The JessicaSimien.com “She’s A Boss” series is all about women in leadership positions. Women are not celebrated enough for their amazing and one-of-a-kind accomplishments. We’re using our platform to shine light on some very amazing and intelligent ladies working toward (and realizing) their dreams. Not only will you have an opportunity to learn about them, you will also get to learn from them as they share their business advice and pointers on how to maintain balance.
First up is 27-year-old Cherita “Rita B.” Handy. I’ve known Cherita for years and I’ve enjoyed watching her reach career and life milestones at a very early age. She is a Jackson, Miss. radio personality, currently working as a Radio Host/Producer for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and her very own show, The Rita B. Show w/Mr. Adams. In her free time, she does stand-up comedy and even won an award for her talent! During our chat, she shared why she decided to create her own show and advice on how women can break into radio.
Check it out below.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: You are a woman in media, how hard is it for a woman to break into media, specifically radio?
Cherita Handy: I think it depends on her drive and ambition and also her connections. I would say where I am now, I got there because I knew somebody…because there was somebody speaking on my behalf. My skill set, it mattered, but it also mattered who I knew. I do think it’s hard to hold your own in radio too because it is typically a male dominated industry. When you think about all the radio shows you hear, the big names – Rush Limbaugh, all these other guys, Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner – it’s run by men. Women are usually just the sidepieces. If women really want to break into radio, they need to be outspoken and confident and just not accept being a sidepiece if they have the ability to lead.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What inspired you to start your own radio show?
CH: I wasn’t hearing the issues that I think are important being discussed and I know I have the ability to talk about them intelligently and maybe offer some solutions. No disrespect to the Tom Joyners, but it’s real playful. They’re real playful but we are facing some serious issues out here. Not to say that my show is gonna always be serious, because I’m a goofball, so it will be a mixture. At the same time, I don’t think we need to get complacent and act like issues don’t exist because they do. I think we could stand to have some more intellectual content on radio.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Going back to women in radio, do you feel that women have a special place and can bring something special that a man cannot? When talking about being a boss and being a leader, can women offer something different that is beneficial?
CH: Absolutely. I think you have a couple type of women leaders. You have those who are secretly insecure, so they’re going to be over the top and try to always say “I am a powerful woman” instead of just showing it through what you do. But I do think there is a special place for women in media. There is a certain softness and calmness about us, especially for public radio. All my experience is in public radio. They listen specifically for a woman with a particular type of voice. They want a woman’s voice to tell a certain story because people will receive it better. There’s a softness that comes from us that’s needed.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: As female bosses, we often are labeled as bitches. Some people even say and believe that women have to be bitches and be tough to be taken seriously. What are your thoughts on that, do you agree?
CH: [laughing] I don’t think you have to be a bitch. I think you have to be competent. If you are competent then you will earn the respect. I don’t think you need to force toughness because to me, it’s a hidden sign of insecurity. I think that if you’re good at what you do, then you’ll earn the respect.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What are some common misconceptions about female bosses?
CH: Well, like you said, people think we’re bitches. They think that we think that we don’t need a man or need assistance, but I need men for certain things. I’m not the type of woman who thinks that I can do everything on my own.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What advice do you have for young women who aspire to be in business, not just radio?
CH: I would say don’t conform, meaning don’t alter who you are to satisfy somebody or to get to a particular place. Don’t do it because that’s not respectful, that’s not dignity. Also, try to maintain a good reputation on all fronts – face to face and on social media. And hone your craft. I think it is true that women have to work a little harder to even get where men are. That’s a reality. Never stop honing your craft, don’t get complacent and try to keep yourself ahead of the game. It’s also good to embrace being a woman and having those qualities of being liked and being a sweet person.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: And use them!
CH: Yes, that’s how you can get people on your side. You should have a balance of confidence and being approachable too.
To hear more from Rita B., tune in to her radio show every Sunday at 7:00 p.m. CST on Blog Talk Radio. You can listen to her latest episode by clicking here. Be sure to like the Rita B. Show on Facebook to stay updated with their latest news.