Role Models & Path Pavers
The passing of Kitty Wells has me contemplating the power one person has to affect change and influence others. Miss Kitty is one of those pioneer women who paved the way for females in every industry. She is the original Queen of Country Music. Her 1952 hit “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” was banned from radio airplay by NBC. The Grand Ole Opry asked her not to perform it. In spite of all that, the song climbed to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart. It was the first No. 1 country song ever recorded by a female artist. Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and even Taylor Swift can thank Kitty for being the first.
Barbara Walters fought her way to the top in a TV world where many believed that no one would take a woman seriously reporting hard news. In 1976 she became the first female co-anchor of network evening news, working with Harry Reasoner on the ABC Evening News. She went on to win many daytime and primetime Emmy’s, lifetime achievement awards and has a long list of accolades covering many decades.
In October, Erica Farber will be honored by the Library of American Broadcasters as one of their “Giants Of Broadcasting”. Erica is credited with being the first woman to become general manager of a major-market radio station (RKO’s WOR-FM Boston in 1976) and has had a long and successful career in broadcasting & publishing. She is the only female on the list of honorees.
These three accomplished women have inspired generations of females in music, television and radio to strive for the top. The climb is getting easier but it is still a hike. Yes, “we’ve come a long way baby” but we are far from there.
I have been asked in many interviews “Why aren’t there more women in radio programming?” My answer is always, “most women are too smart!” They want to have a life. Radio programming is a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week job. You have to be willing to battle to break the glass ceiling, put up with the good ol’ boys club and have such a great passion for it that you don’t mind what you are giving up to get there. Now I’m thinking that maybe those women just needed a good mentor to show them the way.
Take time today to seek out a young woman in our industry who is just starting out. Be a mentor and help her see the possibilities. Never underestimate the power you have to help transform another person’s life. A huge THANK YOU to Kitty, Barbara and Erica for your drive, determination and dedication to paving a path for the rest of us.