Her current post as program director and co-host of the nationally syndicated Steve Harvey Morning Show is the latest in a long list of high-profile positions for Carla. Earlier in her career, the Chicago native propelled radio stations in three major markets to success while finding time to create and run a thriving online lip-gloss company. It comes as no surprise that Carla has amassed an impressive collection of awards, including the National Association of Black Female Executives in Music & Entertainment’s 2001 “Ten Most Influential Women in Radio” designation.
So who was the influence behind this influential woman? It was her mother — the mother who walked Carla down the aisle at her wedding and died of breast cancer just three months later.
Carla’s mother, like so many women, took better care of her family than herself. She never had a mammogram until well after she found the lump in her breast. By the time the cancer was diagnosed, she had lost any advantage early detection might have offered. Still, surgery, chemo and radiation gave her several good years before the cancer made a fatal reappearance in her lung.
In the time she had left, Carla’s mother got involved with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Carla threw herself into the cause too, adding Circle of Promise National Ambassador to her list of titles. Today, Carla keeps her mother’s memory alive by urging other women to get mammograms and warning against the delay that — as Carla knows well — often makes a life-or-death difference.
When she graduated from Tuskegee University with a degree in mechanical engineering, few would have guessed that Ebony Steele would become the founder and artistic director of a dance company, the co-star of a feature film, the co-host of the nationally syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show and a breast cancer survivor — all by her mid 30s.
Ebony’s family and friends might have predicted all but one of those developments. Even as a young girl, she was drawn to arts and entertainment, inspired by her grandmother, founder of the first black-owned modeling school in their hometown of Birmingham.
It was the breast cancer that came as a shock to everyone. Ebony had left the number-one radio show in Birmingham to begin her dream job in Dallas, co-hosting a national radio show alongside Rickey Smiley. Just weeks before her debut, she happened to notice something unusual in one of her breasts.
At her sister’s insistence, Ebony called her doctor the next day. When tests confirmed that it was breast cancer, she made the difficult decision to tell her radio audience about the diagnosis before taking time off for surgery and chemo. Hundreds of emails poured in from listeners, and Ebony knew she had found her purpose: to share her story and help other women improve their survival odds through early detection.
As soon as she regained her strength, Ebony joined Susan G. Komen for the Cure and began touring the U.S. as a Circle of Promise National Ambassador, urging women everywhere to get mammograms — and get involved in bringing breast cancer to an end.
Her work as a journalist and co-host of the nationally syndicated Tom Joyner Morning Show puts Sybil Wilkes in daily contact with high-profile newsmakers. Over the years, she’s interviewed hundreds of notables, including no less than Barack Obama.
But much as Sybil values opportunities to learn from national leaders, she claims a Chicago public school teacher as her greatest mentor. The teacher was her mother, who inherited a love of education from Sybil’s grandfather, the first African American to earn a PhD from the University of Kansas.
With her mother’s encouragement, Sybil continued the family tradition, earning a degree in political science and communications from Chicago’s prestigious Northwestern University.
Not long before graduation, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sybil stayed nearby, starting her career at a Chicago radio station. By the time opportunities lured Sybil to radio newsrooms in Florida and North Carolina, her mother had made a strong recovery.
Several years after the original diagnose, the cancer returned. Sybil came back to Chicago to pursue her career near her mother. The mother-daughter team served as Susan G. Komen for the Cure volunteers, driving women to treatment sessions.
Sybil continued supporting Komen after her mother’s death, eventually taking the message of breast cancer awareness and early detection to her nationwide radio audience. Recently, Sybil increased her commitment by becoming a Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise national ambassador. It’s one of the many ways she fulfills the biblical teaching often quoted by her parents: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Co-hosting a nationally syndicated afternoon radio show is a full-time job. So is co-hosting a major-market morning show five days a week. Doing both is almost unthinkable, unless you happen to be DeDe McGuire. Her workday lasts from pre-dawn to beyond sunset, fueled by a midday lunch break and the passion that propelled her from small-town radio to legendary stations in San Antonio, Chicago, Philadelphia and Dallas.
DeDe’s passion for radio isn’t about achieving fame or connecting with the high-profile celebrities she interviews. It’s based instead on connecting with real people. She sees the lifestyle segments on her shows as opportunities to share ideas and information with her listeners, as well as to entertain them.
One of the most fulfilling ways DeDe connects with her audience is as a voice for breast cancer awareness and screening. She learned the value of early detection from an aunt who survived breast cancer and credited her recovery on catching it in time. Reminding her listeners to get checkups and mammograms is a way to pass along the wisdom that served her aunt so well.
A longtime Susan G. Komen for the Cure supporter and frequent participant in the Komen Race for the Cure®, DeDe took her commitment to the next level by becoming a Circle of Promise National Ambassador in 2010. Adding a new role in breast cancer activism to her double-duty radio career didn’t concern her one bit. It’s just part of what makes DeDe McGuire tick.
Café Mocha, the syndicated radio show created by and for African American women, features national superstars Loni Love, Angelique Perrin and MC Lyte. With a backdrop of the best in urban contemporary music, the three women offer their distinct views on today’s issues along with social commentary, celebrity interviews and inspirational self-help advice. As Circle of Promise National Ambassadors, they also help make listeners aware of the need for breast cancer education and screening.
Loni Love began doing standup in college. Not long into an engineering career, she turned her full focus to comedy. Since then, she’s starred in a Comedy Central special, made frequent appearances on hit TV series and served as a CNN correspondent on D.L. Hughley’s show. Both Variety and Comedy Central have named her to their lists of Top 10 Comics to Watch. Loni sees her Circle of Promise ambassadorship as a chance to make women smile while she urges them to get mammograms and checkups. The feedback from Café Mocha listeners has made her an even bigger believer in the power of comedy to do good.
Angelique Perrin didn’t just climb the broadcasting career ladder. She rocketed up on her own star power. In three years, she went from her first radio job in North Carolina to national acclaim on a popular syndicated radio show. Six months after moving to Los Angeles, Angelique was a regular on B.E.T. These days, she divides her time between an LA radio show, voicing a character on the new Rugrats TV series, co-hosting Café Mocha and serving as a Circle of Promise National Ambassador. She considers her work in the breast cancer movement as a way to share valuable information and resources with her listeners — an effort made all the more meaningful by the 2009 diagnosis of a lifelong friend.
MC Lyte is not only a record-breaker (first female rap artist awarded a gold single, first female solo rapper nominated for a Grammy, first rapper to perform at Carnegie Hall), she’s also a barrier-breaker who paved the way for countless other female artists. Lyte has made her mark as a movie/TV actor, voiceover artist, author, speaker and TV/radio personality as well. A common thread in her pursuits is helping other women achieve their dreams. It’s one of the reasons she enjoys co-hosting Café Mocha and serving as a Circle of Promise National Ambassador. The two roles came together in a recent Café Mocha show that stressed the importance of mammograms. Lyte urged the women who take care of everyone else to take time for their own physical and emotional wellbeing.