10 Questions with ... Satellite Sisters
July 18, 2005
NAME:Satellite Sisters: Julie Dolan; Liz Dolan; Sheila Dolan; Monica Dolan; and Lian DolanPOSITION:Co-hostsSHOW:Satellite SistersMARKET:NationalCOMPANY:ABC Radio NetworksBORN:Fairfield, ConnecticutRAISED:Fairfield, Connecticut
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Julie Dolan: I started my post-collegiate career in the management training program at US Steel back in the days when the only women in the mill were the ones hanging up on the wall calendars. Pre-radio show, I worked in academia in the admissions department of several business schools including Tulane, Stanford, and UCLA. As a working mother, I employed every system of childcare known, including paying my sisters to shuttle my sons to school.
Liz Dolan: Just before starting Satellite Sisters, I was the VP of Global Marketing for Nike which was incredibly fun but kept me on the road too much of the time. When I came home form a long business trip to find a family of raccoons nesting on my couch (true story), I knew it was time to make a change. I called Critter Control and quit my job!
Sheila Dolan: After several disastrous attempts to support myself in the food service/acting strata, I came to my senses and became a public school teacher in NYC public elementary schools. One divorce and two Masters Degrees later, I founded my own school in lower Manhattan. Since moving to LA, I now juggle my job as a first grade teacher and my responsibilities as the Satellite Sisters Entertainment reporter.
Monica Dolan: I've worked in the medical profession for 25 years, first as a nurse and now as a medical researcher. Currently, I work for a medical device company and spend many hours on airplanes where I have time to read up on any exciting scientific studies that I can report on for Satellite Sisters.
Lian Dolan: Every job I ever had I use as a Satellite Sister: waitress (I make the coffee); film producer; music supervisor (I pick the bumper tunes); writer (head writer on our book and churn out the weekly e-newsletter as well as my own column for Working Mother); lifeguard (handy on Satellite Sister field trips to the beach). My sisters used to mock me for my frequent career changes, but it's all paying off for me now.
1) How did the radio show come about?
Sheila: The radio show came about through sheer willpower, naivetéeacute;, and the promise of never having to get dressed up again for work.
Liz: My sisters blame me. I saw a void in the media landscape. Why was there nothing on the radio that sounded like my sisters or my friends sitting around talking? Informed, fun women talking about everything under the sun with humor, respect, and a sense that they liked talking to each other. Then I thought, "Hey, why don't I get those sisters of mine together and we could do that!" just like the shows we used to put on in the backyard.
Lian: Liz lured us away on a sisters-only weekend to a spa in Calistoga, California. She said she had a business idea she wanted to try out on us. Well, it wasn't exactly a spa-it was a couple of moldy mud baths. And the business idea was a radio show that featured us and sounded like the way women talk when they are with their friends. We said, "Yes" just to get out of the mud. Doing our own radio show seemed as likely as going to Mars, so why not say "yes" to humor Liz?
Julie: I said "yes" to Liz's idea because I wanted to humor her. Frankly, she had been on edge all weekend, taking her blood pressure every hour because the stress of her Nike job was killing her. I was just trying to save my sister! It never occurred to me that we'd actually accomplish our goal.
Monica: when Liz proposed the idea, I agreed to do everything to support the effort, except talk on the radio. Now I have my own home studio with a personal ISDN line. Go figure.
2) Considering your physical separation, there has to be something in each one of your lives that your sisters don't know about- what is it for each of you?
Lian: I am frequently ordering gifts online during our conference calls.
Monica: I'm a true slob. When my family comes to visit my home, and the living room and kitchen appear neat, it's all smoke and mirrors.
Sheila: My life is an open book unfortunately. I guess there is one thing I have not admitted and that is my obsession with all things wasabi. All I need now is wasabi-colored sheets for the home.
