Former WVON talk show host and news director Sharon McGhee, 54, died on Tuesday Sept. 11 after a long battle with cancer.
WVON talk show host Cliff Kelley paid tribute to her life and legacy on his show last week. The station’s, President/CEO Melody Spann-Cooper, released a statement about McGhee, read by Kelley on his Wednesday show: “WVON respectfully announces the passing of one of our own WVON former news director, Sharon McGhee, has made her transition…Our hearts and prayers go out to the McGhee family.”
Kelley recalled 11-years-ago when he and McGhee watched the destruction of the World Trade Center building. Kelley last Wednesday told his listeners that he was just thinking about her that week. McGhee was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She learned of her stage 4 diagnosis just three weeks before receiving a phone call offering her a role on the Real Housewives of Atlanta reality TV series.
McGhee fought her ovarian cancer for more than three-years, but used her illness as a teaching tool. The St. Louis native traveled the country to talk about this disease many only whisper about.
She referred to her disease as “cancer in your pocketbook,” a reference to an old-fashion term used by many African-American mothers to describe their daughter’s private part. Black mothers would tell their daughters to “keep your pocketbook closed.” It was part of the birds and bees lessons they taught their daughters, about the importance of chastity and maintaining their sexual purity until marriage.
Inspired by that message, McGhee created The Pocketbook Monologues, her spin on the popular The Vagina Monologues. McGhee’s comedy stage play gave women of color the opportunity to tell their stories about their sexuality.
Sharon K. McGhee was born in St. Louis on June 19, 1958. She was the news director for WVON radio, and before coming to Chicago hosted the highly-rated morning talk show, Good Morning St. Louis.
McGhee won the coveted Achievement in Radio (AIR) Award twice in her career, including for her five-part, WVON series on breast cancer.