Make a wish. Blow out the candle. There's a birthday to celebrate. It's not just a person; there are many people involved. It's not just a place; it will feel like home when you find it. It's more than a family; its all the colorful characters you'd expect in a big one. It's the one-year anniversary of Global Voice Broadcasting (GVB); a dream come true for Tony Sweet and his chic circus of talented hosts and shows on the fastest growing internet radio station start-up, GVBRadio.com.
At this pivotal time in our country's history with the 2012 election being so important, the LGBTQ community is being used as a political wedge by the right-wing politicians and evangelicals. The gay community is under attack from the pulpits all across America. They are spreading hateful rhetoric that is spawning more heinous crimes against our boys and girls in the gay communities. We at Global Voice Broadcasting have a unique opportunity to stand up and have our voices heard globally. We are bringing the stories that local news outlets are not reporting and one man is at the helm of this extraordinary movement. Tony Sweet is encouraging diverse programming on Global Voice Broadcasting to include hosts like myself who are fearless in speaking out against this tidal wave of hate-mongering.
Let me take a moment to divulge a little more about Mr. Sweet: a man who is much more than a radio host, far more than a friend to those who come to know him well; a story that is so uniquely his own. Tony began his journey in Kansas. His love for gospel music brought him to the auditions for Gospel Dream (think American Idol meets GCB) where he was one of the finalists. It was Tony's interview with The Advocate in October 2008 (Ellen's wedding to Portia graced that issue's cover), however, that truly catapulted
him into the queer spotlight. A month after the release of The Advocate article, "On Air With Tony Sweet" was introduced to the Internet airwaves.
"I certainly don't consider myself a gay 'icon,' but I really strive to be the best role model for the community that I can," Tony said when I asked him about his journey to becoming COO of GVB. "It is through my show, and the radio station as a whole, however, that I truly try and celebrate the LGBTQ community."
I came to know Tony when he interviewed me back in 2008. That meeting led to my co-hosting with Tony for the next six months. As they say in the movies, that was the start of a beautiful friendship. My radio experience became infectious; I took my role with Tony very seriously and I was having so much fun. We made a great team, but as my schedule got busier I had to bow out. On my last day, he said, "Ann, you should have your own show. When I start my own station, I'll be calling you." I laughed and kissed him goodbye.
Wouldn't you know it? That country-hunk made his dreams come true! Tony became the co-owner and COO of GVB in May 2011 with CEO and partner (in the business sense of the word) Todd Murray. GVB hit the Internet airwaves with three shows and as its one-year anniversary is celebrated has 23 shows (and counting)! Regarding starting my very own show, Tony fulfilled that promise and, in August 2011, "The Ann Walker Show" was born. I have always been a strong and vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community and an avid follower of politics. So it was an easy decision as to what kind of show I would have. With my reputation of being outspoken, I saw the need to bring awareness about the continued blatant attacks against the civil rights of the gay community, including stories of bullying and the rise of suicides among our most vulnerable, the children. The need is great to give a louder voice to those without one!
GVB airs in 93 countries. With an average of 1.3 million live listeners and twice that many unique downloads, GVB brings over two million listeners to GVBRadio.com every month. "Every show has its own point of view. We have shows about sports, how-to find love, spirituality, comedy, finance, music, fitness, politics, pets, women's issues, entertainment, LGBT-talk and so
much more -- truly something for everyone," Tony said when I asked about what he loves most about the station.
Tony has done more than make his own dreams come true; he's given a platform to a diverse and dynamic group of hosts. Some are media veterans. Some are just starting in radio for the first time. Tony didn't just build GVB from the ground up -- he populated his platform with a fabulously crazy family of hosts, co-hosts, and producers: shows that act as the "voice" for a plethora of demographics and is truly representative of global diversity.
Tony is far from finished building GVB. There are now news segments during the day with all the current and breaking news. One of GVB's hosts takes a turn every Saturday at "My Top 10," an hour of the host's favorite 10 songs. Tony's newest creation is Global Voice Broadcasting's "Playhouse Theatre," broadcasting live theatre via the Internet. No ticket to purchase or parking to pay, just professional theatre at your fingertips. Implemented in January of 2012, the response has been overwhelming with more than 10,000 listeners.
Tony's original dream of a media empire using the Internet is definitely a 24/7 operation. As busy as he is he never seems to tire of mentoring hosts to help their shows grow and flourish which he does daily. All of Tony's efforts are part of his dream to grow GVB to meet the needs and demands of its listeners who are on the move themselves. There are so many ways busy
people get their entertainment and news today we know that this is just the beginning for Global Voice Broadcasting.