Wednesday, April 24, 2013

First Gay Radio Show

To my knowledge no program has ever claimed to be the first hosted by a homosexual. In fact it is impossible to know how many of the hosts, actors, singers, producers and other staff in all of radio who have been gay since the beginning of broadcasting. But we do know that there was one show in the early 1990s which was marketed to a gay audience with an openly gay host. It is my most likely candidate for the first "gay" radio show. It was called Queer Talk.

Host Charlie Bado was the founder of South Florida`s Gays United to Attack Repression and Discrimination (GUARD.) The three-hour show debuted in September of 1992 airing Saturday nights on 1400 WFTL-AM.  Guests included both effeminate and butch gays but also sometimes Robert Culbertson from the Worthy Creations Ministry in Fort Lauderdale, a church specializing in "curing" gays. Within weeks of it's debut the Sun Sentinel Newspaper printed the headline "Station Taps A New Market With Gay Radio Show." The same newspaper wrote the following of the program
"The station deliberately chose two types of gay males as hosts for the show and to represent the gay community —one who looks and behaves straight, the other effeminate. Rae's carefully plucked brows, rosy cheeks and effeminate manner introduce him before he speaks. He says he`s a queen and proud of it. Bado flaunts his masculine appearance. He flirts, winks and could no doubt break a female heart or two with those tight jeans. He describes himself as butch. "Charlie wants to blend in; I don't," Rae says. "I'm colorful and flamboyant and I want people to know who they are dealing with."
How did this show happen?  PD Nick Lawrence claimed that the show grew out of the audience reaction to a dating program on the same station. I expect it also had something to do with the revenue potential. It was estimated that the gay community of Broward county numbered over 100k with at least $2 billion in disposable income excluding tourists. As Pat Curry once wrote "One thing`s certain about WFTL, It`s never boring." Queer Talk appears to have aired for less than a year. More WFTL history here.

In October of 2003 WTFL-AM switched calls with 850 WEAT-AM.  The personality of the station was lost in the process. The station on 850 tried and failed at an all news format. Today 1400 in Ft. Lauderdale airs brokered ethnic programming. The whereabouts of Charlie Bado are unknown. The new WFTL-AM on 850 retains little of the original local flavor.