Melissa Carter launches Progressive Voices podcast: ‘She Persisted’

Posted Friday, November 10, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog, MyAJC version

Melissa Carter, former Q100 and B98.5 morning show host, has joined Progressive Voices for a daily national hour-long solo podcast called “She Persisted.”

The show focuses on her life and her viewpoints on all sorts of issues, along with interviews and one segment she kept from her days on B98.5: a brief daily anecdote about a person in the news doing something stupid dubbed “Can O’ Crazy.”

She typically opens each show with a little story before moving on to heftier topics such as financial investment, sexual harassment and career shifts. One recent morning, she talked about accidentally doing No. 2 in her pants, using the proper cuss word because she is no longer on commercial radio. “Who does that? ” she said. “I do now obviously. If you wondered if I would share too much on the show, there’s the answer.”

On a more serious health note, she spent an emotional, sometimes tearful hour earlier this week discussing her kidney transplant 15 years ago. “You learn to appreciate your life and those around you,” she said, her voice breaking.

Progressive Voices is a four-year-old radio network co-founded by Atlanta-based Jon Sinton, who also ran Air America in the mid-2000s, and Reed Haggard, former sales manager at rock station 99X, where Carter began her radio career in the 1990s who also helped start Air America.

Progressive Voices, funded by foundation money with connections to David Crosby and Kirk Douglas, airs a variety of nationally known progressive radio hosts such as Randi Rhodes and Stephanie Miller, along with some home-grown shows. Sinton said they are working on building their on-demand podcast audience and Carter is part of that drive.

“She has such an ability to articulate her life,” Sinton said. “She’s a person who lives out loud in a way that people find fascinating. I really think she’s going to present a big breakthrough on the podcast, on-demand side of our business.”

Progressive Voices has seen its popularity double since Donald Trump entered office, Sinton said, to about one million unique listeners a month.

Haggard said saw a column earlier this year that Carter wrote for Georgia Voice, where she writes regularly. “It led to a conversation so when she was leaving her position [at B], she started doing two-minute commentaries for us about her life.”

They liked her work so much, they gave her the daily podcast. “The feedback,” Haggard said, “has been great. People really like her.”

Carter, in an interview, said she had never done a solo show like this before, that she had always been with an ensemble. “I was initially intimidated by the idea,” she said. “They never doubted that I could make the transition. Jon and Reed have been incredibly supportive. They’ve given me respect and trust. I’ve just jumped in the lake.”

Carter, a gay single mom with a three-year-old son, does her show out of her home in her Star Wars-themed office. She enjoys the freedom of going on 10 to 15 minutes without interruption and develop her voice. “It’s hard to have a natural conversation when you have an eye on the clock,” she said. In this case, “it’s a learning process.”

On her show from November 8, she acknowledged: “This is a stream of consciousness.”

She hasn’t eliminated the idea of going back to a traditional radio station, but she would still want to continue this podcast. “It is good to be out with people,” she said.

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