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BY KEVIN “KEVROSS” ROSS RADIO FACTS/CEO
A.D. Washington: A True Industry Legacy Originally, I had written a completely different editorial that I had posted and the magazine was ready to be printed. Then I heard about the death of industry legend A.D. Washington and I had to stop the presses to write about his legacy. As we get older, we learn that what is most important becomes paramount over all else and the truth is, if it wasn’t for the support of industry people like A.D. Washington, Radio Facts would not be here. A.D. saw my vision, believed in it and supported it. A.D. was a classic records man with more than 25 A.D. Washington years in the promotion and marketing game. Hailing from Little Rock, Arkansas, he moved from regional promotions to senior management, including a notable run as Senior VP of Promotion at MCA Records during a boom period for R&B Music; he also held top posts at Warner Bros. and Capitol Records. I have never worked directly with A.D. as he worked on the record side, but he was a client. I always enjoyed his conversations when he would call me to book ads from Capitol Records. He loved the word “Fantastic” and said it multiple times during our conversations. “Fan … TAS ... tic” he would say repeatedly; I don’t recall one conversation where he said anything negative about any single person. I learned a lot from him about the industry during those conversations, too. I am convinced that the old saying, “Only the good die young,” is true; when they leave us, they have often served the universe with a life well-lived, regardless of how short their time with us. I have never heard anyone say one foul thing about A.D. Everybody liked him and respected him and he will be missed. What is most striking about A.D.’s untimely death to me is that when he passed, he had been doing what he did best: Unselfishly helping others. This time A.D. was caring for his aging father, whose health has been failing. For those in the midst of it, including myself, caretaking is no joke and it can put an incredible weight on the person doing it. I don’t know for certain if this was a factor, but I am reminded of how important it is to take care of ourselves if we are to be here for others. Stress is no joke and we must be keenly aware that we are only capable of doing so much. If you are under 40, enjoy your life to the fullest because the “sandwich” years are coming. These are the years when we are pulled in every direction, from work to our aging parents to our children to own retirement years.
PUBLISHER: RMI Publishing Inc. EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: Kevin Ross
PLAY LIST 2017
CONTRIBUTORS: Hassahn Liggins, Dwayne McClary, Coka Lani, Cameron Penny, A. Scott Galloway, Janine Coveney. PRODUCTION DESIGN: Geoff Hulme, Kevin Ross PHOTOGRAPHY: (various) ADVERTISING ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Kevin Ross email@example.com
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RHYTHMIC.FM (Rhythmic) www.rhythmic.fm PODCAST PORT (Urban Podcast Site) www.podcastport.com
CHARLAMAGNE | 16 TOM JOYNER | 28
I dedicate this issue to A.D. Washington: A great industry legend whose greatest joy came from helping others succeed. A.D., thank you for your leadership and for being a positive force in the industry. I hope that I have done my part in immortalizing your legacy in this issue of Radio Facts, which celebrates the first annual Power Play List of new industry legends. I can only hope that 50 years from now, someone’s greatgrandchild will find this magazine in an attic or museum or hanging on a wall and see how vital you were to our industry.
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PHIL THORNTON | 30
MICHAEL BAISDEN | 34
JESSE COLLINS | 36 RADIO FACTS - WINTER 2017 | 5
RADIO CORPORATION OF THE YEAR By Dwayne McClary
“MS. HUGHES TOOK THE MUTE BUTTON OFF OF BLACK AMERICA” Reverend Al Sharpton
s Radio Facts celebrates the first annual Power Play List 2017 Magazine, we are proud to name Radio One the Radio Corporation of the Year. And in doing so, it would be impossible not to also recognize and honor the organization’s Chairman and Founder, Cathy Hughes.
Cathy Hughes Photo Credit: Kal Yee
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The name of Cathy Hughes is synonymous with Radio One and all the corporation’s respective properties. Radio Facts CEO Kevin Ross says, “Radio One’s commitment to the community is unsurpassed. No one is more driven and giving; nor has anyone shown such unwavering commitment to returning the love to her culture and people as Ms. Hughes.” It is behind the vision, the hard work, the dedication to music and media that this remarkable woman, Cathy Hughes, has built this successful radio conglomerate. Radio One—which currently owns 56 stations in 16 markets, including highly respected stations such as WHTA Atlanta; WERQ Baltimore; KBXX Houston; WPHI Philadelphia; and WKYS Washington, D.C.—is an industry leader and the largest African-Americanowned broadcasting company in the world. At its peak, Radio One’s radio roster included 70 stations in 22 markets around the nation. Hughes is also the first African-American woman to chair a publicly held company, listed on the NASDAQ exchange. Radio One currently has more than $1 billion in assets and
reaches 20 million listeners. It was through many years of unparalleled success in broadcasting that Hughes earned the (very) fitting nickname, “Queen of Radio.” Actor Anthony Anderson of the hit comedy series Black-ish describes Hughes as more than just a radio powerhouse. “She is a pioneer, an innovator, and a philanthropist with a big heart,” he says. When asked what her ultimate goal was in forming Radio One, Hughes replied, “To give a voice to my community. I felt that our opinions, desires, needs, likes, and dislikes were not being adequately addressed, except by Black newspapers on a weekly basis or Black magazines on a monthly basis. We needed a daily outlet to talk about what’s important. My mantra is ‘information is power,’ and unfortunately, by the time Black folks got the information, it was Black history, not current events.” Hughes built this media masterpiece from the ground up. It was her passion and resilience that enabled her to get Radio One going in a highly competitive broadcasting landscape. As she sought financing to purchase her first radio station, WOL, in 1980, Hughes was turned down by 32 banks before finally securing a loan. Her first station was a financial disaster for seven years, which ultimately led to homelessness and forced her to sleep on the station floor. But in the midst of these hard times, this determined young lady refused to give up. She told naysayers and detractors, “Do you think I’m going to let this fail when I’m sleeping in sleeping bags and washing up in a public bathroom? Never! Never! Never! I’m giving it my all.”
