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WARM98's Amanda Orlando wins her third Gracie Award

Amanda Orlando hosts mornings on WRRK-FM (98.5 mHz).
Courtesy Amanda Orlando

Longtime Cincinnati radio personality says it's nice to be honored 'in an industry traditionally dominated by more masculine voices.'

WRRM-FM morning host Amanda Orlando wasn’t expecting to win a third Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation, the nonprofit organization supporting women across all media segments.

“I work really hard, but was still so stunned to have won a third time,” says Orlando, who won two Gracie Awards while co-hosting WARM 98’s mornings with Jim Day. She now works solo, with Day hosting mornings on Cumulus sister station WGRR-FM since after the retirement of Chris O’Brien and Janeen Coyle.

“To have won it for a show that I host is extra special,” says the Delhi Township resident.

The Gracie Awards — named after comedian Gracie Allen, the comic foil for husband George Burns in the popular Burns & Allen team — this year honored “Feminine Strength, both Large and Small.”

Orlando is in good company. The national winners include Michelle Obama, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Nicole Kidman, Gayle King, Deborah Roberts, Maria Shriver, The Kelly Clarkson Show, Yellowjackets, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and NBC’s Today show. Networks represented among the national winners are ABC, CNN, CBS, ESPN, NBC, BBC, Prime Video, FX, Netflix, Disney, Showtime, Hulu, Hallmark Mystery, HBO, PBS and Paramount+.

Amanda Orlando ties a baseball balloon onto the WARM98 van before the 2019 Opening Day parade.
John Kiesewetter
Amanda Orlando ties a baseball balloon onto the WARM98 van before the 2019 Opening Day parade.

Local market winners include Cleveland’s Ideastream Public Media for its “Ohio After Roe” program. They will be honored June 18 in New York City.

Orlando, a 1991 University of Kentucky graduate, has been heard on Cincinnati radio for more than 30 years. She worked for Traffic Watch 1994-95, then for WUBE-FM, WYGY-FM, WNNF-FM and WRRM-FM. She’s worked with Big Dave, Bill Whyte and Smith before getting her own show.

“I've learned so much from everyone I've worked with over the years. Each taught me something that I've carried through to the next job and I feel blessed to have worked with so many talented men and women throughout my career,” she says.

The daughter of an Air Force officer, Orlando attended high school in Palos Verdes, Calif., and in Chelmsford, Mass. She studied two years at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before switching to UK.

Amando Orlando came to Cincinnati in 1991.
Kim Dalton
Courtesy Amanda Orlando
Amando Orlando came to Cincinnati in 1991.

“I transferred to a place where I thought it wouldn't snow after Easter and I wanted a new place that I had never lived before. It wasn't until I got to Lexington that it dawned on me that I didn't actually know anyone and didn't even have my family nearby, but I grew to deeply love everything about Lexington,” she says.

She “fell into radio by accident” doing a public relations internship at WLFX-FM while at UK.

“They didn't have any women on the air and offered me overnights, but I would stay on for the morning show with Lee Cruse. Mornings were so much fun and so creative that I was instantly hooked,” she says.

After WFLX-FM was sold, she moved to Cincinnati with her boyfriend at the time. Her previous boss put in a good word for her with his Cincinnati radio friends and she ended up at Traffic Watch. She did weekday and weekend reporting shifts, answering phones, doing promotions and helping in the commercial scheduling department — almost everything but sales.

While on a radio trip to the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan sponsored by Coca-Cola, she met Big Dave, who had just lost his radio job in Tennessee.

“I told him he should come and work with me and at Y96 (WYGY-FM). I always joke that he followed me home,” Orlando says about Big Dave, now the morning host on WUBE-FM (B105).

Orlando and her husband David own Greater Cincinnati's Assisted Living Locators franchise. They have two children: Athena, a freshman at Xavier University; and Parker, a freshman at the School for Creative & Performing Arts.

"It's such an honor to be recognized by my peers and to represent women in an industry traditionally dominated by more masculine voices,” Orlando says. “While men bring a definite skill set, it's nice to see women getting recognition for the contributions we bring to the table as well.”

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.