A live mic for LGBT Philadelphia’s most disenfranchised

    When Kati “Jazz” Gray-Sadler, 56, speaks to members of the LGBT community, people listen.  Not just in Philly, but around the world.  As the producer and host of LesBe Real Radio, Sadler broadcasts live twice a month on G-Town Radio, a non-profit, community, internet radio station that reaches a global audience.

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    When Kati “Jazz” Gray-Sadler, 56, speaks to members of the LGBT community, people listen.  Not just in Philly, but around the world.  As the producer and host of LesBe Real Radio, Sadler broadcasts live twice a month on G-Town Radio, a non-profit, community, internet radio station that reaches a global audience.

    “We address the pink elephant in the room,” says Sadler. “Mainstream media coverage of the LGBT community is skewed and presents a limited perception of who we are. We are mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers and teachers.” A former corporate executive and mother of three adult children, she explains: “I wanted to bring some truth to the discussion, talk about the issues that affect us all as human beings, and provide a platform for open dialogue.”

    When Sadler launched her talk radio program in 2013, she knew she had to meet her audience “where they are” and that was online. “My children helped me get up to speed with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram,” she says.  Her son Trevor Sadler continues to support her efforts as technical lead and program editor. “I have an amazing team, including my co-host DeAnn Cox, technical assistants, and reoccurring guest speakers,” says Sadler.

    A mission for the disenfranchised

    Wearing a fedora at a jaunty angle, Sadler is at home working the controls at the radio station and speaking in a melodious voice to her thousands of listeners.

    “The reception has been phenomenal,” she says. “I didn’t expect the international reach but we live in a point-and-click universe. I archive all my programs to the cloud. No matter where you are in the world, you can have access to LesBe Real Radio.”  

    Reaching the disenfranchised is part of Sadler’s mission. “There are still places in the world where identifying as lesbian or gay can cost you your life,” she says. “When 18 brave individuals participated in the first Pride march in Uganda last April, we couldn’t be there, but we covered the event and brought attention to their struggle. I continue to communicate with them almost every day via Facebook and email to help and support them with their daily issues.”

    Sadler understands the complexities of sexual identity. “I have known about my sexuality since I was five,” she says. “My biggest challenge was coming out to my children. I was afraid of losing their love and respect.” Sadler needn’t have worried about her eldest son. “I thought I was keeping my lesbian identity a secret, but when I was on vacation with my partner, my son Julius called and expressed his unconditional love and support,” says Sadler.

    It was not as easy with her daughter. “When she was in her teens, Crystal didn’t understand. It took a couple of years to regain our relationship, but now she’s my biggest advocate.” Sadler’s transition was easiest for her youngest son. “Trevor was raised by two moms, and he doesn’t think that love has a gender.”

    Reaching LGBT youth

    LesBe Real’s largest audience is in the United States, but the U.K. is catching up fast. “Our second-largest demographic speaks Spanish, so we are going to have a translator during live broadcast,” says Sadler.

    Sadler presents a wide variety of guests on her program, reflecting the diversity and interests of the LGBT community. She recently launched LesBe Supportive Initiative, spotlighting at-risk youth.  On November 13, 2013, she invited three students who attend YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter, a one-year program for high school dropouts to earn their diplomas while learning job skills and doing community service. 

    “These are kids who have been rejected by their families; they don’t have anyone who champions them,” says Sadler. Her eyes mist as she remembers receiving a call from London prior to the broadcast. Aaron Paul, a singer and protégé of Simon Cowell who had won Britain’s Got Talent, wanted to extend his support to these lesbian and gay high school dropouts.  

    “I thought he wanted to do a radio call-in during the broadcast, but he was in New York City, and he actually came to our Germantown radio station on a rainy day and met with the YouthBuild students. They were thrilled. It meant the world to them,” recalls Sadler. What impressed her the most was that the British pop star didn’t want any press about his participation. He was there just to help the children.

    Sadler’s ease with public engagement in nothing new. Since 1994, she has provided career coaching, business development consulting and multi-media services. A lifelong community activist, she previously served as mayor of the Borough of Chesilhurst, New Jersey (1999-2001), and in 2007 she launched JazzyOne Productions, a film and stage production company committed to bringing awareness to LGBT hate crimes and HIV/AIDS.

    Seventy percent of the show’s listeners are in the Delaware Valley, 23 percent are in the U.S., and 7 percent are worldwide. Sadler’s goal is to expand LesBe Real to public television. Oprah, look out. Here comes Jazz!

    Listen to LesBe Real Radio live on the second and fourth Thursday of every month.

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