Liz: My sisters think that because I used to work for a Fortune 500 company that I have some long-range business plan for all for us. I was working off Martha Stewart's plan, so I am not sure what to do now. I'd hate to have to testify against my own sister to follow Martha's new model.
Julie: When we do the show, it is 7:00 pm on Saturday night for me in Moscow. Frequently, I'm applying make-up and blow-drying my hair during the commercial breaks because I have to run out to an evening engagement as soon as we wrap. Yes, I have done the show in a sequined gown.
3) You did the show for public radio before moving to ABC- have you found differences in doing the show for commercial radio? Are there differences in the audience for each?
Lian: The biggest difference I feel between public radio vs. commercial radio is the difference between taped vs. live radio. Now that our show is 3 hours of live radio, we can really comment in the moment about what's happening in the world, in our worlds.
Monica: Both audiences relate to the minutia in our lives! While they may appreciate our longer, deeper interviews with newsmakers, they write to us about their battles with their teenagers, how to get the dog off the couch, why they like pie vs. cake. The small stuff connects.
Sheila: The beauty of our bond as sisters has always been the quick exchange of ideas, the quips, and the laughter. I think both audiences recognized the sound of friendship in our show.
Liz: We knew Satellite Sisters was on the right track when John McConnell of ABC Radio called and said, "I've been listening to your show on public radio and I love what you are doing." We trusted that John wouldn't tamper with the essence of Satellite Sisters: connection. And he didn't. It made the transition easy for us and our hardcore fans that followed us to commercial radio. The biggest difference for me is not the alarm goes off at 3:30 AM.
Julie: The show benefits from the fact that on commercial radio, we have more time! Three hours vs. one hour taped. There are five of us and we have a lot to say. Some days, three hours isn't long enough.
4) For each of you: who's been your favorite guest so far?
Lian: I loved talking to the women who decided to do something big, big, big for her 50th birthday. She took her mother and 7 sisters on a surprise trip to Rome to see the Pope. Now that is a great Satellite Sister moment.
Monica: It's a toss up between Steve Almond, the author of "Candyfreak" and "The Evil B.B. Chow" and the Butterball Turkey Hotline lady. Steve, because he's a funny smart man's man who made the sisters all laugh out loud. The Butterball lady, because of her great Midwestern accent, charm and her enthusiasm for her job.
Liz: It's hard to top the highest ranking women in American History, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Now that Condoleezza Rice has also achieved that rank, we invited her, too. Call us, Condi!
Sheila: My one and only celebrity interview was a phone in with Victoria Gotti. We dished about what it was like to date after a divorce. She gave me the most important advice that any woman has taken the time to offer and that was, "You are
Julie: Writer Anne Lamott. She's so smart, funny, warm, and human. Women that are still "a work in progress" are fascinating and inspiring..
5) Your motto is "Not every conversation will change your life, but any conversation can." Can each of you give one example of how a conversation changed your life?
Lian: A tarot card reader predicted that I would marry within a year to "a man I had a problem with in the past, but give him another chance". Several weeks later, I re-met a college acquaintance at a wedding of mutual friends. We had "an incident" in college that left us not on speaking terms, but now I saw this handsome, smart guy in a whole new light. We were engaged within 4 months and married within the year. Twelve years later, I still think of that conversation with the tarot card reader.
Monica: I was living in New Orleans and working in the Intensive Care Unit of a University hospital downtown, when my sister Liz called me up and announced, out of the blue, that she was moving to Portland, Oregon. I'd never been to Oregon, in fact growing up in New England we barely know the state existed. Liz asked me if I wanted to join her, I did and living in the Northwest has changed my life.
Sheila: After September 11th, my life took a turn for the worse. After twenty years in New York City, I knew I had to make a change. One night on the phone with my little sister Lian, she said, "Why don't you come to Los Angeles? You can always move back if it doesn't work out." Four years later, I'm still in Southern California and blonder than ever! I credit that conversation with giving me the encouragement I needed to restart my life.
