I'm Spiritual, Dammit

Hey Chicago radio bosses- what do you have against women?

I am a lifelong Chicago broadcaster who tries to be supportive of the local media.  But lately- the demise of talk radio in this town has me wondering one thing:  What do the men who run these stations have against vaginas?

Last I checked- women make up more than half of the population in Chicago.  More than half.  Think about that for a second.  Just from that statistic alone, you'd think there would be some female hosts on the talk radio dial.  There is not one female who hosts a talk radio show on the highest rated stations in Chicago.  Sure you have Roma who is teamed up with Don on WLS or Kathy who is alongside Eric with The Mix.  In overnights there is Johnnie who sits with Steve at WGN.  Nobody has a female hosting solo.  You let them do the traffic.  You let them do the news.  But why are we not allowed to host a show by ourselves?  Are you afraid we'll tell all of your dirty little secrets?

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I used to be on Chicago radio.  I remember walking into WLS and talking to the program director Mike Elder back in 2001 and saying- "My friends and I are all women in our thirties, and we have nothing to listen to.  There is not one show that represents our voice."  He looked at me and said, "Let's fix that."  I was lucky to co-host a show with Mary Long at WLS on the weekends for 2 years before we moved over to WGN radio.

But then- new bosses came and went- and things got moved around.  I came back from maternity leave and was told, "no thanks- we have all the shifts covered."  I got busy with  my books and my play, and moved on to other things.  But every time I drive around town, I still wonder if other women get frustrated that we have nobody we can relate to in talk radio.

What happened to the saying "women and children first"?  Obviously that doesn't apply to media in Chicago.  We are the third biggest market in this country- and even towns like Minneapolis have female talk radio hosts.  But not Chi-town.

I speak to groups all over the Chicago area- and women always come up to me and ask why Chicago talk radio has become so filled with angry white men over 50.  
 
Well- if you don't like it ladies- I suggest you make some noise.  The only way things will change is by letting the powers that be know you're "mad as hell..and you're not gonna take it anymore".  And I'm not talking about standing outside WGN radio with a homemade sign that says "Bring back Kathy and Judy.." because personally, my friends and I couldn't relate to them at all.  Talking about figurines to a couple of women in their mid 60's is not my idea of good radio.  But they could have at least replaced the "girlfriends" with two younger, hipper women, right?  RIGHT?!  

There is a station in this town that was originally called the "Voice of the Negro"- WVON.  It was eventually changed to the "Voice of the Nation"  for obvious reasons.  They have no white hosts, but they do have a female African American host named Santita Jackson who does a show from 9-12 every day.  Why can't we have a station for the "Voice of the Woman" or WVOW?  All women- all day long.  No matter what race- or age.  I'd tune in.  I think millions of others would too.  Anybody have lots of money out there who wants to buy a radio station and start something groundbreaking?  (Ted Turner retired, right?  You wanna get back in the game Teddy?  Come on- it'll be fun!)   

So back to the stations where the only hosts are old white men- I don't care WHO you hire, but make sure it's a she with tits and a va-jay-jay or you will lose even more listeners at a startling rate.  Think about how unusual it would be if someone actually hired a female duo for morning drive?  It'd be a ratings buster for sure.  Women are thirsty for content that makes a difference- and not monologues about Tiger Wood's mistresses or fart jokes.     

So what do we do?  We have to hit them where it hurts.  No- not in their groins.  In their pocketbooks.  I'm talking about no advertising until these companies bring on some women.  I am talking about not listening- and telling all your friends not to listen until they make changes.  We need to be writing letters- and starting facebook groups in favor of getting an educated, spiritual female voice on the talk radio dial PRONTO.  The squeaky wheel gets the oil- and we have to start somewhere.

So if this topic is something you are passionate about- pass on this post.  Tell friends to pass it on- and let's see how many comments we can get at the bottom of this article.  Our opinions do matter.  And we will make a difference.  One voice at a time.    

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10 Comments

operalicia said:

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AMEN! So sick of the "male perspective", which is so narrow it doesn't even cover the perspective of most of the men I know. Let's get some real discussions going, and not the narrow "women's perspective" you get on "the View"!

Chicago Vince said:

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To be fair, ESPN1000 just hired Sarah Spain. I beleive she is the first woman to work at either of the two Sports Radio Station in this town since Julie Swieca resigned over a dispute with her bosses over "editorial control" of her show in 2004.

Jen Weigel said:

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Hey Vince-
So now a sports station- which has far fewer female fans- embraces a female host- but the regular talk stations still have not? Now I'm even MORE depressed!!!

Imanisworld said:

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When I read Vince's comment I was thinking exactly the same thing.

Alex Quigley said:

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Kerry Sayers and Jen Patterson would probably disagree.

Imanisworld said:

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I do agree with you Jen. I am a native Chicagoan, female, and radio broadcaster although I've never done talk radio. But have often thought about starting an all female talk station. My mentor, the late Yvonne Daniels, was part of an all female on-air staff at the then (1960's) WSDM radio. Who would have thought that in 2010 almost 50 years later women would still be underrepresented in radio and especially talk radio.

Jen Weigel said:

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So there was a station where we had an all female staff in the 60's- that is amazing. What is wrong with this picture? Women are always the last to be considered.. Why isn't there more outrage?

nili said:

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You are SO RIGHT!!! There are some amazing women who should be hosting shows and we need some women perspective on the airwaves. Crazy in the 21st century.

djjradio said:

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I don't entirely agree with your blog & would like to discuss this with you on my talk radio show...oh wait, I don't have one. LOL. I guess you ARE correct, Sister! Meanwhile, You can find me doing news, traffic or selling stuff on the radio shopping show.

Jen Weigel said:

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Did you all see Mary Schmich's article today in the Trib on this very topic?? I'm about to write about it now!

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