And people are listening.
As host of “The Shari Elliker Show” on WBAL morning radio and one of three on “Broadminded,” an XM Radio program described as “Sex & the City Meets the 3 Stooges,” the actress and radio personality has learned to truly enjoy the ups and downs of live broadcasting.
“When you’re live, you’re working without a net,” she said. “You’ve got to hope for the best and hope that whatever mistake you make can be fixed, or that it went by so fast no one noticed.”
Elliker started out as a film major at UMBC, but later moved into a specialization in broadcast communications via an interdisciplinary studies major. She served as general manager of the UMBC radio station, and during her freshman year secured an internship at the radio station 98 Rock, which inspired and fostered her interest in radio broadcast.
After college, she worked as a receptionist for several different media companies, hoping to work her way to the top. This route didn’t really pan out, however.
“It never works like that,” said Elliker. “Ever.”
Searching for another outlet for her speaking voice and ebullient personality, she began doing freelance acting and performing voiceovers. She spent seven years as a company member of various political satire troupes, including “Gross National Product,” and secured acting credits in “Homicide,” “America’s Most Wanted” and “Unsolved Mysteries.”
Obstacles on the Radio
In her quest to get into radio broadcasting, Elliker took some bold steps. Listening to the radio one day, it occurred to her how effectively traffic reporters get their name out to people. On a whim, she called the radio station and plainly asked, “How can I be a traffic reporter?” As it happened, the man who answered the phone was the regional manager of the radio station. Through this connection, Shari found her first job in the business as a beach traffic reporter on the Bay Bridge, which she wound up hating.
Elliker later found her way onto the morning show of 99.1 HFS, but it, too, wasn’t all that she expected. She didn’t meet her colleagues until the day before the first airing, and she knew immediately that the chemistry wasn’t there. As she struggled, Elliker started to doubt herself, thinking “this is the biggest mistake of my life. I’ve worked so hard for this, and this is terrible.”
“You have a responsibility to make the show interesting,” she said. “When that wasn’t happening, I felt like I should go back to doing traffic.”
Fortunately, Elliker didn’t stay in a lull for long. When her friend Christine Eads pitched a show called “Broadminded” to XM Radio, a satellite radio station available in the U.S. and Canada, she joined the three-woman show for daily – and sometimes racy – chat about relationships, pop culture, and two of her “true passions” – murder and beer.
“Women have really been under-represented in the radio, it’s really remarkable,” said Elliker. “It’s changing now. You rarely hear three women, hosting a morning show, talking about what they want, just like the men do. I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done.”
“It’s Like Having Your Own Room”
With a couple of years of “Broadminded” under her belt, and some time hosting a Sunday afternoon show on WBAL radio in Baltimore, in September Elliker closed a deal on her own daily talk show on WBAL, replacing long time morning host, Chip Franklin.
“The Shari Elliker Show” features a variety of lifestyle topics and guests, including UMBC alumnus Neil Beller ’83, information systems management, as well as discussion of national and local headlines – the type of flexibility Elliker enjoys. The timeslot allows Shari to do her morning show on WBAL, and then walk into a different studio to do “Broadminded.” She said she is thankful for the support she’s been given by the station.
“I can talk about things that I find interesting and have a passion for,” she said. “If you work with a group of people, there’s this constant compromise… which is fine, but it is kind of nice to have your own show. It’s like having your own room.”
– by Melissa Gilden ’10
Originally published October 2007