ratings weren't as expected management thinks it's easiest to "blame the girl"?? Terry himself is on record saying he feels uncomfortable with the scenario. Second case in point .. BJ Wilson, long-time Newcap morning host. I'm not sure I can even count how many female 'co-hosts' lost their gigs because of ratings failures in Edmonton. The Newcap stations (Edmonton) he was with didn't even come close to winning a morning duel over the course of 9 or 10 years ... however it was his female co-hosts who lost their jobs. Even though the common denominator was??? BTW, BJ now doing very well in Calgary with a fabulous male (Hal Gardiner!) to share the morning show.

So, before you get terribly angry and frustrated yet again, women in radio have the right to express this frustration. I have been a major market morning personality for a number of years, and have literally cringed many times at the comments made to me by PDs ... totally inappropriate phrases that I'm sure other female broadcasters have heard. Not to mention the things that my male on-air co-workers have said. And yet, I haven't said a thing in defence, because that might have indicated weakness or an un-willingness to compete in this male-dominated industry.

So drop the attitude. It's not easy. Just as I concede, it's not been easy for males in the biz. It's just not easy period. Not because we're either male or female - just because it's not easy.
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hoof hearted
March 20, 2010, 4:03am Report to Moderator
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Some fodder for further discussion:

Thought #1:  I think part of the problem here is that many female morning co-host come across as being nothing more than a laugh track to the male co-host, rather than a strong, equal prescence.  Strive to change that stereotype ladies!

Thought #2:  While the typical listener is accepting of the dual-male show and the male-female show, how many would be willing to tune in a dual-female morning show on a daily basis?  

Thought #3:  Getting back to the original gist of this thread...I don't think women have lost ground in radio.  The last station I worked for before leaving the industry for a better paying line of work had about a 3 to 1 ratio of women to men.  The few people I'm still in touch with indicate that ratio hasn't changed much.  
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observer90
March 20, 2010, 4:51am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from 931
Some fodder for further discussion:

Thought #1:  I think part of the problem here is that many female morning co-host come across as being nothing more than a laugh track to the male co-host, rather than a strong, equal prescence.  Strive to change that stereotype ladies!

Thought #2:  While the typical listener is accepting of the dual-male show and the male-female show, how many would be willing to tune in a dual-female morning show on a daily basis?  

Thought #3:  Getting back to the original gist of this thread...I don't think women have lost ground in radio.  The last station I worked for before leaving the industry for a better paying line of work had about a 3 to 1 ratio of women to men.  The few people I'm still in touch with indicate that ratio hasn't changed much.  



Hoof hearted - I totally agree with some of your comments. However, the "laugh track" issue is difficult. Many women in morning radio are directed by their PDs to react in a certain way. This is a reality. And it is the mechanism by which many women have kept their jobs. In short, some of us have been told to be a 'laugh track'. And again, trying to make it in a traditionally male genre, we've sucked it up.

And yes, women have lost ground. If you hear more female voices on the air, it only means that women have been willing to take the lesser-paying positions (ie mid-days or evenings) in order to prove their worth. Are they making more money than men?  Wow, that's funny. Not in the least. I think that because we've been so eager to prove ourselves and break in, we've short-changed ourselves. And not only that, the stereotype exists that women don't need "to bring in the bacon", so managements deem that our salaries are lower. Start comparing female to male salaries before you let loose ... it took me about 8 years of hosting a morning show in a major market with a male (and during those years it was statistically  proven I was the primary personality) in order to gain pay parity. 8 yrs. And I know others just like me. Well, that's just freaking sad.

Again, women just want to be equals. Not hired or fired for being women. Just judged on their merit as broadcasters - male or female. And placed as their talent and work ethic dictates.
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Da Mai
March 21, 2010, 10:02am Report to Moderator
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I don't know observer90, you sound a little bitter to me. I have lost news jobs to women and been told outright that I was the better reporter but the girl in question was very attractive and fit the look of the TV news team... not that I am ugly or anything.. but them's the brakes. Try getting a CBC job as a white male. It can be done but it ain't easy. I think bobinedmonton makes a good point, there is equality but sometimes it helps you and sometimes it hurts you.

There are not many female morning show hosts for the same reason there are not many really top shelf female comics. I am sorry but most women are just not funny enough or engaging enough to appeal to several demographics or a broad spectrum. Of course there are exceptions but on the whole, I am sorry but many women just don't have the on air presence as more of the guys do. I have had plenty of female colleagues make more than me when I was junior and I had to work my way up to larger salaries. I have found its the position that gets paid, not the person. This isn't meant to be insulting but I think you are wrong in your argument. I know you said that it took 8 years to gain parity, but maybe they didn't think you were worth more? That isn't a nice thought but if they were low balling you then maybe they were not too pushed to lose you. Maybe it was not a gender issue but a personal one? Again, I am not meaning to insult just throwing that out there.
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airadio
March 22, 2010, 2:39am Report to Moderator
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Several questions are here begged.  
So, I'll ask a few.
The suits that run radio live by the numbers, so are women getting lower numbers on morning shows, or is it just too hard to separate the "share" on male/female morning gigs, so the traditional judgments, right or wrong, apply?  
If so, is this a gender thing - meaning, what, for example, is the ratio of male/female PD's and other hiring authorities?  (I suspect there are more male PD's than female, but I don't know.)  
Does the female disadvantage exist even in stations that aim specifically for the female demographic of any age?  
Are women (who may in some cases have more important things to do at 4am, especially if they have a family) applying in fewer numbers for these gold plated am gigs?  
Are women (who, in many cases, are way more practical than males) simply looking elsewhere for career options, given the steady dilution of radio opportunities and expectations?  
What about the academic demographics?  I suspect there are more male wannabe's in the broadcasting schools than female (but this is a guess... too many years have passed since I had anything to do with broadcasting schools.  
Personally, my favourite jocks in this city (Vancouver) have tended to be women, though admittedly, they have also tended to be in the mid-morning slots.  Does the day-part perhaps have anything to do with all this?  (I'm not very informed about stuff like this, so I'm just asking.)  
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hoof hearted
March 22, 2010, 3:58am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from observer90
Hoof hearted - I totally agree with some of your comments. However, the "laugh track" issue is difficult. Many women in morning radio are directed by their PDs to react in a certain way. This is a reality. And it is the mechanism by which many women have kept their jobs. In short, some of us have been told to be a 'laugh track'. And again, trying to make it in a traditionally male genre, we've sucked it up.


That's so demeaning to female jocks who desire to shine or be seen as an equal.  Shame on any PDs or 'suits who buy into this mindset.

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