Talking Dirty in the Morning: Sex and Sexuality in Radio’s Morning Shows

4/2012

Antti Mäntymaa

Intimacy is not a stranger in radio morning shows: hosts, guests and listeners discuss and determine, among many topics, sex and sexuality. My experience and then hypothesis was that, although frequent and bold, sex and gender talk is one-sided in many such shows: discussions are mostly about feminine women, masculine men and straight relationships.

This article examines sex and gender talk on three radio morning shows broadcast in Finland in November 2010. Two of them were broadcast on commercial radio (The Voice and Radio SuomiPOP) and one on public service radio (YleX). They are all format radio channels targeted to young or adult audiences. The material was collected from one week and it consisted of discussions by radio hosts as well as discussions between hosts, guests and/or listeners. Discussions determined manhood, womanhood, sexuality, sexual orientations or sexual habits.

Sex and gender talk was examined through discourse analysis. Finally three dominant groups of discourses were discovered: they were supportive to heteronormativity and exclusive of other sexualities. The dominant discourses were, however, vaguely challenged by a discourse that is open to gender and sexuality outside the heterosexual norm.