This week I sent a Facebook salute to the ‘original’ cast of talents that started the life of Q107 fm Toronto on May 22nd, 1977. I received many great positive responses to my ‘Q’ salute but also a number of comments from both women and men who mentioned that they had a beef with how they were treated by management.
In 1977 Jane Hawtin and Maryann Carpentier were the only two women we hired to do key on-air positions. Debra Edwards joined us after the launch as an on-air news announcer. But the reality was that there were too few female talents on air in those days, and this was a direct result of a male-dominated radio industry.
In those days, we hired on the talents ability to deliver a certain on-air style. Most of the original Q107 members were very experienced and previously successful on other radio stations. John Donabie, Mark Daley, John Rode, Maryann Carpentier and Ted Woloshyn all had major market radio experience. We needed that to give the new Q107 a fighting chance against the mighty CHUM FM and always good CFNY fm.
In the early '80s, while working for Moffat Communications, Jim McLaughlin made it his company’s mission to deal with the issue of gender bias. I remember sitting on panels with industry notables like Roy Hennessy and David Bray to talk about fixing some of those horrific gender bias problems and dealing directly with gender discrimination in the workplace.
We were somewhat successful, but not completely.
We found Sharon Taylor in London, ON, who went on to be a terrific Program Director and Consultant for Byrnes Media. Many more should have followed. I had many battles over this issue with General Managers and PDs. I spoke to many aspiring new radio talents at Humber, Ryerson and Seneca about opportunities in radio. The woman I spoke to at the time didn’t believe they had a chance in the radio industry. Most ended up taking behind the scene positions as a result of rejections during their workweek experiences. As a result, I know we missed a whole generation of female talents due to discrimination.
There’s a risk of speaking the truth about gender bias. I recently saw Jennifer Valentyne’s video on Facebook, where she calmly discusses her nightmare at a major media company. It was heartfelt and brought back those feeling about gender bias all over again. Let me also say that all cases of this nature must be fully investigated.
This is 2022. You would think by now we would’ve learned from this awful discriminatory policy. Gender bias IS A CRIME. Radio is poorer for having fostered it over altogether too many years.
Gender balance– can it ever be achieved.
And without it, how can we seriously hope to capture mass radio audiences?
Let me say to all of the women who have invested in their radio careers, be it in news, on air, creative, production, new media, marketing or sales, that you have my complete support.
My wife, Rita Cugini, a well-known former CRTC Commissioner of seven years, and I have discussed this issue many times. She knows, as do I do that this heinous practise has to stop.
I’m not going to name companies. You know who you are.
I must compliment Corus Radio for bringing Tammy Cole to program Q107, Energy fm and 102.1 The EDGE. I heard the grumblings in the halls when the announcement was made. Tammy’s talent, smarts and confidence won the day. She’s done a fantastic job in her programming role at Corus over the past six years. And a shout out to Julie Adam, head of Rogers Radio. Thanks to Chuck McCoy, who recognized Julie’s talents and skills and made sure that she could ascend to the position she now has at Rogers Radio.
Gary Slaight was long a champion when he was a broadcaster, notably in creating opportunities for the likes of Carla Collins, Maureen Holloway and Jane Hawtin.
Other major broadcast companies need to take note. The old boys club does exist in radio and in many other industries. How awful to think that the BEST, MOST QUALIFIED person didn’t get the position because she is a woman. Spare me your excuses and lame rationale. It no longer cuts it with me. Many great women have left the radio business never to return because some of you miscreant Neanderthals in management positions have behaved very badly. The shame is on you! I know of many great male talents who are so insecure about their position. There’s no need to feel that way. Your hostility toward women in your work circle has weakened the radio business. We need to have gender balance, especially on the morning shows.
I look up to women like the late Rosalie Trombley, Julie Adam, Tammy Cole and the very present Liz Janik as shining examples of great talents who have done so many good things in our industry. Let’s be sure that we keep this in mind in our future hiring practices.
The best person deserves to get the job. Get rid of gender bias and GET SMART. It’s good for our business!