Julie: Liz, my husband Trem and I were walking through a field of satellite dishes behind Stanford University on day. Liz and I were complaining about how our lives had no balance, our jobs were killing us. My husband said, "Why don't you think of something you can do together. You have so much fun with each other?' being the oldest sister, I assigned the task to Liz to cook up an idea we could all work on together.
Liz: For me, it's obviously the moment I said to my sisters, "Hey, what would you think about doing a talk radio show together.
6) You have your own book club, which raises a question: what one book would be your Desert Island Book? You get only one to have with you- which is it?
Lian: Something funny, like "A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.
Monica: Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina". If I'm really stuck on a desert island, I might as well knock out a 600 page classic.
Sheila: My favorite book is "Dubliners" by James Joyce. Reading it makes me feel like I'm coming home.
Julie: Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited." British the way I'll never be.
Liz: A book about how to build a boat
7) Of what are each of you most proud?
Lian: The fact that my two sons have my blue eyes, despite the fact that my husband has the dominant gene for eye color. It's the little victories that matter most.
Monica: Financial independence. Even though I have never made a lot of money, I've always managed to make ends meet, take a vacation every year and save for my retirement.
Sheila: My grown daughter says that she loves me at the end of every phone. That's an accomplishment. And, the fact that I remember the faces and personalities of every child I've taught over the last 15 years. That's a lot of kids!
Liz: I did a major career correction in my 40s because I realized that there is a huge difference between having a job you want and having the life you want. It wasn't easy to walk away from such a great gig at Nike. When I told my sisters my plan, they laughed so hard that Diet Coke came out their nose!
Julie: Clichéeacute; as it sounds, my family. My two tall sons and my husband of 26 years.
8) What do you do for fun?
Lian: I am a working mother with two active boys and a barking German shepherd. What could be more fun than being alone in my quiet car listening to the radio?
Monica: I love to walk my dog, ski, swim outside and go to the movies.
Sheila: Believe it or not, laundry. I also love to swim, eat, walk, drink lots of coffee and talk on the phone. Simple pleasures.
Liz: For a good time, I spend an evening alone on the living room couch looking at all the weekend C-SPAN 2 Book TV shows that I've Tivo'd. Nothing beats an obscure author talking about an arcane topic at a lightly attended event. Could that explain why I'm still single?
Julie: Cross country skiing in the Moscow parks where I try to keep up with 75-year old babushkas who are skiing on slabs of wood. I get a lot of practice because we have snow 7 months a year. Next winter? Ice fishing.
9) Fill in the blank: I can't make it through the day without ______________.
Lian: ...peanut butter.
Monica: my little yellow dog, Quin.
Sheila:... caffeine and talking to my posse, my Satellite Sisters everywhere.
Julie:... Starbucks coffee, which I routinely smuggle into Russia.
10) What's the best advice you've ever received? How about the worst?
Lian: Best piece of advice came from my sister Liz. Liz said, "Quit your job before you have a career!" A week later, I quit my advertising job and moved to Jackson Hole to ski for a couple of years.
Worst piece of advice: Take physics; it's easy.
Monica: Best piece of advice. A friend told me once when you are angry with someone or confronted with criticism, "Take the high road"
Worst piece of advice: When I was buying my first car, two years out of college, my then-boyfriend told me "you don't need air conditioning; it's a waste of money". This was August in Washington DC. That "no air conditioning thing" was a big mistake.
Liz: Best piece of advice: Before I went to college, my father said, "It doesn't matter what subjects you take. Just take the best teachers"
Worst piece of advice: A curly perm would look cute on you.
Sheila: Best: From my girl Victoria Gotti about dating in Los Angeles, "There are no real gentlemen in L.A. Forgettuboutit."
Worst: Marry him. He'll change.
Julie: Best: From our mother, who said, "Always buy expensive shoes."
Worst: From Liz who said, "Try my hairdresser. She's really good."