Thursday, October 29, 2009

Media: Not Enough Female Hosts?

TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the clear themes in early comments about the new CBC News Network on cable television was that people were surprised that all of the mid-day hosts were women, with Heather Hiscox, Anne-Marie Mediwake, Suhana Merharchand, and Carole MacNeil back-to-back. Relatively few people complained, but just about everyone noticed. The CBC in general has tended to be quite good at putting many women on the air--the flagship Radio One program As It Happens has had all female regular hosts since 1997, and the national morning news magazine, The Current, has been hosted by a woman, Anna Maria Tremonti, since its inception in 2002.

Unfortunately, the CBC is the exception in this regard. One of the few comments I've ever actually received about the Ideal Radio Schedule that I first posted in 1998 and have updated over the years is that outside of news shows, the only women on the schedule are talk show hosts Christine Craft and Lynn Samuels, both in weekend slots. Why? While an idealized schedule, my idea was to take the best of actual programs on the air (or previously on the air), and in the real world, the vast majority of programs are hosted by men.

Take KGO Newstalk 810 in San Francisco as an example, regarded by many (including me) as one of the best talk stations in the world. Its only female general talk show host is Pat Thurston, who appears overnights on the weekend. (Joanie Greggains also hosts a fitness show on Saturday mornings, and Craft frequently fills in, but that's it.) The entire rest of the schedule is all men.

The situation is worse elsewhere. WABC in New York? All men except for Monica Crowley's show on Saturday. WLS in Chicago? No solo female hosts. KFI in Los Angeles? All men. (Bryan Suits no longer has Kennedy as a co-host.) KIRO in Seattle? All men. Even liberal network Air America has no female radio hosts on their network (they do air Rachel Maddow's MSNBC television show). Is it any wonder that my ideal schedule has so many men on it?

Anyone that says that there is no gender discrimination in the media in the twenty-first century just has to spin the radio dial a bit to get ample counter-evidence. Outside of the CBC, it's still a man's world, and I just don't see how that could possibly be a good thing.

At this point, the next time I update my ideal schedule I plan to add only two personalities, Martina Fitzgerald and Connie Sinclair (yes, from the broadcasting family). Both are news reporters from the CBC. See a pattern here?


Jen N. said...

Regarding this line -

"Even liberal network Air America has no female radio hosts on their network (they do air Rachel Maddow's MSNBC television show)."

Just wanted to let you know that I work at Air America and we do have a few female hosts. Sure, we could have more, but in case you're wondering: Nicole Sandler, Ana Marie Cox, and Rachel Maddow are our current female hosts. Additionally, Rhandi Rhodes still airs on our 1050 AM station in DC. We are committed to finding more excellent female hosts in the future.

Wilson said...


I wouldn't even have noticed that CBC NW rebranded, or The National changed. I only have time for a quickie with Lloyd and he's much more dependable than Peter who disappears come hockey time.