Find Yourself A Good Man

This article was originally posted to AllAccess’ “Consultant Tips” series, written by Charese Fruge on March 16, 2021 

Last week we celebrated “International Women’s Day,” and all month long we honor “Women’s History Month.” It makes perfect sense that the challenges for Women in the radio industry are top of mind for all of us right now. Last week I sat on an amazing panel with some Female heavy hitters for the “Women in Radio” Conference. A lot of those challenges were discussed, and because it was a pretty young audience, the entire thing was a big hit because for the first time in history, there are actually a few Women in positions of power in the business now who were willing to share tricks of the trade.

Let’s face it, in the latest statistic from MIW’s Gender Analysis Report, the growth for Women in Management in Radio has slightly increased, but still needs more help. Particularly when it comes to Female Program Directors. Only 12% of radio stations across the country are programmed by Women, a statistic that has not changed in the last 14 years. And as large companies continue to consolidate, particularly starting with support positions which are predominately filled by Women, the statistics are only getting worse.

Truth be told, over the last 20 plus years of my radio career, there we NO female mentors or managers to help me tackle the every-day challenges (including the boys club) of the radio industry. After talking to 30-year vet Lisa Adams last week for “Women to Watch,” I discovered she felt the same way. It’s too bad we didn’t get to know each other sooner.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with new and seasoned Female talent this month about certain challenges they are facing like stereotypes, low pay, the boys club and “being overqualified.” The main complaint was there is no one to talk to about these circumstances. I even had a 26-year-old upset because she was told she was “Overqualified” for a new position. She’s like… ”I’ve been doing this for 4 years!” And Honestly, I can’t tell you the number of times in the last few years I was told I was “Overqualified” for a position and I am ALMOST twice her age. So, “No, I’m not over-qualified, I’m perfectly qualified to commit to a passion I know I am good at if the circumstances are right.” The Universe may align, no one else can determine what we are and aren’t committed to at a certain point in our lives. Regardless of your age or circumstances, that line is BS! And I am confident there is an underlying reason for it.

Throughout my long and exciting career, there were only a few men who were interested in the growth of my career and success, and not because I was a woman, but because I was a smart programmer and willing to learn: Scott Herman, Former CFO of CBS Radio, Jerry McKenna Former CBS Radio Las Vegas Market Manager and in the early days Greg Strassell, Now EVP of Programming for Hubbard Radio and Pat Paxton, Chief Programming Officer for Entercom. I learned a lot about the business side of radio from Scott and Jerry and Greg and Pat were great Programming influences when they had the time.

The reason I bring this up is because in addition to the over all theme that there are not enough female mentors out there, I was discussing a list of panelists for Producers for an upcoming event, and the best producers I have on file are both Male. They would bring to the table a wealth of knowledge and experience that would inspire anyone to want to do that job. The challenge was, that because the panel was geared toward Women, organizers wanted the candidates to be Female. Another big challenge since there aren’t a lot of female producers in radio right now.

This situation reminded me of a time when Don Anthony asked me to Host the “Women’s Panel” at Morning Show Bootcamp one year. I didn’t want it to be a “bitching” session, so I invited A-list panelists to participate on certain topics for the session. My goal has always been to groom more Female programmers and Talent, not discourage them. So, I asked Scott Herman to participate, and he graciously agreed to be the only man on the panel.

The reason I asked Scott was because regardless of his executive position with the company, he always made time for me. He was genuinely interested in the growth of my career and ALWAYS had a lesson for me to learn. I wanted him to speak to the room without thinking of it as a room full of Women and I wanted the room to understand that it is possible to be seen as smart and talented without being seen as a certain gender. Scott did a great job, and as always was the life of the panel.

Over the years, like Lisa Adams, it has become my purpose and goal to groom more female programmers (and A-List Talent). I often ask the question what can we be doing to encourage more women to take on the responsibilities of programming radio and what can we do to get them to be seen as equally talented and qualified if that is in fact the case? There are a “few” good men out there in the business willing to help talent regardless of their gender. We just have to find them. So, while we continue to try to grow the number of female mentors and leaders in the industry, don’t forget, if there’s a guy out there who sees your value despite your gender, don’t be afraid to bring him in to your circle and learn from him. Those interested in their own success, understand what YOUR success will do for them in the long run.