LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings

CamiCavanaughRawlingsPic_omeka.jpg

Title

LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings

Subject

Queer Omaha Archives
Sexual minorities -- Nebraska -- Omaha
Interviews
Oral Histories (document genres)

Description

Click here to access the interview, LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings

Ms. Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings, Omaha radio personality, musician and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on September 14, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. Cavanaugh-Rawlings shared information about her upbringing in Ralston, her family's rejection of her sexuality, her extensive career in the Omaha radio industry and eventual departure, playing in numerous local rock bands, finding out more about her Mexican background, her process of becoming sober, and her relationship with wife, Shell. 
Biographical Sketch

Ms. Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings, born in College Park, Georgia, is a Latina, lesbian woman, musician, LGBTQ+ advocate, and long-time Omaha radio professional. Cavanaugh-Rawlings attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma from 1986-1988, and then transferred to UNO from 1988-1992. After leaving UNO, Cavanaugh-Rawlings went on to work in the Omaha radio industry for more than 20 years, and has worked for Metro Networks (1995-2005), Waitt Radio Networks (2005-2010), Journal Broadcast Group (2006-2007), Clear Channel Omaha (2007-2011), and E.W. Scripps Media (2011-2016), holding various positions like assistant director of operations, producer, and on-air talent. Most notably, Cavanaugh-Rawlings is behind the instantly-recognizable voice of Omaha’s beloved “Cami Carlisle,” the alias she used as traffic reporter for 5 different Omaha radio stations for nearly a decade (2007-2016). In 2017, Cavanaugh-Rawlings left the radio industry and is now Membership Coordinator at Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, a non-profit that provides training and support for local progressive organizations to impact local and state public policy. 
Cavanaugh-Rawlings has also been a powerful force within Omaha’s music community since the early 1990’s, booking and playing shows with her former bands Lavender Couch, Foil, Sugarburn, Goodbye Sunday, Lesbian Bus Crash, and her current band, Bathtub Maria. Over the years, her bands have opened for Ani Difranco, The Murmurs, and Joan Osborne. In 2017, Bathtub Maria was nominated for Best New Local Band by the Omaha Entertainment and Arts Awards. When she isn’t playing shows or working, Cavanaugh-Rawlings serves as a committee member on the Omaha Community Foundation’s Equality Fund, a grant program that provides support to LGBTQIA+ causes. Cavanaugh-Rawlings lives in Omaha with her wife, Shell.
Interview Summary

Ms. Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings, Omaha radio personality, musician and LGBTQ+ advocate, was interviewed by Luke Wegener on September 14, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. Cavanaugh-Rawlings was born in College Park, Georgia in the late 1960’s and is the oldest of two girls. After moving to Ralston with her family at a young age, Cavanaugh-Rawlings began to come into her lesbian identity, which was not accepted by her family. She was treated poorly, rejected, and told to keep her sexuality a secret from extended family members. As a result, Cavanaugh-Rawlings began drinking heavily in her adolescence and attempted suicide many times. During this time, Cavanaugh-Rawlings drew strength from playing and writing music, and receiving support from her LGBTQ+ friends, sneaking into gay clubs, and hanging out in Omaha’s Old Market.

After graduating from Ralston High School in 1986, Cavanaugh-Rawlings attended Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma from 1986-1988 and then transferred to UNO, where she studied for the next four years. Cavanaugh-Rawlings left UNO in 1992 just one class away from earning her BA in Communications. Throughout the 1990s, Cavanaugh-Rawlings played in several bands, such as Lavender Couch, her all-lesbian rock band that opened up for Ani Difranco in a small house show sometime around 1994, as well as The Murmurs. Cavanaugh-Rawlings has played in several other bands over the years, such as Sugarburn, Goodbye Sunday, Lesbian Bus Crash, and her current band, Bathtub Maria.

While playing shows throughout the 1990s and 2000s, Cavanaugh-Rawlings was a radio personality, producer and director for various radio companies, such as Metro Networks (1995-2005), Waitt Radio Networks (2005-2010), Journal Broadcast Group (2006-2007), Clear Channel Omaha (2007-2011), and E.W. Scripps Media (2011-2016). Most notably, Cavanaugh-Rawlings is behind the instantly-recognizable voice of Omaha’s beloved “Cami Carlisle,” the alias she used as traffic reporter for 5 different Omaha radio stations for nearly a decade (2007-2016). In 2017, Cavanaugh-Rawlings left the radio industry due to low pay, sexism and stress, and is now membership coordinator at Coalition for a Strong Nebraska, a non-profit that provides training and support for local progressive organizations to impact local and state public policy. 

In 2012, Cavanaugh-Rawlings ended an unhealthy marriage of 17 years, and eventually began dating her long-time friend and fellow musician, Shell. They married in 2015, and in November 2016, Cavanaugh-Rawlings became sober after decades of struggling with alcoholism. In the 20 years since her father’s death, Cavanaugh-Rawlings’ mother and sister have become much more accepting of her lesbian identity. However, after the 2016 election of President Trump, Cavanaugh-Rawlings is no longer in contact with her immediate family.

In this interview, Cavanaugh-Rawlings also discusses her Mexican background, sexism, and homophobia in the radio industry, and the dissolution of her first marriage.
Interview Notes

Trigger warning for suicide, death, and substance abuse. 

Date

2018 September 14

Interviewer

Luke Wegener

Duration

01:55:30

Citation

“LGBTQ+ Voices: Interview with Cami Cavanaugh-Rawlings,” Omaha Stories: Oral Histories of Omaha, Nebraska, accessed November 18, 2018, https://omahastories.omeka.net/items/show/241.

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