10 Questions with ... Monika Thomas
March 7, 2011
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- KEAG/Anchorage, AK - (I started at 16 years-old)
- KFQD/Anchorage, AK - Heritage News/Talk Mornings - PT/On-Air
- KLLC (Alice @ 97.3)/San Francisco - PT/On-Air
- KMXS (Mix 103.1)/Anchorage MD/Middays
- KDBZ/(The Buzz)/Anchorage - MD/Mornings
- Southern Wave FM (Miyako 76.5)/Japan (My show was "Radio Momo")
- Brazil's CaiobÃ¡ 102.3 FM Curitiba
- BBC 3 Counties Radio/U.K.
- RDU 98.5 FM in New Zealand
- Star FM & 2MC FM/Australia
- FCC Free Radio - Founder of "Sexploration with Monika"
- KEZR (Mix 106.5)/San Jose, CA - P/T On Air
1) Who do you consider your radio mentors?
Rosie Mills, Roxie Lennox, Susie Bright, Sue Johanson, Dana Jang, Dave Shakes, Jhan Hiber and Nina Hartley.
2) What makes the Bay area unique? How does this compare to other markets or stations you have worked at?
San Francisco is known for diversity, a history of social justice, and many sex-positive communities. It may be the perfect place to start a sex-positive talk show because people can be very open here about sharing their experience and flying their freak flag. There are so many amazing clinicians, experts, community leaders, and instigators that are doing incredible work here and with the sex-negativity in other media, they are excited to share their ideas with me.
3) What do you like best about working in the Hot AC format compared to other genres?
The music is fun, and I love the challenge of packing a big ideas into short breaks, like the implications of 11th-dimension string theory, multiple universes, and doppelgangers on reincarnation. Plus, I love to dance around the studio in my headphones.
4) You are currently on the air at KEZR (MIX 106.5) in San Jose, but you've also done radio overseas in other countries including Japan. You've worked in programming, you have your own online Talk show, and you do voice-over work as well. How did you develop the experience to pursue such a versatile radio career, and how do you balance all these responsibilities?
My life is busy but meaningful, because encouraging communication about sexuality is empowering. After travelling the world and interviewing experts in many fields I am addicted to learning, listening, and creating connections between belief systems. I'm also a workaholic (I have seven jobs). But my work is ridiculously fun, so don't cry for me Argentina. Besides, I used to be a normal work-a-holic disc jockey, and now I'm chock full of sex tips from three years worth of sexy interviews. It's a hard life. ;)
5) How did you end up working on a radio station in Japan?
Wanting to see the world, I was doing a year on a sub-tropical island in Japan teaching English. I walked into Southern Wave FM Miyako fresh from the beach covered in sand and salt. My Japanese isn't great, and the PD (who greeted us heartily) couldn't speak English, so my friend translated that I did radio in Alaska. They offered me my own show on the spot, which became "Radio Momo." There were only 15 people on Miyako island who spoke English, so I just had fun with "Radio Momo," chatting about my favorite songs, my travels in SE Asia, with a spattering of my Japanese. In fact, my PD actually told me to talk *more* because English is way cool in Japan - which is what all that "Engrish" is about.
6) You started your own online Talk show called "Sexploration With Monika" where you have built a following by giving sex advice to your audience as a modern day Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Tell us about the inspiration to start this venture and what we might hear during a typical show?
My goal was to combine my love for radio with the cutting edge field of sexuality. A sex-positive talk show would not only be compelling for listeners and personally enriching but would also have the largest social impact. I'd heard men in every market talking about sex, but few women did with openness or authority. Female and alternative sexualities have a long history of suppression that we are just beginning to deconstruct. Both men and women can benefit from the open exchange of ideas around sex and my open-mindedness and frank communication may encourage other women and men to be more open about what they want and don't want. Also, even when people think an aspect of sexuality is "just wrong," they are still fascinated by it. Sex has a powerful pull. Meanwhile, the parties (a.k.a. "networking opportunities") are *so* entertaining. I'm very passionate about my work!
