Gay Sportscaster’ carving own niche on radio airwaves

By Randy Myers MCT

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. – Greg “The Gay Sportscaster” Sherrell is demanding justice on the Energy 92.7 airwaves. Over the weekend, someone broke into his car in the Castro and snatched his valuables and laundry. Gone are his trendy undies, but the most devastating loss is his cherished “glittery shirt,” the one with “Music Saved My Life” written on it.

“I want my glittery shirt back!” he bleats out with a Texan twang.

Co-host Fernando Ventura seizes the opportunity to egg his friend on, asking if the culprit had nabbed that particular pair of designer jeans with the flowers on ’em as well.

Such is the lively early morning banter that pops up weekdays between the dance music on the independently owned station. But what makes this FM program an original – besides being the only San Francisco Bay Area station to exclusively spin dance music – is that it appears to mark the first time a Bay Area commercial morning radio team has been made up of two openly gay men.

The plan was to have Ventura paired up with a woman. But no Grace to his Will could be found.

When Ventura suggested that Sherrell, whose cheeky sports updates had already scored with listeners, be given the job, the idea met with resistance.

“The first thing that the program director told me was: ‘No, it’s not going to work, because it’s going to be two gay guys, and you’re going to be labeled “The Gay Show,” and you’ll never really appeal to much more than gay people,'” Ventura said.

But that all changed.

One day in 2005, Ventura invited Sherrell to host the entire show with him. Their on-air chemistry clicked with listeners – the theatrics of Greg smoothly playing off Fernando’s low-key persona.

But why in the Bay Area hadn’t this been heard of before?

“I don’t have an answer for that,” said John Peake, program manager, who joined 92.7 after the show was in place. “Certainly, gay marketing has come out of the closet in the last few years.”

What’s most remarkable about the show is how the sexual orientation of 92.7’s hosts is integrated into the proceedings but isn’t the focal point, said Terence Kissack, executive director of GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.

“Here you have a general mass audience broadcaster who has as its general voice two openly identifiable gay men, and it’s part of who they are but it’s not the main focus,” he said. “The culture of the Bay Area is one where you have the acknowledgment of difference and a blurring of lines around identity.”