Have you noticed a lot more women on morning
radio lately? I've heard some say when there's more than three
of anything, it's a trend. More and more women are showing up
in a time slot that was formerly reserved for men. As recently
as the early '80s, women were heard mainly on late-night and
overnight shifts. If they piped up at all during the day, they
were usually reading the news. My, how things have changed.
For the last three years I was part of a morning
team on KiFM hosted by the entertaining Susan DeVincent. Unfortunately
for me, the management decided the program was "perceived
as being too female-oriented." Now that doesn't mean that
there were too many women or that women weren't a good thing.
But for some unexplained reason, being perceived as "female-oriented"
was the downfall, according to the program director. I couldn't
make sense of it, since KiFM is one of only two radio stations
in San Diego County that features women in two prime-time slots:
DeVincent in the morning and Lynda Smith in afternoon-drive.
Go figure. KiFM isn't the only "female-oriented" station
Over at Rock 102, Shanon Leder recently moved
from midday back to her old morning-drive time slot. Her old
partner, Kevin Cranker, was let go. Rock 102 also has the hard-rocking
Peg Pollard as its afternoon-drive DJ. DJ Karen Harlow, better
known as Cha Cha Marconi, also made the jump to mornings at Jammin'
Z90. She's survived innumerable format and management changes
over the last nine years. For the last few months, she's hosted
the morning show with comedian Rene Sandoval. Jan Darwin handles
the news. Darn, almost had a trio of women. (Rene's a guy.) Evidence
of even more women in the morning can be found all over the FM
dial. Perky Pat Brown co-hosts KYXY's morning show with Sonny
West. B100 recently contributed to this roster by hiring the
husky-voiced Jools Brandt for its morning show. Jools can be
heard with temporary co-hosts Frank Anthony and Larry Himmel.
The remaining women on FM stations heard during morning-drive
are usually reading the news. You can hear the sonorous tones
of Shelly Dunn matching wits in the a.m. with Dave Rickards and
my hero, the hilarious Cookie "Chainsaw" Randolph on
Otherwise, female traffic reporters seem to
take up the slack in the morning and add some balance to the
all-male shows. Jeff & Jer frequently interact with the giggly
Laura Cain on Q106, while KJQY has Jim Doyle and Metro Traffic
Monica Zech. On KCLX, former newswoman Cindy Manbeck plays straight
person on my new favorite morning show: "Rumble and Thrower"
with the talented Mike Dale on the newsbeat. 91X goes against
the integrated grain with Berger, Prescott & Nailz and a
male traffic reporter. Russ T. Nailz defends the male bastion
by claiming "Miss Julia" is a regular part of the show.
Nice try, Russ. I still miss the days when Russ and Cynthia Heath-Kerrigan
cracked up together. Management dropped Cynthia from the program
last year when 91X switched from Airwatch to Metro Traffic. But
the drama between the traffic reporting firms is a story for
While digging in the San Diego radio archives
- memories of old DJs- I find that 91X is the only FM station
with a track record of hiring women on its morning shows. Before
"John and Mary" did the morning show. Shortly thereafter,
Russ T. Nailz co-hosted a show in the morning with Sue Delaney,
who is now lying on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, contemplating
three job offers. Pam Wolfe and Katie Manor, who entertained
listeners with their knowledge of music, took over morning duty
through the '80s.
Larry Himmel co-hosted a morning show with Laurel Lee on B100
in the early '80s before the Rich Brothers ruled. Remember when
Ashley Gardner started at 13-K (KGB-AM, which is now KPOP) in
the early '80s? But, alas, she had a day gig. I was impressed,
however, because it was rare to find women anywhere on the AM
band at the time.
KFMB-AM made a lot of personnel changes recently.
One of the biggest was the hiring of Ms. Rollye James for the
evening talk show vacated by Bill Ballance. There never has been
a full-time female talk-show host in the coveted morning slot.
The only women who came close are Geni Cavitt at KFMB 760 AM
in the midday slot and Danuta, who worked afternoon-drive at
KSDO AM about three years ago.
Why is broadcast management so guarded about
its morning shows? One reason is the bottom line. As the bulk
of listeners tune in while driving to work each morning, the
station sells the most expensive commercials at that time. It's
realistic to expect radio stations to act just like other businesses,
which try to maximize profit while rendering the best service
possible. But listeners should know that some overpaid consultants
and researchers have been telling programmers that people don't
like listening to women on the radio. I say that's a lie. My
own personal survey, albeit unscientific, indicates both men
and women enjoy hearing female voices in the morning, as well
as during other time slots. Listeners called us to say they don't
like hearing bimbos.
As a public service, I'm offering a few clues
for program directors who are considering air talent choices
in the future. Kelly Cole is languishing on overnights at KiFM;
Coe Lewis and Denise Westwood are much too talented to be stuck
on weekends - even though it is at KGB; and veteran Diana Vincent
is using her considerable skills on a mere weekend shift at KCLX.
While it's great to work anywhere in radio,
if that's one's chosen profession, I know how frustrating it
is to be stuck on weekends and overnights when one has already
paid her dues and has enough talent for more suitable and better-paying
air shifts. Especially when one is equal to her male counterparts.
Women have fought long and hard for equal rights
and considerations in radio and elsewhere. I'm asking listeners
and programmers alike to judge women as individuals. The next
time you laugh during a morning radio show, ask yourself if the
gender of the jock delivering the line really matters. Entertainment
is the theme of most morning shows, and as long as the on-air
personality can deliver the goods, so be it.
Nina Reeba is a 13-year San Diego radio veteran.
She's worked as a traffic reporter for Airwatch,
a talk show producer for KSDO, a features/entertainment
on-air reporter for KiFM and as a DJ for KSDS.
The opinions expressed in this
those of the writer and not necessarily of
Radio San Diego Magazine.