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The Queen of Cable Access

'Inspirational Moments with Winifred' celebrates two years of its three-ring circus

By Tracie Broom

Like Cher, Prince and Sting, Winifred needs not a last name; her fame as cable-access talk-show queen succeeds her. For two years Winifred has graced the 11:30am slot on San Francisco's cable Channel 53 with her hour-long call-in show. Hosting local gospel choirs and New Age jazz groups for the oft-lengthy musical segment, Winifred holds court at her desk with an array of guests and offers up quoted pearls of sass and wisdom to her studio audience. Every so often she cracks jokes and asks if anyone in the audience knows any older single men. "He must have a true BMW, not my kind of BMW: BART-Muni-Walking."

Caveat cynic: Winifred's show is the Bay Area hub of anti-cynicism. "I see a lot of rudeness around, and I don't like it. I want to make sure that I never treat anyone badly." It's just no good to tune in with a sarcastic ear. Regardless of the syrupy sweetness permeating every waffled minute of the proceedings, Winifred's show rejoices in the inherent goodness of humanity and all of that other enlightened Christian stuff. It's nice. It's low-pro, with the production values endemic in public-access TV, but Winifred aspires higher. "I see myself going national--syndicated in the year 2000."

In its interview segments, Inspirational Moments is usually a cottony cloud of PR and mutual admiration with wedding planners and webmasters, activists and editors, makeup artists and ministers, but sometimes things get exciting. It's hard to know what to do when things get weird; one recent guest tensed up the whole studio by noting that only natural-born Americans had a right to benefit from a proposed national humanitarian bank. One never knows what surprises Winifred will pull from the sleeve of her red dress suit.

What's beyond Inspirational Moments for Winifred? "I would like to be married to someone, not working, finishing my novel, sitting by the beach at my home in Negril, Jamaica, with painted toenails and a piña colada, enjoying life." Winifred is, if anything, truly full of life.

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From the November 8, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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