intensely and passionately on her best days as she does on her worst days. Cathy encourages Christian believers to “pray five times per day for peace. Peace in your life. Peace in your spirit. Peace in your family. Peace in your community. And peace in this world.” Prayer has helped her over some rough moments in her career, including having her car repossessed at one point. Yet Hughes is no stranger to humble beginnings; at one time she lived in the Logan Fontenelle housing projects in Omaha, Neb., with a family of six and one bathroom. It was in this same bathroom, at 8 years of age, that Hughes would practice her own radio show in front of the mirror with a toothbrush for a microphone as the other members of the household banged on the door to get in. “I realized then that I wanted to be in radio,” Hughes says. One of Hughes’ biggest contributions to radio programming was the creation of the popular format called The Quiet Storm, which is still a staple of Urban radio today. In the mid-1970s, while serving as station manager at Howard University’s WHUR, The Quiet Storm became a show of chilled-out, soothing songs hosted by a velvet-voiced on-air personality. It became a soundtrack for single people on weekends who wanted to have some fun. “Washington, D.C., had a sizable population of single, unattached young people who still wanted to feel good about a Friday or a Saturday night, even if they were home by themselves, so I structured this format,” Hughes told NPR radio.
Hughes has advice about dealing with anyone—including a loved one—who attempts to discourage you from achieving your goal. She says you should not let anyone convince you that your dream, or your vision to be an entrepreneur, is something that you shouldn’t do. “What often happens is that people who are well-meaning, who really care for us, are afraid for us and talk us out of it,” she says.
For 11 years of her illustrious radio career, Hughes also hosted the innovative forum-style program “24 Hour Talk from the Black Perspective.” The show’s theme was “information is power.” In addition to influencing its programming, Hughes also impacted WHUR’s sales as she grew its annual revenue from $250 thousand to $3 million in her first year. Not only did Hughes make a difference in the music side of radio, she made a difference in the talk side as well. “I’m in the Black people business,” Hughes says. “I came to inform as well as entertain.”
This spiritually grounded woman insists that prayer is at the foundation, center, and core of her life. “You have to believe in God,” she says, “and once you’re able to believe in Him, embrace the greatness of the Creator, and then you’re able to believe in yourself and embrace the greatness that God put into you and each of us, and you’re able to tap into that.” She practices praying as
“Ms. Hughes took the mute button off of Black America,” says civil rights leader and on-air personality the Reverend Al Sharpton of Hughes’ impact. “We were on mute, we couldn’t talk. She made talk radio stations, she preserved our culture; she gave us TV One. We can speak for ourselves, to ourselves, and it’s an enormous contribution to our people.”
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In 2004, Hughes expanded her broadcasting brand with the creation of TV One. At the time of its launch, the network was in only 2.2 million homes, and within the last 13 years, Hughes was able to grow that total to more than 60 million. Hughes’ vision for the channel was to “tell stories about how African-American life unfolds and distinguish it from a growing number of competitors.” It was through such beloved series as Unsung, News One with Roland Martin, and original TV movies that Hughes has been able to effectively tell these stories. By 2015, TV One had become the only minority-owned, general-interest television network in the country.
One in 1985, handling the company’s sales and promotions. Two years later, due to his success in the role, he was promoted to General Manager of WOL and WMMJ. In 1989, under Liggins’ supervision, both stations were deemed profitable, and he was appointed President, Director, and Treasurer of Radio One. Hughes had promised her son that when he earned a college degree, she would turn the company over to him. Liggins far exceeded his mother’s expectations when he received an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s highly respected Wharton Business School. Hughes made good on her end of the deal and named her son CEO in 1997.
Hughes has stated that even though she has expanded into other media—namely television and print—radio is still her favorite. Asked why she continues to have such a strong affinity for radio, she says, “Radio provides instant gratification. We could go on air and say that a family is in need and immediately get people responding and being of assistance to them. Radio gives you the ability to reach out and assist immediately.”
In addition to being able to display this Radio Facts honor in a frame on her mantel, Hughes has also received countless lifetime achievement awards, including the Ida B. Wells Living Legacy Award; the NAACP Chairman’s Award; the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Chair’s Phoenix Award; the Essence Women Shaping the World Award; ADCOLOR Lifetime Achievement Award; the Uncommon Height of Excellence Award; the Madam C.J. Walker Award for Entrepreneurship; and induction into the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame. Ms. Hughes also sits on the boards of such prestigious organizations as BMI, the Congressional Black Caucus, and The Piney Woods School. In fact, The Piney Woods School in Piney Woods, Mississippi, was established by her grandfather in 1909 and is the largest of only four African-American boarding schools in the country.
In an effort to more accurately define all the properties and platforms that exist under the Radio One umbrella, Hughes’ company changed its moniker to Urban One in May 2017. The brand comprises three components: The Radio One radio station division, which also includes Reach Media; TV One; and Interactive One. As the digital arm of the company, Interactive One covers websites and online publishing. Some of the digital brands within the Interactive One online portfolio have included News One, in partnership with NBC’s property The Grio; Hello Beautiful; Global Grind, which was founded by Russell Simmons; and HB Studios. Interactive One reaches more than 20 million unique monthly users and is the largest network of Black-owned-and-operated sites targeted to the African-American audience. Hughes feels that in order to establish a credible media company, you must do your research—not only when creating a start-up company, but even when you’re fully operational. As she recently told Black Enterprise, “We’re a very research-oriented company. In a tight year, we spend $1 million on research. It’s very important to me. One of the critical errors that the media has made in relationship to African Americans, even with Black media, [is that] we’ve told our audiences what we thought was important to them. [At Urban One] we’ve always done it in reverse—we’ve always asked them.” She concludes the interview by saying, “Research! And don’t be afraid to ask questions. No question is dumb. You have to do whatever is necessary to seek knowledge because information is power.” The leadership qualities and skill set that Hughes has demonstrated have also been passed down to her son, Alfred C. Liggins III, who joined Radio
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Actress, dancer, and director Debbie Allen, who is also a Howard alum, said, “Young AfricanAmericans should come here to receive training in the communications industry, as the school is equipped with both television and radio stations while under the inspiration of Cathy Hughes and all that she has accomplished.” This is not the first time Howard University has honored Ms. Hughes. In 2005, the school awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters for her work and achievement as an African American entrepreneur. This is quite an accolade for Hughes, who attended the University of Nebraska in Omaha as well as Creighton University, but didn’t complete her undergraduate degree. As the namesake of the communications school, Hughes offers the following advice to Howard students and others aspiring to pursue a career in the field: “You should be learning everything you can about your craft. You should be attempting to meet with everyone that you’ve identified as doing what you would like to do in your career. Network, go to various conferences, and read everything you can get your hands on about individuals who are accomplished. I probably know as much about Oprah as her staff because I read every single, solitary thing. If I see her name, I read it.” Kevin Ross concludes, “There’s no question or doubt as to why Radio Facts selected Ms. Hughes for this distinction. We unanimously agreed that there’s no player more powerful than Radio One and Ms. Cathy Hughes, not only in the music industry but in the media globally. And that’s a Radio Fact!” RF
Last year, Hughes received perhaps one of the highest honors of her life when, as part of its 45th-anniversary celebrations, Howard University announced that its School of Communications would henceforth be known as the Cathy Hughes School of Communications. This was the very same school whose affiliated station, WHUR, gave Cathy her start in Washington, D.C., radio. Hughes, who serves as the school’s third official Time Warner Chair, will be working closely with the communications department to design a progressive curriculum and to acquire the stateof-the-art technology and equipment needed to advance its academically Award-winning actor Anthony Anderson takes a selfie with Radio One, rich programs. She has Inc., Founder and Chairperson Cathy Hughes and civil rights activist made a very generous and broadcast personality the Rev. Al Sharpton at the Cathy Hughes financial contribution School of Communications at Howard University Celebratory Brunch at to the school to help Howard University on Sunday October 23, 2016. support and redesign its Photo Credit: PR Newswire communications sector.
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POWER PLAY LIST 2017 PD OF THE YEAR
Hurricane Dave is an amazing PD. His love for the industry is evident and being in his presence is motivating. For the last eight years, he’s been in Atlanta at Radio One overseeing the programming department and operating strategies. A little over a year ago, he was promoted to Vice President of Programming and Operations, which put him over programming for Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Ed Lover Show, and the Radio One Richmond properties. A couple of years ago, I had a great conversation with Dave in his office where he told me he thought that, judging from my writing and my website, I hated Urban radio. I had to really think about that, and it hounded me for a while. And I realized he was right. I hated not being able to control the outcome of Urban radio and I hated that Black radio people seemed so complacent by not grabbing the bull by the horns and driving their careers. I’m glad he brought that to my attention because it was the catalyst to help me change and go in another direction, like appreciating industry people with the magazine instead of preaching and attacking the system.
ergy and, hopefully, they feed off my positivity and outlook on life. When I get off on the 12th floor every day, I acknowledge that “This is the greatest job— other than being a dad and a husband—you’re ever going to have.” What are your typical daily hours? My day generally starts at 5 a.m. I try to be up and be in the gym before the morning shows come on. I check emails, social media, and occasionally get a dose of Joel Osteen or T.D. Jakes. When 6 a.m. comes around, it’s the morning shows. I try to listen like a listener going through their morning routine. I’m usually in the office after 9 a.m. Some days are filled with meetings and conference calls—that’s one thing that’s changed a lot over the years. I still remember when a Program Director only had one radio station to manage. That seems like a whole other world these days, LOL. I’m usually in the office until 6:30. Since we’re in Atlanta, there’s always something going on in the evening: A concert, showcase, or networking event. So, my day may not end until 11:30 p.m. or 12 a.m. before I head home.
What do you say to the naysayers who think commercial radio is on its deathbed?
Is there a secret to balancing personal and professional life?
I laugh out loud when I hear those naysayers. Radio still reaches over 93 percent of the U.S. population every week. Terrestrial radio is moving to the digital spectrum with digital dashboards in cars, and streaming your radio station will be an absolute necessity in order to remain competitive. I’m not just talking about streaming on your station’s website—everyone does that. I’m talking about making sure your radio station is mobile and available on the dashboard as well as on mobile devices. It needs to be a great experience with entertainment and content, not just playing sound.
Ah! Young grasshopper, LOL, now that is The Question. I think it’s through trial and error that I figured that out. I learned the hard way that if you don’t have proper balance, you eventually will not have anything. As a young radio professional, married to the industry, but also with a wife and kids at home, I was more focused on my career path to ensure I could take care of my family. Huge mistake. While my intentions were good, my priorities were way out of line. Inevitably, one day you wake up and you don’t have family or career. That was totally devastating for me. While I’m still very much married to the game, nothing—and I mean nothing but God—comes before my family.
Your energy and dedication to the job are second to none. How do you motivate yourself? Thank you for that, Kevin. I genuinely love what I do. I wake up every day feeling blessed. I try to get a morning workout in most mornings while monitoring the morning shows. Then, when I get into the radio station, I’m surrounded by some of the very best in their fields. I feed off of their en-
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“WHILE I’M STILL VERY MUCH MARRIED TO THE GAME, NOTHING—AND I MEAN NOTHING BUT GOD—COMES BEFORE MY FAMILY.”
Make time to continue to date your wife like you did when you first met her. Make time to show up at your kids’ sporting events on the weekends and weeknights. Make sure they know, while you are married to the game, nothing comes before them. When you strike the right balance — and that can be a juggling act—you will be rewarded with the most amazing life.
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THEA MITCHEM EVP OF PROGRAMMING/NORTHEAST REGION/iHEART MEDIA PROGRAM DIRECTOR/WWPR (POWER 105) NEW YORK
R A D I O FA C T S P O W E R P L AY L I S T 2 0 1 7 You have done something that I have always said creates longevity. You have diversified your skills and worked in different areas of the industry. How has that experience prepared you for where you are now? I always tell people to learn other things other than your current position. The more you know, the more valuable you are to the company. If you’re working in a department, learn about the departments that support your department. Learn how to be a backup to someone in another area. Don’t step on anyone’s toes, but learn how radio stations function. If you’re only working in your own silo, you’re not going to be very valuable to any organization. There are many people over 40 who don’t feel like there are many opportunities left in radio. How do you feel about that? I think some of that is self-inflicted. If you spent your whole radio career only doing one thing, I have to ask, “What were you thinking?” I don’t want to sound insensitive. But it goes back to what I previously stated about making yourself more valuable to the company. As an example, I do a lot of grooming—both talent and managers—on how to be successful. I also do a lot of motion graphics for some of our biggest events in the company, like Birthday Bash. I don’t get paid a dime extra to do that, but I love every aspect of the business. I believe if you continue to stay on the cutting edge and stay a valuable asset to the company, age won’t matter. Hands down, one of the things I have been most impressed by is your commitment to social media. You have done an amazing job at using it to your greatest advantage. Was it difficult to learn? Why is it important? One of the requirements we have is that our talent utilizes social media platforms. My whole career I’ve been a lead-by-example type person. So, when that became a part of the business, I decided to get ahead of the curve and learn how to make it work. I post just about every day and encourage the talent that [social media] is their personal television brand in the palms of many people’s hands. That’s a medium where you get to write the narrative. With all this technology readily available, you have the ability to build your own brand or brands on social media. This technology makes it more advantageous than any time in history to establish yourself. Make it work for you. What an amazing time to be alive. I love it. I see that you are doing panel discussions and more to market yourself at events per-
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“RADIO STILL REACHES OVER 93 PERCENT OF THE U.S. POPULATION EVERY WEEK.”
HURRICANE DAVE VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMMING, RADIO ONE/ATLANTA
fail; the hidden hate game is also very real in my life, too. I know that sounds weird, but the old saying, “Everybody loves a winner,” is just not true. What do you want the take-away to be for your team members when they leave? What do you want them to say about your station and you? “Here’s a guy who is fair, positive, and always willing to teach anything about life and business to anyone looking to learn and grow.”
taining to the industry. How did this come about?
You work in a market with how many Urban outlets now?
I’m really a quiet guy, but people started asking me to be on panels, and then it took off from there and hopefully will turn into public speaking about life, the business of radio that I love so much, and success stories. I’ve come back from the dead more times than anybody that I know. I’ve also programmed more number-one radio stations than anybody I know. Obviously, some of that comes with the longevity that I’ve had in the business. Apparently, people want to hear about that, LOL.
There are about 80 radio stations that get into Atlanta. We have at least seven or eight that target the Urban audience and several Pop stations that play Urban music. This is the most competitive Urban landscape I have ever worked in. I’m proud of my brands—we’re always ranking at the top or very near the top in our demos.
Your team plays a big part in your social media strategy. How has that helped with overall station branding? Do more people know you on the street? Has it added to the sales opportunities, etc.?
The more people going after the same piece of pie can lead to a smaller piece for you. That’s the obvious disadvantage. I never really look at that side of things. I’m focusing on how can I get the large slices of that pie. Obviously, there’s gonna be some sharing going on, but when your product is so good, so amazing, community-connected and on point, you will get the larger portions of that pie every time.
My team absolutely plays a big part in my social media success. Everybody loves following successful people and brands. They find it inspiring and encouraging. When my team members are at the top of their game, we are number one. As far as local notoriety for me, I like to say Atlanta is the little big town. When I attend industry events in Atlanta, people obviously know who the Program Director of one of the biggest hip-hop stations in the world is. But I’m also smart enough not to believe your own hype or read your own press clippings like you’re the man. That’s a lesson I learned a long time ago. It’s really not about you, it’s about the seat that you’re currently sitting in. When you’re not sitting in that seat any longer, your environment will change. Hopefully, that day doesn’t happen. But if it does, one thing’s for sure, I’ll have my family and that’s what I treasure most. Social media, for the most part, has been great. Now, that also comes with some people who really want to see you
What are the advantages and the disadvantages of working in a market with so many competitors?
Competitors take us from good to great. I love the competition and the competitive nature of the business. Let’s face it, Atlanta is the most competitive Urban radio market in the country, if not the world. Thankfully, our Radio One brands are at the top or near the top most of the time, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I feel very blessed to be working with the amazing talent that we have in the suite. What do your stations bring to the market that trumps the competitors? I get that question asked a lot. When you have so many Hip-Hop stations, multiple Urban ACs, how was it your stations are winning? There’s an old saying, “The music is the star.” While that saying is still true, in
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Social media. How people consume radio is so different than it was 20 years ago. Everything’s digital, and if you plan on staying in the game, you need to learn everything you can. Let’s face it, the terrestrial signals won’t matter down the road. It also won’t matter how powerful your terrestrial signal is because everyone will be receiving radio digitally. I think there are more opportunities than people realize. They’re just not looking in the right areas.
Jay Stevens, SVP Programming, Radio One, Hurricane Dave, and Dave Kantor, CEO, Radio One Radio Division. Photo Credit: Radio One
What are some of your hobbies outside of the industry? I fly drones both personally and professionally. I’m also into motion graphics, mountain climbing, and I’m big on positive mental meditation. What do you want your industry legacy to be? There’s a guy who made the best of every situation. Gets kicked out of the cool club four separate times and every time came back in a bigger or better situation. A person who never stopped believing that being positive over negative wins every single time. A person who is infatuated with living life to the fullest. And most importantly, a person who has his priorities in order. God, then family, work and friends. In that order. RF some markets like Atlanta, it’s more than the music. If four Hip-Hop stations are playing the same songs, then it must be something different that makes one station rise above the rest. The majority of that is going to be the talent, the imaging place in between the songs, the right rotations in your song library, the image of your brand and what it stands for. Those are all determining factors when people decide which of these four radio stations that are playing the same music I’m going to spend the most time with.
“HOW PEOPLE CONSUME RADIO IS SO DIFFERENT THAT IT WAS 20 YEARS AGO. EVERYTHING’S DIGITAL, AND IF YOU PLAN ON STAYING IN THE GAME YOU NEED TO LEARN EVERYTHING YOU CAN.”
What are some of the ways that we can be better and more prepared as a radio industry? Stay on the cutting edge of your industry. Everything is going digital. The radio industry really missed out big time by not getting involved with radios being installed in the automobile industry. The few that did really capitalized on it. Most of the radio industry sat on the sidelines while the car industry put our radio stations on the third or fourth page of these digital dashboards. That’s a prime example of not staying on top of your industry. What are some of the opportunities that you think radio people should be taking more or less advantage of?
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Hurricane Dave meeting with DJ Silver Knight.
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POWER PLAY LIST 2017
RADIO HOST OF THE YEAR
Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
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Charlamagne tha God is an icon in the making, for the same reasons that make most icons: Being unapologetically himself and doing things on his own terms. This can be costly, especially early on in a career, which is often the reason that many potential icons give up or compromise their values. There are always people who don’t like you when you rock the boat or dare to stand on your own two feet because they can’t control or guide you at THEIR pace instead of your own. This dynamic has often been paramount (and unfortunate) within the urban radio industry, post-1980. A modernday Petey Green with a great sense of humor, Charlamagne is surprised by the public perception—after the release of his great New York Times bestselling book “Black Privilege”—that he’s considered “smart.” This revelation, and his reaction to it, speaks volumes not only about the way HE is/was perceived but also about the way Black men are often perceived in general. In our community, the smart kid is often the bullied kid, so dumbing down is a way to fit in—that is, for those who WANT to fit in. I’ve known Charlamagne for several years and I always knew he was a cut above the rest. Working in the New York market, you’d better be if you want to succeed. But what’s great about Charlamagne is that he is humble, he’s clear about his shortcomings and his strengths, and he’s wise beyond his years. For this issue, I learned a lot about him from several people, including the fact that he is widely respected; the most common thing I heard is that he does great things for people and doesn’t talk about it. Instead of writing about his beginnings here, I urge you to buy the book “Black Privilege.” There is an audio version (which I purchased) and he voiced it. I was able to catch up with the busy broadcaster and author recently for an in-depth talk about his career, the radio industry, and his success. Enjoy!
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Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
know you’ve got a lot of stuff to do, so I’m going to try to make this real brief. You had success with the book “Black Privilege” this year. What has changed after that?
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That’s a great question. I’ve had this conversation with Chris Rock a few times. I’ve had conversations with Chris Rock this year. And Chris Rock has really made a point, very simply, that, I think, sums it all up. And that point is: People think I’m smarter. Which is kind of weird. I would think that I’ve been doing radio all of these years, and doing my podcast all these years, and television all these years. I would think that people would know I’m not a dummy. I’m not an expert at anything, per se. And I am not, you know, the most academically sound person. I don’t think I’m a great intellectual. I’m an articulate person, but I’ve never been a dummy. But I think, for some reason, people think I am smarter. And I think they put me—I’ve seen, like, even on TMZ one day, I remember they said: “Radio personality, TV personality, Author, Activist.” I’m like, Activist? When did I become an Activist? So, it’s just weird the spaces that the book has put me in. But I definitely think it’s the more academic spaces, ‘cause all I’ve been doing out here is speaking at different colleges, so that’s a great thing. I love that. I love touching the kids. I love talking to the students, you know. So that’s a great thing. To keep it simple, as Chris Rock said, people think I’m smarter.
OK. Well, maybe it’s because [as a radio host] you were always talking to other people, and kind of letting them shine instead of you? That’s very true, too. I agree with that. You know, I’ve done a lot of interviews, and when I do interviews, people give more insight to me. But I mean, I’m a radio personality. I express my personality on air, and then people see me interviewing people and it is really all about them. I think that’s the sign of a good interviewer. I hate people who do interviews and they try to make it all about them. And even if you listen to the great ones—if you listen to greats, some of the greatest interviewers even to me, like Larry King, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Oprah Winfrey—they never make it about them. Neeeever. But for some reason, they are just the greatest guides as an interviewer. So, yeah, I mean, that is—that’s what I do. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Which actually makes them more interesting at the end of the day. Once you wrote the book, did you feel that you had to grow from what you were doing before, or are you still pretty much doing the same thing? I always feel the need to grow. I feel like it’s the positive energy that activates constant elevation. I feel like you should always be growing; you should always be evolving. I’m never looking to stay the same and, I mean, this is a daily
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"... BECAUSE YOU REALIZE HOW POWERFUL YOUR BRAIN IS … YOU NEED TO MAKE SURE YOUR THOUGHTS ARE ALWAYS POSITIVE."
Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
thing. You know, this is not even daily sometimes—sometimes hourly. I’m not afraid to unlearn anything I may have already learned in my life. I’m always reading new literature and having new experiences and meeting new people that are assisting my growth and my evolution. I knew when the book came out and did what it had done [that it would]. I believe in writing out your long-term goals and short-term goals. I believe in vision boards, so I can show you old vision boards from five years ago. ‘“I’m going to write a New York Times best-selling book.” I said that five years ago. I know it before I actually do it. I feel like everything happens for a reason. I said it. I started writing this last year, and it came out this year. I just think—I just take it to another level. And when you do things that take you to another level, then you have to go to another level. But I feel that, honestly—honestly? I feel like mentally and spiritually, I was already at that other level. I just needed everybody else to catch up to me. I think that I needed everybody else to just catch up. Now are there times that this all seems surreal to you? Or have you pretty much caught up with what’s going on? Every day, my brother. Every. Single. Day. It all feels so surreal. Because, you know, when you are a kid from Moncks Corner, South Carolina, who has lived the life that I’ve lived, from running the street, to being a part-time radio personality in Charleston, South Carolina, I can remember things I said to myself; I can remember declarations that I made out loud. I remember sitting in the studio in Charleston, South Carolina, at 92 Jams and being on the Internet and looking up—I was listening to old Big Tigger interviews, and Star and Buc Wild, Doug Banks, and Tom Joyner—and saying to myself, I am going to be one of them, I want to be a super jock. ‘Cause to me they were super jocks, and they still are super jocks, ‘cause, we had, I think, syndicated shows in South Carolina with Tom Joyner and Doug Banks. So, to me, those were the guys. I was like, I want to be like them, I want to be one of those guys. And like, to actually walk into those studios and look around, and see that we are nationally syndicated syndicated in 75 markets … It really is when you go into towns—like I was in Kentucky this weekend, and you hear commercials for The Breakfast Club on Kentucky stations
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stations like one in the morning in Lexington and Louisville. That’s when it’s like—that’s when it’s really surreal. Like, I’m actually a nationally syndicated radio personality, yeah. And sometimes, it hasn’t hit me that I’ve done five seasons of a television show [Charlamagne and Friends, Uncommon Sense]. I’ve got a New York Times bestselling book. It’s scary, man; it’s scary, because ... everything that I have ever written down and visualized for myself and said I am going to do to this point, I’ve done it. And now I’ve got a whole new set of goals. And I am seeing a lot of those new goals manifest. So, it’s very scary. It makes you guard your mental, tremendously. It makes you keep certain toxic things out of your mind, because you realize how powerful your brain is … you need to make sure your thoughts are always positive. What do you think is the difference between you and the majority of other jocks, who get into the game and can’t ever seem to get past working market to market and never really progress to a greater level? That’s a great question, man. What success is to me is just doing what you love to do and being happy that you’re doing it. So, it’s probably jocks in other markets who are doing well enough in their market for years and they are making a decent living. Their family’s straight, and their kids are straight, and they’re happy—that’s success. So, if you ask me what’s the difference between me and somebody else, the answer to that is, I’m me and they’re them …. I just can’t really qualify or justify why I am doing what I’m doing and somebody else is doing what they’re doing. I just don’t think that’s the path that God has us on. Do you also think that a part of that is that you are your own man? That you think for yourself and that you took risks? Well, yeah, that’s a good way to look at it, ‘cause I’ve been fired four times in the radio game. And, you know, I think being fired those four times allowed me to always, constantly, feel comfortable being me. You know what I mean? ‘Cause, trust me, there have been plenty of times in my radio career when program directors would tell me that I have too much of an opinion, and I’m not supposed to have an opinion, you know. Or they would put me on liners and try to just get me to say a time and temperature and the positioning statement. And I said, “I can’t do that. That’s not me.” So being fired four times—the ones that hired me knew exactly who they were hiring. And I just think those four firings put me in a position to where [I thought]: Yo! If you’re hiring me, you know exactly what you’re hiring, so … In your book, you reference going back home a couple of times. How did you realize that going home helps you to regroup and re-fuel to get back out there and be even better than you were before?
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I mean, home, home, home is always your center, right? Like, home is always where the majority of people will get their energy from. And I’m a firm believer that whenever you lose something, the best way to find what you lost is to backtrack, right? So, there’s no greater backtrack than going aaaaall the way back to the beginning.
My next question to you is about working with Angela and Envy. The three of you, as you explained in your book, were all working on sidekick stuff for other people. What is the chemistry like when you are off the air? I mean, what would you attribute the show’s success to?
When I went home in 2010, there was really—I had no other choice. It was a financial decision. I mean, I guess me and my wife, we could have thugged it out. We could have thugged it out in New York or New Jersey. But it was like— why? You know what I’m saying? And honestly, it was kind of a situation God set up because I had got fired. We literally already had cleaned our apartment out, ‘cause I was literally going to move into my house, my condo in Philly that day, the day I got fired. My wife already had put her two weeks [notice] in. So, we really didn’t have anywhere to go!
I think that that’s it. I think the fact that we all were co-hosts, we are—were side-kicks, so we all understand how to play our positions. And I think the fact that, we all grown, man. Like, you’re not dealing with kids here; you’re dealing with adults, young adults who got families. Or least me and Envy—me and Envy got families, me and Envy are married. Just, I don’t know, I think we understand each other; we understand each other on an adult level, and we understand each other just on a … I think that’s it. Just on a radio level and just on an adult level, we understand each other. And, like, we’re all watching each other grow, we’re all watching each other evolve, and I think that’s actually where the chemistry comes from. You can’t force the natural chemistry on air, you either got that or you don’t. And I think, what’s made it consistent is just the fact that we’re all watching each other grow, we’re all watching each other evolve. You know, Envy had like three more kids since she’s been on the air. I’ve had another daughter since I’ve been on the air. I’ve gotten married since I’ve been on the air. Angela’s opening up businesses. Like, it’s just different—like my book coming out. This is all new to us, so it’s kind of hard to have an opinion on something that’s new, if that makes any sense. [Laughing] You know what I mean? I think a lot of times we get more hate and more pushback from people who have already experienced it, You know what I mean, than you would somebody who is just new to it. and it’s all dope shit, like Envy’s project with Fetty Wap, that’s doing great. And I do all my TV stuff; Angela’s opening up businesses; like, we all doing good.
We stayed with my wife’s grandma in Brooklyn for a couple of weeks, and we all just drove back to South Carolina, and plus, you know, when I was talking to Kendra G, Kendra G was like, “Yo, go home, spend as much time with your family as you can, because when you get back in position, you’re not going to have time.” And she was absolutely, positively correct.
ON BEING NAMED
RADIO HOST OF THE YEAR
Are you working on another book or are you gonna chill for a while on that?
Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
Who said that? Kendra G, she does the morning, she did the morning— Yeah, I know, in Chicago. Yeah, she’s a really good friend of mine. We were working together in Philly at the time. And I just knew, and I mean, even now, I’m going home this weekend. I’m happy that I’m going home, because my wife—one of my wife’s college best friends is getting married, and so I’m going home on Sunday. And I can’t wait to go sleep in my old room; can’t wait to go sit on my grandmother’s porch—even if it’s just a day. I’m only there for the day, but I need to have that energy right now. You know, to finish the year strong, I needed that.
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No, I’m working on another book right now—right, literally right now. It’s funny, because I didn’t want to just jump out there and do another book with the success of this book. And I mean, the book’s still doing great. It’s a book, though; books will do great forever, if you’ve got a good book. I didn’t want to just jump out there and do another one, because I didn’t want to do it just for the check, ‘cause, of course, everyone—the booking agent, everyone—saying, “Oh, we going to go out there and get you the next big deal,” and yada, yada, yada. And it’s like, “Naw, I don’t do things for money.” And literally, literally, like the deal was for something, like, in my life, I just started to come to terms with—so I’m going to discuss that in the next book. I think it’s something that everybody deals with. They just don’t acknowledge it. But I’ll reveal what that is shortly. Now you stressed in your last book that you think that being honest is the key to your success. On the side of you having a personal life, and you keeping that personal, why do you think that you don’t need to involve your personal life in your success? Well, I do it! I talk about being a father all the time. I talk about things that I do with my wife; I talk about things that
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I do with my daughters. I mean, I do that all the time. It’s just that, if you not, like, my friend, you don’t really see [my family]. That’s the funny thing; people always like, “You don’t show your wife.” And I’m like, first of all, my wife’s with me the majority of the time, like when I am out of town, at events, making appearances, you know, she’s with me most of the time. And all my friends and family know my wife. I’m just not posting my wife and kids on social media because that’s just not something I want to share on social media, to be totally honest. Like I saw Nick Cannon say something today like he’s not going to post anything personal on social media anymore, because these entities are getting paid off our personal lives, and I kind of been saw that a loooong time ago. And not to mention, that’s just not me. I’m not into just sharing, like, “Hey there’s a picture of my child, hey, here’s a picture of my wife,” like, for what? I know what they look like. [Laughing] So, I think I might have posted my dad once, you know what I mean, just because he was in the paper when he got arrested. But like I just—that’s just not what I do, honestly. What is the best interview you think you ever did? And why? Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
