- Rane Sykes with her WPGC Home Team co-host DJ Flexx (Photo courtesy of Rane Sykes)
Ranelle Sykes, better known as WPGC radio personality Rane, regularly interviews celebrities as part of her job, and lately she says she has new understanding of the public scrutiny they face.
"I'm used to being in the public eye, but [for radio hosts] it's not about you. Now, I see how they feel," says the Home Team host, who has been with the station for nearly 11 years.
Sykes has received new attention lately for filing a wage discrimination suit against WPGC, the Lanham, Md.-based urban format radio station that employs her. Sykes alleges that, under Maryland's equal pay act, she should be making a salary comparable to that of her co-host, DJ Flexx. (CBS Radio, WPGC's parent company, is listed as the defendant in her filing.)
Sykes, who initially filed her suit in P.G. County Circuit Court earlier this summer, submitted an amended filing on July 6. She is also awaiting a determination from an EEOC complaint she filed earlier this year.
Last spring, during a period of contract negotiation, Skyes first learned that that her co-host, DJ Flexx, was making significantly more money, she says. Skyes alleges that when she asked for a pay bump, CBS Radio said she could have one only if Flexx voluntarily took a pay cut.
"He was distraught, I was distraught, it was uncomfortable, it was awkward," she says. "I said, 'Flexx, you have a wife, a daughter in college, it's not your job to determine my salary — you don’t sign my checks."
Skyes didn't sign a contract last year, and hasn't been under contract with the station since, she says.
"It's strange how it happened, but after that situation, I was obviously aware that I didn't make as much money as he did," she says.
"[The station] has been very adamant, very clear all along that they wanted us both on the show," she continues. "They never wanted one of us without the other, they say that we 'balance each other out.' Well, why aren't our paychecks balanced?"
Although Sykes is fighting a salary discrepancy between herself and Flexx, she wants to make it clear that CBS Radio is the focus of her suit, and that she has no issue with her co-host.
"It's not about him," she says of Flexx. "If it were up to him I’d be making a lot more. I didn’t want people to think that this is something between Flexx and I — people try to make it into something it’s not. This is about CBS."
Sykes, who in addition to being a radio host has a J.D. from George Washington University, says she finally decided to file suit when she was approached about re-signing a contract again this year. "It was less than a year later, and they still didn’t want to give me any more money, so, at that time, I was like, 'this is ridiculous,'" she says. "At that point, I was fed up. I knew I was going to have to say something — I can’t accept this. That’s when I talked to my attorney, filed an EEOC complaint, and then also filed the lawsuit.
"This isn't a situation where I came to anyone's show — we were billed as the 'Home Team' from the beginning," she continues. "For 11 years, this hasn't been my show or Flexx's show — we both contribute equally. For him to be making 30+ thousand dollars a year more than me, I want justification for that. He got here through DJing, I went the college route. He only got to the station a year before me, so I want to know why they haven't been able to provide me with information on how they determine salary."
Although news of the lawsuit has listeners talking, Skyes says the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. "So many women! It’s amazing the responses I’ve been getting," she says. "People like [radio personality] Olivia Fox, people I grew up listening to, are saying 'You know what, Rane? It's about time, because women in urban radio haven’t been getting fair shake.'"
DJ Flexx did not respond to an e-mail request for comment; CBS Radio spokesperson Karen Mateo says the company has not been served with a suit and declined to comment.