Talk Radio: Double Standard Fare

Talk radio is proving itself to be the men's club of the media. The New York-based media watch group, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), reported in the April 1991 edition of its media journal Extra! that of the 900-member National Association of Radio Talk Show hosts, only 50 are women.

Most of these women offer motherly advice rather than discuss current events. The fortunate women who do host politically oriented shows are becoming an endangered species as station management across the country continues to fire them for "unladylike" behavior.

Liberal talk show host Lynn Samuels was fired in January 1990 from her highly rated show on WABC-NY for calling her conservative co-host, Barry Farber, a fascist on the air. Samuels, who also hosts a show on the progressive radio station WBAI-NY, was re-hired by WABC in June 1991.

In a recent interview with Sojourners, however, Samuels said that it is difficult for a woman to have her own show on mainstream radio. She feels that unlike a male host, a female host has to watch what she says on the air if she wants to keep her job. When she was fired, Samuels told The New York Daily News that nothing would have happened if a man had called Barry Farber a fascist. FAIR's study supports this claim, as noted in the April 1991 Extra!: "WABC's Bob Grant regularly uses racist, anti-woman, and anti-gay language without sanction. [Rush] Limbaugh typically refers to opponents as 'femi-nazis' and 'commie-libs.'"

TALK SHOW HOST KAREN Grace was fired in June 1990 from WNIS-AM in Virginia for what station management said were "listener objections." But Grace was not the only host to cause a commotion. The Virginian-Pilot noted that "Right-winger Rush Limbaugh, whose syndicated show precedes Grace's, generates equal heat." His program was not taken off the air.

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Sojourners Magazine February-March 1992
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