Women in radio - or lack of!

By Amanda Cox
Posted 9 June 2015, 8.16am edt

Why are there comparitively few female broadcasters? What is putting them off? Its strange that is still such a male bastion. I happen to think I am a pretty OK presenter, still got far to go, but still have the confidence I can pull it off. Do other women just lack confidence, do they lack skill or charisma, or are they too put off by other factors? It would be interesting to hear your views.


4 years, 6 months ago

There is a tendency among women to believe that they are less than worthy when it comes to artistic license within the social media market place and I say that because having spent the last thirty odd years in the industry as a musician, singer/songwriter, composer, writer and now radio presenter the quantum shift has been geared towards over inflated machismo and ego driven individuals rather than anything leaning towards an artistic bent or flair for anything more elevated artistically.

The problem primarily is one of secondary corporate construction. In other words, a system based upon the heat of competition in an alpha male tenor and setting, rather than one based upon building a system that benefits everyone organically in terms of growth towards something more elevated artistically.. Women in this marketplace acquit themselves very differently based on set roles handed down largely by mothers' who preach 'nurturing ' over confident participation in such an environment.

It is not only necessary to understand the inner workings of the male psyche in such a marketplace. The career driven women in this arena must also take on a leviathan type psychology to not only survive but succeed. All of the successful women in media that I know have secured their places by taking on a 'soldier on the battlefield' type mentality as sometimes this is the only way to condition the self to pass the finishing line. Other women I know have formed their own corporations and succeeded in this way.

Overall, the women that succeed (And there are many that do) though it is not the media's duty to report these findings. Do so because they have painstakingly formed strong alliances with other women concerned with putting something a little more holistic and maternal in terms of support networks back into the broadcasting arena. Lately the male/female support network structure is now coming into its own with more women proving that capability and success are built on skill and knowledge rather than on being the right or wrong gender for the job.

4 years, 6 months ago

Why aren't women being allowed to take on the leading role of breakfast shows? How many commercial radio breakfast shows are on air just now which are listed as Bloke first, followed by female side-kick? Almost all of them have the Him & Her Breakfast Show on Local FM, where He is the Craizeeee morning DJ and she laughs at his jokes and may also be reading a bit of travel news.

Why is Heart, the supposed female friendly radio station, using so many male presenters?

Why is a person who is a bloke one week but a women the next still unemployed as a presenter, even though we all know that they are extremely good at the job?

4 years, 6 months ago

Why aren't women being allowed to take on the leading role of breakfast shows?

Real Radio North West tried this with Sam Walker and Lorna Bancroft, replacing a well respected male duo of whom women complained about on social media when they replaced them. It bombed and was soon replaced with a male/female duo.

Sara Cox also presented the Radio 1 Breakfast show. It can be said it was the lowest point of her career. It took Sara to present other shows on the schedule to see how good a broadcaster she is, but she wasn't breakfast show material.

Radio 4 have had regular all female duo's on Today.

4 years, 6 months ago

Amanda, I worked at three community radio outfits in Ayrshire & did perceive female staff as having an edge on males doing in-studio multi-function tasks while on air & without fluffing their performance. If it is a confidence issue, the ladies are under-rating their own performance!
Personal charisma is gifted to both genders. The female radio presenters & announcers I hear on a day-to-day basis are as good as anybody else.
You jump on a Scotrail train, the train's intermediate stops are announced by a lady's recorded voice, same as the announcements at Glasgow Central station & elsewhere.

One oddity coming to mind is the reference to programme anchor men, rarely seems to refer to anchor women!

The era before commercial radio was a near male exclusive pop pirate radio cluster of services, primarily based on old ships. The living quarters on these ships were perhaps considered an environment not fit for a lady or even the girl friends of the pirate DJs!
The near all male pirate DJs eventually migrated to BBC Radio 1 & Radio 2 with ILR employing some from its inception back in 1972. -So the strong male culture on radio may be a bi-product of the aforementioned bygone era.
Saying that, the tough world of radio has currently a reasonable share of female presenters. Even the heavyweight current affairs programmes on BBC Radio 4 & regions like BBC Radio Scotland & Ulster have very good female presenters!

Getting put off by 'other factors' in your comment is a question to ask other female members, I think..

4 years, 6 months ago

Interesting point about Hirsty there, Art. I happen to agree.

However, I was always told that women don't like other women on the radio.

4 years, 5 months ago

There's a gender gap across the media in general, that's well documented. Radio, though, isn't very progressive. The majority of women on commercial radio are sidekicks, wall flowers, there to fulfill and perpetuate the familiar stereotype of femininity. It's no wonder that talented women look elsewhere.

If I look back five years at all of the women I knew in-person in radio at the time, I can probably count on one hand the number that are still in the industry - and most of them are in sales or similar now. (I can count myself as one that moved on, as radio had ran its course for me, into other media fields.) There's simply more opportunities for guys. The BBC is probably the exception.

4 years, 5 months ago

However, I was always told that women don't like other women on the radio.

Not the first time I have heard that James

4 years, 5 months ago

However, I was always told that women don't like other women on the radio.

I'd love to see the data which backs this claim up. I haven't heard it said recently, and I definitely don't believe it.

4 years, 5 months ago

I'd love to see the data which backs this claim up

I doubt there's any real data and it seems to be a lore that has grown legs and continued to run.
You're not alone in it not not thinking it's true

Contrary to that old urban myth (that no one can find any research to support) that women don’t want to listen to other women on the radio, I can faithfully add my voice to the chorus of female presenters to confirm that’s utter tripe.
It was an interesting twist to be one of the few women on LBC; one of three main presenters to be precise, out of a nearly 20-strong presenting team.
Radio still has a fair way to go in order to even out the gender ratio – both in front and behind the mic – which is why I salute Sound Women – but it does make a difference having women at the helm and I don’t just mean for the purposes of young girls having role models (albeit that's very important too). We sometimes pick different stories, draw out different angles and I can certainly attest that many of my callers on LBC were regularly women – who may or may not have called in to share the same difficult story with a man.


4 years, 5 months ago

I present a show for community radio. I know a lot about my show theme - jazz. Many people ask me 'why haven't you been snapped up?' [for commerical radio]. That's listerners, so I must be doing something right. I have great guests regularly - I even had the chance of interviewing Gregory Porter, can't be bad? I don't know why - but it has something to do with commerical radio presenter advertised jobs - I rarely see them here and I'm told stations only want famous people. I sing jazz and awaiting to do a recording, so maybe I will be famous some day... Hey, just give me a chance, I got journo skills as well...

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