At WVIE, women's voices will be heard

Radio station will feature female hosts

June 01, 2006|By NICK MADIGAN | NICK MADIGAN,SUN REPORTER

A glance at your average magazine stand will reveal any number of women's magazines, but the notion of a radio station airing almost nothing but women's voices is rare.

And yet on Monday, a Baltimore radio station will begin doing just that. WWLG, which currently specializes in oldies, will get new call letters, WVIE, and a new talk-show format that will feature mostly female hosts. The 50,000-watt station, at 1370 AM, will be home to some of the best-known women in syndicated talk radio, including Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Laura Ingraham, Tammy Bruce, Dr. Joy Browne and the Satellite Sisters.

Bob Pettit, the station's general manager, made clear that the new WVIE -- the call letters are designed to suggest a "woman's view" -- will not focus on the kinds of issues typical of some women's magazines, such as fashion, style and domestic matters. Rather, he said, the station's hosts will roam across a wide panoply of subjects addressed by women.

"I want a station that gives a female point of view to issues that are important to both men and women," he said. "Women have the same interests that men have -- politics, health, family, education. I'm not targeting women -- I want a woman's perspective."

To get that, Pettit snared local rights to the nationally broadcast shows hosted by Schlessinger, Bruce, Browne and the Satellite Sisters, and struck a deal to bring Ingraham's show over from WITH-AM, a small, 1,000-watt station in the Baltimore area.

While Schlessinger and Browne's shows appeal primarily to people struggling with relationships and family issues, Ingraham and Bruce focus on politics and lifestyles. The Satellite Sisters, in contrast, is a daily gab fest between five sisters, from their posts in three cities on two continents.

Pettit said he is also looking for a local woman, someone with knowledge of local issues. For the moment, at least, male voices will be atypical on the station: One of the morning drive-time hosts, R.C. Allen, is a man, but he shares the slot with two women.

Talk-radio stations focused on women are not unprecedented. An FM station in Minneapolis, WFMP, went to a women's talk format four years ago, and most of its hosts are female. In Hartford, Conn., WXCT-AM bills itself as "Talk Radio for Women and Smart Men."

The Chicago Tribune reported that last year a Washington, D.C.-based FM talk network called GreenStone Media was formed with the mission of developing and syndicating programs for women.

And, the paper said, XM Satellite Radio created a channel last fall called Take Five aimed at women and stocked it with stars such as Ellen DeGeneres, Tyra Banks and celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

"Women have a strong listener base when it comes to the nature of what's happening in the country," said Bruce, a former president of the National Organization for Women.

"A woman's voice is important when it comes to politics, culture and the quality of our lives," she said in a phone interview from her Los Angeles home. "You don't have to agree with these women, but women's voices, especially as things change, more accurately reflect turning points in culture -- revolution, if you will."

Pettit said he was trying to find a workable format for the station that would not compete with what he calls its "brother" station, WCBM-AM 680, which is also owned by Mangione Family Enterprises and has a heavily male-dominated cast of hosts, including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin.

"What do I put up against Rush Limbaugh?" he asked, recalling the moment the idea came to him. "A female!"

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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