New York radio personalities Ryan Jay and Caroline Hand recently signed a deal with San Antonio-based Clear Channel Radio to become the first nationally syndicated radio talk show targeted at the LGBT community. PRIDE Radio with Ryan and Caroline airs in San Antonio on Sundays, 7 p.m. to midnight on KXXM-FM 96.1.
As gay culture assimilates into mainstream culture, do you think there is still such a thing as a universal LGBT audience?
Ryan Jay: I think there is still a core gay audience out there. I don’t know if it is there for our show, because our show is very mainstream. We air on regular FM radio as opposed to an all-gay satellite radio system. Listeners exposed to us are in the majority mainstream. The majority of the nation is straight — so the majority of people exposed to our show are straight. We have a lot of mothers and daughters listen to our show. A lot of straight people.
I think that there is a core gay audience for things that are a little bit more niche. Like drag shows don’t have a mainstream audience, they are still at gay bars to a gay audience.
Do you think that mainstream America sees an accurate picture of gay culture?
Caroline Hand: It is harder for me to speak to that since I am not as in the gay community. My guess would be they don’t get a full picture. I think any exposure is good in that it promotes tolerance and acceptance.
RJ: I think for the gay community, there are people who will watch a gay program and either identify with it or say that is not me. Whereas the straight — society will try to recognize that as something that is hopefully different, but not scary.
It is helpful for a show to appeal to a wide audience, specifically a heterosexual audience. What do you think the social importance of that is?
RJ: I think I know what you are asking. I hope for me being out on the radio is an opportunity to desensitize listeners to an identifiably gay-sounding voice. We haven’t heard that in this country ever, really. It’s really a chance to say, look, there is room for diversity on the radio.
Caroline, do you feel you carry any particular responsibility with that as the straight woman on the show?
CH: Sure. I think part of the fun of our show is that a ton of people can relate to the gay man-straight woman friendship no matter where you live in the country. People ask me all the time, “What’s it like for you being the straight girl?” For me it’s not all that different than my real life. I think people expect me to feel out of my element when we do the show. I don’t at all. Certainly there is a social aspect in terms of broadening minds and keeping people in touch with the gay community. But I also think we try to keep it accessible to everyone.
RJ: Our gay agenda is very subtle. First and foremost Caroline and I are entertainers. It is the content of our program that attracts people to the show. We are interviewing A-list celebrities. We are talking about fashion, travel, and lifestyle trends. Underneath all that, because I am gay, because Caroline is straight ... `we` hopefully enlighten an audience that doesn’t know gay people, or makes gay people that are alone in smaller communities that are exposed to our show feel less alone.
You have embraced the “Will and Grace of radio” label with great success for yourselves. Do feel it ever limits you? It is generally considered a positive image of gay people in popular culture, but do you think it still operates on some levels as a stereotype?
CH: I don’t think so. I think it, at the very basic level, gets the point across, that Ryan is gay and I’m not. Which of course many people still don’t get and they all think I am a lesbian. It’s quite funny! It doesn’t bother me.
RJ: Yeah, and the next question is always, “So, Caroline, are you dating a girl?” •
The Current assures you it wasn’t our next question. You can contact Ryan and Caroline at Pride Radio via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call them toll free at