The Gay 90’s

in Media

The Gay ’90s, a weekly LGBT+ live “talk/call-in show” hosted Buck Harris, aired from 1993-1999. The Gay 90’s made radio history as the “nation’s first gay and lesbian talk show.” The show’s tagline, “Sometimes serious, sometimes humorous…but never straight talk” emphasized that The Gay 90’s was a radio show “by gay and lesbian people for gay and lesbian people.” Host Buck Harris, a gay rights activist, provided a gay male perspective, while co-host Karen Harrison, a former fitness trainer, provided the show with a “lesbian point of view.” Joan Kavanaugh later replaced Karen Harrison as Harris’ co-host. The Gay 90’s initially aired on WHK 1420AM between 9-11PM on Friday evenings before being moved to Monday evenings between 9-11PM. Episodes of The Gay 90’s were recorded at WHK’s studio located inside Tower City Center, 230 West Huron Road. In 1994, The Gay 90’s was moved back to its original WHK 1420AM Sunday evening 9-11PM time slot. Feeling that the show had been neglected by WHK 1420AM in favor of sports broadcasts, Harris later relocated the show to a new station, WERE 1300AM, in 1996. After moving to WERE 1300AM, The Gay 90’s resumed airing on Sunday evenings between 7-9PM. In 1994, The Gay 90’s again made radio history as the “first gay radio show in the Midwest to do a remote broadcast” after conducting its’ first remote show live at Over the Rainbow.

The Gay 90’s primary objective was to provide an on-air “forum for the lesbian and gay community” in northeast Ohio. Each of the show’s weekly two-hour broadcasts centered around a particular theme and covered topics ranging from “legal rights, homophobia, safe sex, coming out, counseling services, relationships, [the] gay elderly, and the arts and nightclub scene.” Weekly episodes typically began with an hour of guest interviews and concluded with an hour of “screened listener calls.” On average, approximately 20,000 listeners from around northeast Ohio tuned in to the show every week. Harris noted that The Gay 90’s provided a “vital link to the [LGBT+] community: to the fourteen year old gay teen who said he had been contemplating suicide until he heard my show; to the 73-year-old lesbian who came out on air; to the scored of gay men and lesbians, who because of disabilities, are unable to connect with our community in ways other than the radio and press.” Though powerful, these examples point to only a small fraction of the ways The Gay 90’s functioned as a vital community touchstone for the six and a half years it remained on air. In 1999, The Gay 90’s’ final broadcast aired from 7-9PM on WERE 1300AM.

“‘The Gay 90’s’: How A Trailblazing Radio Show Made History in Cleveland.” WKYC. YouTube.

Additional information coming soon.


  • “Buck Harris Interview, 20 April 2006.” Cleveland Voices.
  • Duane, John. “Gay Call-In Show on WHK; GayWaves Moved to 11:30AM.” Gay People’s Chronicle. February 19, 1993. Page 21.
  • Drake, Leda Carol. “The Gay 90s.” Cleveland Historical.
  • Graves, John. “The Gay 90’s Comes To An End.” Gay People’s Chronicle. August 6, 1999.
  • “More Power May Make Gay 90s Heard in 7 States.” Gay People’s Chronicle. December 1994. Page 5.
  • Martin, Dean. “Host Ends the Gay ’90s To Devote Time To Restaurant.” Gay People’s Chronicle. August 6, 1999. Page 2.
  • Miller, Jessica, and Mike Polk Jr. “‘The Gay 90’s’: How A Trailblazing Radio Show Made History in Cleveland.” WKYC. June 23, 2022.
  • “Not Too Straight From the Heart.” Gay People’s Chronicle. March 11, 1994. Page 5.
  • Santiago, Roberto. “Gay and Lesbian Show Premiers Tomorrow on WHK-AM/1420.” Plain Dealer. March 25, 1993.
  • Schneck, Ken. LGBTQ Cleveland. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2018. Page 18.
  • Strassmeyer, Mary. “WHK to do Talk Show for Gays.” Plain Dealer. February 2, 1993.
  • The Buck Harris Collection. Cleveland Memory Project.
230 W. Huron Rd., Cleveland, OH 44113 (Tower City Center).

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