Published on Wednesday, 12 September 2012 15:38
Former longtime WVON-AM staffer Sharon K. McGhee has passed away from cancer late last night at the age of 54. For 12 years, McGhee was well known locally as the News Director, news anchor, and show host at WVON-AM -- at both AM 1450 and 1690.
Sharon McGhee was a native of St. Louis, MO. Prior to coming to Chicago, she hosted a top-rated morning show "Good Morning St. Louis," for five years on KATZ-AM radio in her hometown. There, she won an Achievement In Radio (AIR) Award on for a news series she did on the death of Emmett Till. Her radio station was sold to Clear Channel in 1997, who changed to the format from talk to music, releasing the majority of the staff, including McGhee. She then wished to move to a major radio market and sought employment in Chicago. In December 1997, she joined WVON-AM, and the following month, January 1998, was promoted to News Director for the station.
While News Director, she also served as a news anchor, hosted shows including "First Light," and launched WVON-AM's first book club, "Between the Covers." Sharon McGhee earned a second prestigious AIR Award for a five-part series on breast cancer she did for WVON-AM. In October 2005, McGhee stepped down as News Director, but stayed with the station as a news anchor. In 2008, she took as News Director once again, but by the end of 2010, McGhee exited WVON-AM completely to focus on her health struggles and some of her other ventures.
Outside of radio, McGhee was a widely respected creator of the stage show "The Pocketbook Monologues," as well as the author of three books: "The Pocketbook Monologues
," "The Coin Purse Monologues," and "The Cancer Monologues." (The last two books were also performed as stage shows.)
After reporting on the air about statistics from the Centers for Disease Control that revealed women of color had the highest new cases of HIV/AIDS, and then seeing the popular stage show "The Vagina Monologues" by Eve Ensler, McGhee decided put together a presentation to help out and focus on the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the African-American community, especially with women. She then authored "The Pocketbook Monologues." The term "pocketbook" was a slang term used by some older African-American women, describing their... lady parts.
The funny, but intimate, stage play was a hit and was performed nationwide by highly talented actresses. The play then became the book of the same name, which spawned a similar book/stage play for younger readers, and a book/stage play done in the same style, but focusing on cancer patients.
Sadly, cancer was also a subject that Sharon McGhee knew all too well. Over an almost four year period, McGhee had to battle ovarian cancer three times. She strongly fought the cancer in her body for a very long time, never giving up hope. Unfortunately, in the end, cancer won out in this long battle.
Melody Spann Cooper, President of WVON Radio and Chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation (WVON Radio's parent company), said in a statement issued this evening: "Sharon McGhee was one of the most creative people I've ever known. Her determination, passion and drive brought her to Chicago where she excelled in everything that was on her professional and personal agenda. She was a rare breed determined to do it her way, and she did."
A memorial service for Sharon K. McGhee will be held one week from Saturday, on September 22nd at Noon, at the William C. Harris Funeral Home, located at 9825 Halls Ferry Road, in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. A Chicago memorial service, put together by WVON-AM and McGhee's many local loved ones, is being planned, details of which will be announced soon.
Updated at 9:00pm with additional information.