"Sexploration with Monika" is an interview show with experts in human sexuality academia, urologists, gynecologists and clinical sexologists, sex-educators and relationship experts, sex-workers from dancers and activists to dominatrixes, polyamorists, kinksters, and tantra teachers.
We focus on the work of each guest, discussing sexuality-related current events, and answering listener questions. As a certified sexual health educator I often field questions from listeners about anything from orgasms to STD's, even how to have the perfect three-some.
I'd like to recognize sexuality as a field for human connection, social change, education and consciousness-raising with a focus on authenticity, pleasure, and being present in the moment.
7) How do you prep yourself for your radio shift and your Talk show?
For KEZR, my show prep focuses on relatable, uplifting content. San Jose is more conservative, so my show is light, friendly, and music-focused. "Sexploration with Monika" as a weekly Talk show with a monthly four-course dinner/show/on-location broadcast is much more involved. As I'm booking interviews, generating topics and networking with the community, I also host community events like "Wine Summits," and "Sex Geek Potlucks." I take copious notes in prep for the talk show (the 2 hours flies by), so we're happy to plunge down the rabbit hole of a new ideas, and I'm thrilled by the profundity of our discussions.
8) Tell us about FCC Free Radio?
FCC Free Radio was created by comedian John Miller for the local community to encourage freedom of expression and create a space for his own raucous and irreverent comedy show in 2008 after he lost his job at Microsoft as a computer engineer.
The studios are in the SOMA district of San Francisco and FCC Free Radio broadcasts on ShoutCast servers and can be found on iTunes, AOL Radio, WinAmp Radio and ShoutCast Radio. Sexploration with Monika is always among the top shows on FCCFreeRadio.com, and FFR gets 30,000 views each week, with as many as 120,000 hours of downloaded content every month.
9) What do you view as the most important issue facing radio today?
Maintaining the ability to really touch the listener intellectually and emotionally, plus, making the most of today's technology.
Social Networking websites drive my talk radio show and events. Plus, the power of being able to record my sexy broadcasts in the palm of my hand, produce on my own laptop, while being "professionally homeless" with seven jobs in a city with endless possibilities? It is the future, and I am having fun with it!
Life is change, and flexibility, education, open mindedness, and adaptability are key to survival in an evolving landscape.
10) What is the one truth that has held constant in your career?
Exploring and telling the truth is more meaningful than being shocking, but going deep with the truth can be pretty electric.
1) What career path would you be following had it not been for this industry?
One of my jobs is teaching Sex Education at a local High School. But on "Sexploration with Monika" I can go more in depth, talk about weirder stuff, and reach more people.
2) What have you learned about sexuality in three years of interviews with hundreds of experts in different fields?
It doesn't matter if we are talking about orgasms, the treatment of chronic pelvic pain conditions, "the battle of the sexes," tantra and sacred sexuality, or BDSM, fetishes, and kinky porn... we end up talking about the importance of knowing yourself, your boundaries and desires, and how to communicate. The central idea in sexuality seems to be presence in the moment, awareness of the sensations on the body, how our connection to our bodies and the bodies of our partners can create a transcendent and meditative state where we can experience an egoless connection with all life.
3) Who is your best friend in the business?
Amber O'Neil is my radio sistah! She and I worked at sister stations and now she has my old job at Mix 103.1 in Anchorage, and Mark Strickland will always be my #1 "Schmoopy!"
4) What do you like to read?
I love interviewing authors and take the time to read their entire books. Recently, "The Problem With Women Is Men" by Charles Orlando and "The Ethical Slut" by Dossie Easton.
5) Tell us what music we would find on your MP3 player right now and what is it you enjoy about that particular selection?
I am listening to "This American Life," "Radio Lab," and Buddha Bar. I love the deep exploration of stories, and world-flavored Ambient Electronica.