My degree from the University of Tennessee is in broadcast news. My career in radio has always involved the news. Through my years on morning radio, more than one male manager has explained to me that women don’t really care about the news.
I was repeatedly told to shorten my newscasts so that entertainment stories would have more time. In radio, there is a real perception that women truly care more about the Kardashians than they do the president.
Let ME tell you what women want
When I began working at one of my former radio stations, I was called into a meeting with a program director who slid a piece of paper across the desk to me. It was a list of things that women were interested in. He proceeded to explain to me the topics that women want to hear about and since I was a DJ at a station geared towards women, I should know this list.
In this surreal moment, I was tempted to point out to this gentleman that I didn’t need his list since not only was I a woman, but I also DATED women and so I had a pretty good idea of what women wanted. But as a new employee, I simply listened to his casual presentation and smiled. I only wish I had kept that sheet of paper.
You don’t have enough experience to host your own show
I have been in Atlanta morning radio since 1995. But that statement was said to me a month ago. It was an organic conversation with a man who has been in the media business for 40 years.
I asked him exactly what he thought I needed to accomplish to be capable of heading up my own show. He didn’t have an answer. But the reality is that gender re-identification surgery would be the only step I could have missed.
I am not a negative person by nature. In fact, I am impatient with those who do nothing but complain about their situation. But there is only one way to change reality and that is to first recognize it.
Women are devalued in media. We point to Oprah and Ellen and use them to soothe our feelings. But the reality is that the great majority of decision makers in media and every industry are still men. Look at Congress if you want to see the reality of just how far women still have to go.
As I explained to my audience, to blaze a new trail, you have to know the obstacles in your path that need to be set on fire. And I am happy to strike the first match.
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter