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Women’s History Month: Lady litigator aka radio personality

With two professions and two different names, Bowers  J. Bowers, aka Toni St. James, embodies the possibility of achieving more than one dream in a lifetime.
 
 Carlee McCullough

Toni St. James is to Bevanne (pronounced beh‘Von) J. Bowers what Sasha Fierce is to Beyoncé.

For those of you not familiar with Sasha Fierce, that’s Superstar Beyoncé’s on stage alter ego. And as a radio personality, Bowers, a lawyer, is known as Toni St. James. Or simply Toni, as her radio fans call her.

With two professions and two different names, Bowers, aka Toni, embodies the possibility of achieving more than one dream in a lifetime.

Carlee McCullough: You are the original “Sasha Fierce.”

Bevanne J. Bowers: That’s funny.  Now, if I only had the singing voice to go with it.

C.M.: Who is Toni St. James and how did she come about?  

B.J.B.: Toni St. James was co-created by the radio programmer who first hired me here in Memphis.  He wanted the new Midday girl to be named “Toni” because it was easy to recognize and remember, he thought my real name was too different. But he was leaning toward Toni Michaels. I finally convinced him that I could pick a great last name. So I was sitting in Connecticut, going through a phone book for names, and the TV show “Kate and Allie” was on, with Susan St. James. I was in the “S” section of the phone book. So I thought hmm... Toni St. James... And it had a ring to it.

C.M.: How long have you been on air?

 
 Bevanne J. Bowers aka Toni St. James

B.J.B.:
I started as the youngest announcer in my hometown of St. Louis.  It was the night before I graduated from high school in 1981.

C.M.: Who was your inspiration?

B.J.B.: In all things… my mother, Rose Marie Bowers. She was the best person I’ve ever known.   

The law

C.M.: Now let’s talk about Bevanne Bowers.

B.J.B.: Ok...know her well.

C.M.: How did you make the transition from radio to law school student first of all?

B.J.B.: I wouldn’t call it a transition, it was more of an overlap. I was music director for what was then Magic 101 here in Memphis and I saw countless local artists who would come in with their music having signed supposed “contracts” that weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Also, I was seeing how the radio industry was changing and in many ways downsizing, and I wanted to remain viable.  The promotions director of the station, Pam Kelly, made a bet with me about if we both could get into law school.  We both got into the University of Memphis and University of Mississippi law schools.

C.M.: As an attorney what are your areas of concentration?

B.J.B.: Entertainment law, family law (divorce and child custody and support), Juvenile Court matters, and criminal.

C.M.: What do you see in juvenile court that you would like to speak on?

B.J.B.: I see dedicated attorneys who are Juvenile Defenders fighting to ensure the rights of our accused children. I see Juvenile Court officers who want to work with children and their families to address issues correcting disruptive and illegal behavior. What I’d like to see are more parents, school and community efforts to reach our kids before they cross the threshold of Juvenile Court.

C.M.: If you could get a “do over,” what would it be?

B.J.B.: I would look to prepare a bit more for running a small business from the business end. Learning on the job was at times, costly.

C.M.: As a lawyer in private practice, what are the challenges and the positives?

B.J.B.: The positives are you never know what type of case will walk through your door next. And also, just because the case walks in doesn’t mean you should necessarily keep it. I also appreciate the flexibility of setting my own schedule.  The challenges include keeping business coming in, especially in this economy, and also health care coverage.  

C.M.: Do you have any advice for those seeking to enter the legal field?

B.J.B.: If it is something you really want to do, then GO FOR IT! Talk to practicing attorneys, find out what it’s really like. Everyone doesn’t necessarily want to litigate cases. There are many opportunities for those with law degrees.  Learn the options.   

C.M.: Do you have any closing thoughts or words?

B.J.B.: Thanks for this opportunity. It’s been fun!

(Please send your questions to Carlee McCullough, Esq., Contract Compliance Officer, City of Memphis-Office of Contract Compliance, 125 N. Main St., Suite 546, Memphis, TN 38103 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

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