60 seconds to spread word to women

December 10, 1993|By Margo Harakas | Margo Harakas,Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

What would you talk about if you had a minute of air time in the hot morning-drive slot in one of the country's top radio markets?

If you're Jennifer Keitt, you'd talk about domestic violence, black women and poverty, fashion, maybe offer a celebrity interview, or explore in "a non-sensational, clinical way" the female orgasm. Not all at once, of course, but one day at a time.

Ms. Keitt is a 29-year-old entrepreneur who two years ago launched Today's Black Woman, a self-syndicated 60-second radio show aimed at African-American women. Twice a day, Monday through Friday, the show airs on black stations in Chicago (WVAZ), Minneapolis (KMOJ) and Hopkinsville, Ky., (WQKS). Stations in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Cleveland may soon pick up the show, she says.

While distribution admittedly is limited, for Ms. Keitt it's enough to know that the program she conceived, despite its brevity, is touching women's lives as she intended. Sixty to 100 women a week call to tell her so.

"It's important to me that it is known as an entity black women can turn to . . . something they can call their own," says Ms. Keitt, who lives in Coral Springs, Fla.

After a pause, she adds, "In reality, though that's the slant I put on it, it's information any woman can use."

Ms. Keitt, who has a degree in broadcasting and has been a radio and TV reporter, anchor and producer, relocated from Chicago to South Florida in August, when her husband, Tony, became program director at an FM station in Miami.

Ms. Keitt tapes her interviews at home, five to 10 a week. She takes the tapes to her husband's studio, where the show is produced and copied onto reel-to-reel tapes. The tapes are then shipped out to the stations that broadcast her show.

When Ms. Keitt in 1991 initially proposed to WVAZ in Chicago a show directed at black women, she was told it was a good idea, but she'd get only a minute. A minute! A minute to cover AIDS? To talk about the myriad problems of working single mothers? How could you do it "in its rarest, rawest form," she says, without trivializing the subjects?

"At first, it seemed overwhelming," Ms. Keitt says. But as she got into it, she was surprised at how much she could pack into that blink of time. Keep in mind, that 60 seconds includes a promo and intro as well.

Ms. Keitt feels good that in the two years her show has been on the air, she's taken risks with topics some have considered controversial.

Yet the biggest complaint, she says, "is the show is not long enough. I just tell the women I have no control over the air time."

Her typical listener, Ms. Keitt says, is a black, single woman, 25 to 44, college-educated, stable and progressive-thinking.

"What turns me on is when women talk about the diversity of the show and how many of the subjects affect them one way or the other," she says.

The subjects vary widely.

"Tomorrow I'm interviewing David Belton, a black man [imprisoned for life for murder]. He's written a book, 'Each Night I Die.' We're going to discuss how black women raising their young sons alone can keep them off the streets."

The same day, she taped a show on black women and self-esteem.

Occasionally, a topic overflows a single show and expands into a two- to five-part series.

A series on the workplace took a look at the jobs black women hold, the struggle for promotions, and tips to improve the job situation.

Other series dealt with black women and acquired immune deficiency syndrome, and the controversial female orgasm.

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