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Radio  
 
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Two still-active Pennsylvania programs, both on WXPN in Philadelphia, had their beginnings in 1974. Amazon Country, one of the earliest programs focusing on women's music and lesbian culture, was founded by Roberta Hacker, Rose Weber, and Jesse Ford, among others.

Q'zine was founded by John Zeh as Sunshine Gaydreams, later shortened to Gaydreams. It featured an hour of music and issues of interest to gays. In the mid-1990s, Robert Drake took over as host of Gaydreams and gave the show a makeover, changing the name to the more modern Q'zine, and changing its format to a queer arts and culture magazine.

Sponsor Message.

The show remains popular, but some listeners, including former Gaydreams host Alan Ross, regret the loss of the show's overtly gay name and political content.

Political disagreements also caused division in an early lesbian radio show on Seattle's KRAB-FM public radio station. Founded in 1974, the Lesbian Feminist Radio Collective produced the show WE--Women Everywhere, which featured a format of women's music, news, and interviews.

However, the collective could not come to agreement on the volatile issue of lesbian separatism, and, in 1975, it split into two groups, each producing a show that reflected the differing views of its founders. WE--Women Everywhere continued to feature feminist programming while Amazon Media offered more lesbian-focused programming, including discussions of such topics as animal rights and non-monogamy.

Harassment and Defiance

While listeners of these early gay shows may have been safe in their homes, those broadcasting were not necessarily so. Threatening letters and phone calls, lawsuits, and interference from station management and the government were common occurrences for producers of queer radio.

One Seattle lesbian producer received a visit from the FBI when she played the Alix Dobkin song "A View From Gay Head" on an early evening program. Agents informed her that she had unknowingly broken a Federal Communications Commission decency rule prohibiting the use of the word lesbian more than six times in an hour before 8 p.m.

The Dobkin song, which featured a chorus repeating the word lesbian six times between each verse, earned the station a stiff fine from the FCC and cost the producer her broadcaster's license.

Often, however, the impetus for queer programming comes as a result of the recognition of the blatantly unfair treatment experienced by glbtq people. Radio station KGAY, for example, began offering support for queers in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in 1993, immediately after state lawmakers repealed legislation protecting gay rights.

Queer Radio Today

Radio continues to be a significant source of entertainment and information for the queer community. Currently, there are approximately eighty radio shows around the United States focused on gay and lesbian issues. These include LesBiGay Radio in Chicago, GAYCNY in New York City, and Queer Music Heritage in Houston, among many others, including some mentioned above.

Queer shows are also produced in countries around the globe, from Australia to the Netherlands, including a show for queer Arabs called AHBAB in Beirut, Lebanon.

Some programs are syndicated on many different stations, such as the long running This Way Out, which airs on 185 stations around the world.

Commercial Broadcasting

Most gay programming is still carried on public radio stations, but queers have made some inroads into commercial broadcasting. The Chicago program, LesBiGay, begun in 1975, claims to be the only drive-time program in the U.S. that focuses on a queer audience.

On Los Angeles commercial station KFI-FM, an openly gay couple hosted Karel and Andrew, a popular talk show that did not deal exclusively with gay issues. After the death of Andrew, Karel embarked on a solo career. He currently hosts the Karel Show each Saturday and Sunday on KGO AM in San Francisco, a 50,000 watt member of the ABC Radio Network. He also streams special segments via the Internet through karelchannel.com and contributes a column to The Advocate.

Until his death in December 2004 from complications of AIDS, David Brudnoy was the most recognized voice of Boston talk radio for more than a quarter century. Brudnoy revealed his sexual orientation and HIV status in 1994. While his show was general in nature, he did not hesitate to use it to bring glbtq issues to the fore.

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