Photo depicting Besa Gordon wearing glasses and with blue-green nails recording in a booth for her radio program.

Thriving in Top 40: Besa Gordon Wants to Inspire a New Generation of Radio Hosts

by Victor Simoes

One of the few Black women in Seattle’s Top 40 radio shows, Besa Gordon has been hosting iHeartRadio’s HITS 106.1 weeknight and Sunday shows since October 2022. From her start as a blogger, to joining iHeartRadio’s street team, to becoming an award-winning media personality and digital manager at Black media production company Converge Media, Gordon has come a long way to establish herself as one of the most recognizable voices on Seattle’s radio waves. 

Born and raised in Seattle, Gordon’s journey with radio began in 2015, when she started working with the street team for Seattle station KUBE 93.3, a job she describes as “doing all the stuff that has to get done but that nobody wants to do.” After seven years of tabling countless events and concert promotions in the streets of Seattle, Gordon became the full-time host of a prime spot in Seattle’s radio scene, covering Top 40, a genre that includes the pop chart’s 40 most popular songs. 

Gordon explains that in the context of the internet age, being a host incorporates much more than just using your voice. “The biggest challenge in doing a full-time radio show is [that] before you actually get to it, you have to be prepared,” said Gordon. “You have to create your own show notes, you have to talk about this contest or … promotion going on. So [you] need to mention this maybe once an hour or two times a show. Those are some of your preliminary things that you just have no choice but to do.” 

At iHeartRadio, podcasting, blogging, and having a social media presence is also part of the host’s job. Being on the radio also means creating your own persona, representing the station beyond the speakers on social media and in day-to-day activities, and making the station’s brand your brand. 

Having successfully met these expectations, Gordon seeks to inspire others and open doors for individuals who dream of working in radio. Through her media mixers, she uplifts the work of local media professionals, content creators, and business owners, and she shares skills on how to use social media for your own benefit. 

“I do hope that the next generation of Black girls, especially from Seattle, know that there’s a spot for us,” even if aspiring hosts might not get their desired position or genre right away, Gordon said.

“I do hope that the next generation of Black girls, especially from Seattle, know that there’s a spot for us,” even if aspiring hosts might not get their desired position or genre right away, Gordon said. (Photo courtesy of Besa Gordon.)

Gordon acknowledges that as one of the few Black women among her peers, she bears the weight of covering the Black cultural scene in the greater Seattle area almost by herself. This is yet another reason why she hopes to create even more space for women like her. 

“It’s not going to be an easy job, but it’s a fun one, it’s worth it,” said Gordon. “If you want to go for it, go for it. Just be ready to put in the work and possibly be ready to start in a position that you don’t actually want to start [in]. My biggest advice is to find the program director that’s on this radio station that you want to be on, and somehow, some way, get in their face and be like, ‘Yo, how do I get on the radio?’ Because that’s what I did.”

Gordon is on air Monday through Friday, 7 p.m. to midnight, and on Sundays, 3 to 7 p.m., at HITS 106.1.

Victor Simoes is an international student at the University of Washington pursuing a double degree in journalism and photo/media. Originally from Florianópolis, Brazil, they enjoy radical organizing, hyper pop, and their beloved cats. Their writing focuses on community, arts, and culture. You can find them on Instagram or Twitter at @victorhaysser.

📸 Featured Image: Besa Gordon in the recording booth hosting her show at iHeartRadio’s HITS 106.1 (Photo courtesy of iHeartRadio Seattle.)

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