Melissa Carter’s familiar voice has disappeared from the terrestrial radio airwaves, but you can now listen to her commentary, and signature chortle, with a quick tap of your smartphone or via a link on your laptop.
Carter, who has been a mainstay in Atlanta radio — including a decade-long stint on “The Bert Show” on Q100 — recently left B98.5’s morning show after more than three years.
She quickly landed another gig on a liberal talk app called Progressive Voices, founded by Sandy Springs resident Reed Haggard and his partner Jon Sinton. The two also founded 12 years ago the pioneering talk network Air America, renowned in part for giving current MSNBC host Rachel Maddow her big start.
“I was an Air America fan,” Carter said. “To now be included in a group of women that includes Rachel Maddow … is such a huge honor.”
Carter’s one hour-show, named “She Persisted,” started Oct. 2 and is broadcast online weekdays from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and on rerun on weekends from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The show’s name is derived from a slogan that became popular this year after U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Nevertheless, she persisted,” in his comments to silence Sen. Elizabeth Warren as she objected to the confirmation of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General.
Haggard said the beauty of the internet and podcasts such as Carter’s show is that people can listen to them at any time.
“It’s available on a 24-hour live stream. You can click on the show to listen at your leisure,” he said.
Haggard said liberal media is currently in its heyday following the Donald Trump triumph of winning the White House.
“Business is booming,” he said. “The analogy I use for progressive liberal media is that Trump is to us what Clinton was to Fox News during the scandal days, like Monica Lewinsky. There is a tsunami of information and listeners.”
Progressive Voices recently hit a million unique users a month and the addition of a show like Carter’s is testament to its ability to reach out to many different audiences seeking information and conversations they can’t find elsewhere, Haggard said.
Carter said Haggard wanted her voice on his platform after reading her columns in the Georgia Voice, an LGBT newspaper, which she continues to write. Carter was Atlanta’s first openly gay radio host. For Carter, the chance to run her own show allows her to focus in-depth on women’s issues that she was often told not to talk about on corporate radio.
“With this show, I’m my own producer … it’s all me,” she said. “And I can dig deeper into what my guests want to talk about.”
“My goal is to really bring about conversations with women … that can’t be explored through regular media,” she said. “Diversity of people is important to me. All women’s voices are respected.”
So far guests have included women who have changed careers later in life and a poet who suffers from depression. Carter doesn’t stray from politics, however, and gives her own thoughts on such varied topics as the mass shooting in Las Vegas and NFL football quarterback Cam Newton’s remarks to a woman journalist that it was “funny to hear a female talk about [football] routes.” Note: As a University of Tennessee alum and football fan, Carter said she will never root for Newton, the star quarterback from Auburn, but she thought his apology was sincere.
Carter, a single mom of a 3-year-old her fans know as Mr. Carter, said she is able to work from home by conducting interviews via Skype. She purchased a new laptop, an expensive microphone and set up her own kind of soundproof studio in an office so she can broadcast to the world via the internet.
“I have my own editing equipment and built my own soundproof enclosure — and I make sure I turn the air conditioner off,” she said of producing and hosting her own show. “I never knew the AC could make so much noise.”
She also puts her cat in another room and makes sure someone is watching Mr. Carter to ensure no surprise interruptions. “I’m really amazed how little you need to sound so professional,” she said.
Carter remains under a non-compete clause until Valentine’s Day, she said, and she doesn’t know if she will return to mainstream broadcast radio. She said she intends to keep going with “She Persisted” because of the freedom Haggard and Progressive Voices give her to talk about what she believes other women want to hear.
“This is on my own terms. This is not temporary,” she said.
Being part of a new wave of media is an evolution in her career and, Carter said, “it’s exciting to be ‘cooler’ and part of a new industry.”
“Podcasting and the internet allow people to get what they are not getting from broadcast radio,” she said. “I’m still in love with broadcast radio … but there is an identity crisis taking place in broadcast radio.
“Corporate heads are nervous about ratings and only allow a personality to talk for a few minutes so they are not able to develop themselves,” she said. “These kinds of restrictions are not here on internet. And the best rise to the top.”
For more about Progressive Voices, see progressivevoices.com.