Women Of The Airwaves
Posted on May 29, 2006
Lynda Clayton -KSSJ 94.7 FM -Smooth Jazz
Lynda Clayton, host of “Smooth Jazz Work Day” on Smooth Jazz 94.7 KSSJ, never had the desire to be on the radio. But, she says philosophically, “Fate happens.”
In fact, Clayton’s fated rise in radio—first to the position of Arizona’s “First Lady of Rock ’n’ Roll” on station KDKB in Phoenix, then to the legendary Los Angeles rock stations KMET and KLOS and, eventually, to her current position with Sacramento’s KSSJ—began when she was only 17 years old. “I was teaching scuba diving in the Caribbean right after high school,” she recalls. “On the same boat as my sport dive were all these radio people from a station located in San Juan, Puerto Rico. We had so much fun, they invited me to be part of their team.”
Clayton’s broadcasting career, which spans more than two decades, took off at a time when women didn’t commonly host their own shows. “Thanks to FM radio, women became a part of the news or morning personalities and were called ‘sidekicks,’” says Clayton. “I was never a sidekick because I always had my own show, and that was a kick in itself.”
So how did Clayton, who was at the top of her game in one of the nation’s top markets, wind up in Sacramento? Love, of course. “After six years in Los Angeles, I met my match . . . my husband, Mike,” she says. “His job brought us to Sacramento.” And she has never looked back. “My six years here at Smooth Jazz have been some of my most special days in radio.”
One of the reasons Clayton enjoys working for the Entercom Radio-owned station has to do with her most beloved treasure, her daughter, 9-year-old Shayna. “This radio company permits me to be a mom first and a radio personality second,” she says. “They truly put families first in the way they handle their employees.” And Clayton relates to her listeners. “We have a lot in common. We are busy parents and even grandparents. We are working professionals, and the contemporary music helps to smooth out our day.”
But Clayton’s life hasn’t always been as easy as the jazz she plays. Professionally, she has weathered the sale of stations, a change or two in format, the rejection of listeners, even the wrath of new management who fired her after what she calls “six wonderful years” at a station she loved but would rather not identify. She views these setbacks ultimately as blessings and hopes to share what she’s learned about bouncing back. “I would like to [write] a book on surviving any kind of rejection, especially the kind experienced in radio,” she says. “Doors slam and windows fly open—actually, that’s not a bad title for the book.”
For now, Clayton is perfectly content with her life. “I’ve been very lucky to do what I love to do and make a life out of it,” she says.
Nikia Moore -KBMB 103.5 FM -The BombHip-Hop/Rhythm and Blues
After listening to Nikia Moore, KBMB 103.5 The Bomb’s “midday lady,” do her thing on “Nikia in the Midday,” you may be surprised to learn this Bay Area transplant, who started her on-air career on radio station KCSF–City College of San Francisco, is only 23 years old. That’s because Moore’s on-air persona comes across as supremely self-assured for one so young. Her voice has an appealing lilt and laugh as she serves up hip-hop and R&B tunes and kibitzes with her audience. The girl knows how to have fun with what she does.
Moore, who has been with The Bomb for two and a half years, picked Sacramento as the place to pursue a profession in broadcasting for a couple of reasons. “I knew it would be a lot easier for me to move up in my career in Sacramento because the competition is so fierce in the Bay Area,” she says. “And when I first heard The Bomb, I knew it was the station I wanted. It was an independent station at the time. I figured I would get more hands-on experience and there would be more people to teach me.”
Moore has not been disappointed. In a short time, she’s worked her way up from intern and co-host of Sunday’s “Gospel Express” to weekend on-air talent to hosting her current spot: weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And she is still learning. “Our DJ here, DJ Tosh, is actually teaching me how to mix records,” she says. “It fascinates me. There aren’t a lot of female DJs out there. That would definitely be fun.” Moore points out that her title is on-air talent or personality. DJs, she clarifies, actually mix records and CDs.
Eventually, Moore would like to have her own syndicated radio program or become a VJ (video jockey) on a cable music channel like MTV or BET. “I’d love to do that,” she says.
During off-hours, Moore contentedly lives the single life—“I’m pretty picky,” she explains—and hangs out with her pet hermit crab, Hermie. But her real passion is her family, with whom she spends most of her free time. “I’m usually with my Aunt Kitty during the week,” she says. “We’re really close. My dad is out here. Or I go to the Bay Area to see my mom.” Moore’s family shares a deep sense of pride. “Everybody is strong and positive and successful in their life. It’s nice being a part of that,” she adds.
When asked what would surprise her listeners most about her, Moore doesn’t hesitate. “I’m goofy,” she says. “Every day when I come into work, I wear fuzzy slippers.” She also admits to toting her Tickle Me Elmo doll into the studio more than once. “I’ll do anything that will get me happy and comfortable and in a giggly kind of mood to go on air,” she says, then emphasizes, “I’m definitely goofy.”
