These days, I've been thinking a lot about women in radio – especially those behind the mic. Our new AQ3 on talent generated powerful stories about how female personalities lost ground since the start of the pandemic.
I presented the study yesterday in a well-attended Zoom webinar. I'll have info at the end of this post about how you can download the entire slide deck. And I hope you do. There's a lot of amazing stories this year, including a look at those who lost their jobs during the past couple tumultuous years.
And some of the richest data revolves around women. Their numbers aren't growing, and they are considerably unhappier than their male counterparts. They don't believe they have much upward mobility, and the #MeToo movement seems to have faded.
That bring us to our timely #TBT blog post, a tribute to The Mary Tyler Moore Show written in early 2017. Miss Moore had recently passed away, and many media outlets celebrated the rise of her character Mary Richards, and the episodic progress she made in the WJM-TV newsroom.
At the time, I highlighted many of the female radio executives who were making their marks on our business. In scanning the list, a few have retired or moved on. But most have been replaced by other worthy women. Weezie Kramer left Entercom, and was replaced by Susan Larkin. Jody Evans exited PRPD, but Abby Goldstein took her post. And on those stories go.
So if it's possible for a TV sitcom character to be a role model, that may have been Mary Richards' contribution to many women on the rise in radio. Four years later, we're still celebrating them. – FJ
The passing of actress and producer Mary Tyler Moore last week ushered in a flood of memories to anyone who grew up in the ‘70s enjoying the many great sitcoms of that era. But beyond being funny, some actually delivered a message.
For All In The Family, it was Norman Lear’s ability to break down bigotry, racism, and stereotypes. With Good Times, it was a positive and funny depiction of African-American families. In MAS*H, it was sarcastic humor cleverly revealing the horrors of war.
And for The Mary Tyler Moore Show, it was a message to young women and girls they could be single and successful in a traditional workplace, all the while managing the male-dominated environment with skill, humor, and grace.
The Mary Richards character was effective, smart, and clever, deftly working with the quirky news team at WJM-TV in Minneapolis to produce a show each day. Mary was always capable and determined, often holding the group together.
And it’s significant that four decades later, the media world has become considerably more populated with women executives, often at the highest levels. That’s especially the case in radio.
Mary Berner (Cumulus), Caroline Beasley (Beasley), Ginny Morris (Hubbard), Mary Quass (NRG), Kim Guthrie (Cox), Cathy Hughes (Radio One), Beth Neuhoff (Neuhoff Communications), and others have all made their way to radio's corner offices – an all-time high representation of female leadership in the industry.
And there are the many women in senior management positions in both commercial and public radio, as well as other sectors, including Weezie Kramer (Entercom), Erica Farber (RAB), Jody Evans (PRPD), Julie Talbott (Premiere Networks), Kerri Hoffman (PRX), and leaders of state broadcasting associations like Karole White (MAB), Michelle Vetterkind (WBA), and others.
I have a feeling many spent their Saturday nights watching Mary Richards navigating that crazy newsroom, a job that paid less than a secretarial position. She was struggling to impact the media workplace back when many of these female execs were growing up, and now they're running the show.
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was at the leading edge of many major issues, such as gender roles, income inequality, pre-marital sex, and simply the way co-workers interacted with one another on the job. Over the past week, we’ve seen clips from the old shows, and the difference between then and now is stark, almost embarrassing. Today, the show's impact is on display at the top of many of the organizational charts of today's radio companies.
But aside from those who have attained leadership positions, you can feel the effect of women in the radio workplace in even the routine meetings that take place every day. Just as the casual banter between Mary, Murray, and even Ted, shifted the focus of many conversations in the WJM-TV newsroom, women in radio at all levels have brought an entirely different spirit and point of view to everything from music meetings to strategic sessions to sales meetings.
Last week, many had the chance to reminisce about that famous Mary Richards hat toss on Nicollet Mall that opened each show.
Hats off to the women in radio who are changing the industry.
They're going to make it after all.
To download our new AQ3 deck, click here.
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