Stefani -Howard 93.7 FM KHWD-Alternative Rock
When you check out Stefani’s promotional photo on Howard 93.7’s website, you might think you’re looking at a movie star. She’s stunning—a sentiment that makes her laugh. “My co-worker, Marcus, asked me one day what kind of film they used,” she recalls. “He asked me if they had sprinkled magic on it.”
If Stefani’s star-quality beauty is subjective, her on-air ability is not. She enjoys what she does, and it shows. “This is the ultimate job for any nerdy person—me—that spent most of their adolescence obsessing over music magazines and mixing tapes for their friends,” she says.
KHWD’s alternative rock format features “Howard Stern in the Morning,” right before Stefani’s midday shift. The station even uses Stern’s name for station identification, rather than its call letters. And while she can’t comment on Stern’s projected move to satellite radio, Stefani can talk about her recent trip to the Big Apple to meet the shock jock. “I actually broadcast my show from there,” she says. “It was cool. He was really nice and really professional, easy to work with. I found his demeanor on mike and off mike to be very different.” Stefani’s segment on Stern’s show also aired on E! Entertainment Television.
Like Stern, Stefani doesn’t shy away from controversy. She welcomes it. “The thing with radio is it’s a boys’ club,” she explains. “You have to be more brash and loud and hang with the boys if you want to make it . . . which I don’t mind, actually. I’d rather work with men than women.”
When this 25-year-old, who started in broadcasting as an intern on KTCL Channel 93.3 in Denver, isn’t on-air, or taking Stern up on crazy challenges—“He paid me $200 to put on a bikini, and I did it,” she says—she is reading. Her list of favorite books includes To Kill a Mockingbird and anything by David Sedaris. Or, she is traveling. “I love to travel—love it, love it,” says Stefani, who enjoys the freedom of trekking to new places alone. “There is so much to see in the world. I try and go somewhere that requires a passport at least once a year.”
Stefani graduated from Hastings College in Nebraska with a double major in broadcasting and theater, and spent six months studying in Northern Ireland. “I went there on a theater scholarship,” she says. “I love Ireland. I learned so much. I learned independence and how to be self-sufficient.”
In spite of her on-air persona, Stefani has a definite conservative side. “I’m very anal about punctuality and about people showing respect for other people,” she says. “As for politics, I’m pretty liberal. I’m a nice balance.”
Eventually, Stefani, who is single, would like to work in a larger market, but realizes her stint as a rock-station personality might not last forever. “So, while I’m young, I want to enjoy it,” she says. Next, she would like to try her hand at voicing commercials. “If I could make a living off that, it would be great.”
Jennifer Wood -KNCI 105.1 FM- Country
At heart, Jennifer Wood, KNCI’s midday personality and the station’s music director, is a down-home girl who grew up tramping through the woods with her dad, hunting and fishing. She loves to cook and shares her recipes with her listeners on-air, in newspapers and on television guest spots. “And I never, ever miss an episode of ‘Iron Chef’ on the Food Network,” says Wood, who owns more than 400 cookbooks. She also is an avid gardener, whose green thumb, along with that of Dale Shaver, her partner of 12 years, produces vegetables, herbs and flowers in her back yard. “It’s amazing how herbs grow here in Northern California,” she says. “I love it.” In her spare time (Did someone say “spare time”?), she reads.
Wood graduated from high school in Owasso, Okla., where she recalls riding on the same school bus as Sandy Mahl, who later became Mrs. Garth Brooks. Her high grade-point average—straight A’s—and her passion for music earned her a number of college music scholarships. “The scholarships were for singing,” she says. “But I dumped all that, paid my way through broadcasting school and got my first radio job in Tulsa, working the overnight shift. It was exactly what I wanted to do—share my love of music with others.”
Since that time, Wood, who was hooked on music from the time she was a little girl singing in the church choir and whose interest increased when her grandfather taught her how to play guitar, has worked at country stations in Anaheim and in Seattle. She moved to Sacramento in 1992, where she assumed both of her current positions. Wood’s country lineup broadcasts Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and on Saturday until 2 p.m.
Shaver, who shares a home with Wood, recently started commuting to Los Angeles to work. “I only see him on weekends, which is a total bummer,” says Wood, who ultimately views their separation through a lens of faith. “God never gives you more than you can handle. And when [Dale] can’t make it home on a weekend, I just have an orgy of cooking.”
Plus, she always has the birds to keep her company. “I have been baby-sitting—I put that in ‘air-quotes’— two parakeets for a 12-year-old friend of ours for about a year and a half,” she says. “They are so funny.” If that’s not enough, she has a 13-year-old black cat to entertain her. “His name is Shadowfax, from Lord of the Rings”—one of her favorite works of literature.
Wood relishes her job. She calls the studio at KNCI her playpen. Her listeners are her playmates, and her greatest joy is interacting with them. “They talk to me because they know me,” she says. “Nobody thinks I’m pretentious. I would cry if they did, because, honestly, I think I’m as normal as blueberry pie.”