"MY FAVORITE INTERVIEW THIS YEAR, IN 2017, WAS WITH TIFFANY HADDISH. I JUST THINK THAT SHE IS JUST AN AMAZING PERSON, AND I JUST FEEL HER STORY IS SO INSPIRING AND SO EMPOWERING" Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeedww
Man, that’s a great question. I honestly don’t think I’ve done it yet. I mean, everybody keeps asking me that. I really don’t know what my best interview is. You know what I mean? ‘Cause it’s just a lot. I don’t know, maybe I’m just too critical. Like I listen to Oprah, Super Soul— you know, podcast—and I hear her, and I’m like, man, that’s … she’s amazing, you know what I’m saying? I don’t know, I don’t know what the best interview I’ve done yet is, because my bar is like very, very, very, very high. Well, let me put it this way, what is the one interview that you’ve done that you’ve learned something you didn’t know before? That you think maybe changed you in a way you didn’t expect? Oh, I got a few of those. I mean, when you talk to somebody like the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan … I’ll give you the latest example; my favorite interview this year, in 2017, was with Tiffany Haddish. I just think that she is just an amazing person, and I just feel her story is so inspiring and so empowering. It’s just like, it made me appreciate life more. Like, listening to her story made me just like, you know what, man? I just really need to just enjoy the moment more, ‘cause I feel like that’s what she does ... And that—that was a very, very, very powerful interview. And honestly, it’s a story that I had heard before—a few of the stories that I had heard before when I heard her on a podcast—on The Champs’ podcast … Like, she just got like a different energy; she’s got like a divine energy around her. I feel like that energy touched me all year long, and I see a lot of myself in her. We’ve got a lot of similar experiences. She grew up a Jehovah’s Witness. And I had this toy that would come alive and play with me and mess with me. And she had this [toy] that she had in her room. It’s just like little things … like she got molested at a young age and didn’t realize that it was molestation until she was older—same with me. It’s
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just like, it’s a lot of different things that we mirror each other, but she’s a better version of me, so to speak. And … what kind of interview would you never do again? I mean, there’s a lot of mistakes that happened in interviews. Like, I think that whole situation with Lil Duval and Janet Mock—I think that was just all bad. Like, there was nothing to be learned from that situation; like there was no socially redeeming value in that situation. Like that was just, that was just something I wish I would have edited all together—you know, because it didn’t benefit the Breakfast Club, it didn’t benefit Lil Duval, and it didn’t benefit Janet Mock and the transgender community. Like I just, just wasn’t— that interview just wasn’t good. You know? And then, ‘cause it kind of felt like … like when I played the audio of Floyd Mayweather reading—that didn’t feel good either, you know? And that’s why, that’s why I didn’t make that mistake again. Like when they sent me the reference tracks of Drake, like when the ghost writing accusations just started. They sent me all those reference tracks, and I didn’t play ‘em on the air. I’m like, man, I’m not playing these, man, you know what I’m saying? I actually did the exact opposite, and I reached out to some of his people and just was like, “Yo man, I’m just letting y’all know this is what’s coming down the pipeline.” And I didn’t get anything out of a relationship or nothing like that. Like, I just did that. And I mean, look—look what happens when you do the right thing, he immortalized me by putting me in a song, you know what I mean?
Congratulations To our client CharlAmagne tha god
That’s another thing I want to ask before I let you go. When you feel that people have done you wrong, or you’re in a situation where somebody doesn’t like you, do you try to extend olive branches, or do you just move on?
Radio Host of the Year
Photo Credit: Ismail “Calligrafist” Sayeed
Nah, for what? Because I’m never being malicious. I mean that. There’s nothing I’ve done that I feel like, I’m doing this on purpose—like I’m really just trying to hurt you or just trying to harm you. Nine times out of ten, I’m just giving my opinion on stuff, you know, I’m just a cultural critic at the end of the day. But with the Floyd Mayweather thing, I actually felt bad about that ‘cause there was no reason to do that. Like, I didn’t even use that as a moment to teach or nothing. That was just me trying to get ratings, trying to get attention, trying to beat Jimmy Kimmel to the punch, ‘cause I saw Jimmy Kimmel offer him some money to come on and read a [Harry Potter book on the show], you know. And 50 [Cent] was offering him money [to read] something on Jimmy Kimmel. So that was just me trying to beat them to the punch—beat the white guys to the punch, that’s all. You know what I’m saying? Like it wasn’t even—it was just done in poor taste. It was like, nah, ‘cause honestly, I don’t feel like nobody’s done me wrong. Honestly, I don’t feel like nooobody’s done me wrong. I feel like people do what they’re capable of doing. And if it’s wrong, then, hey, that’s what they’re capable of doing. RF
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Power Play List ICON OF THE YEAR
«I LEARNED FROM MY MENTOR, JOHN H. JOHNSON, THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPER SERVING THE COMMUNITY.»
You have announced your retirement from radio in two years. In a strange way, you are already missed. How did it feel to make that announcement? Once I realized that it was my best option and shared the news with my family and staff, making the announcement live on the air wasn’t that difficult. I have had to go through a lot of real-life situation—good things and bad—over the past 25 years, and I have always shared these things with my audience. Many of them have been on this journey with me from day one, and I want them to be part of the next two years knowing what’s ahead. That’s not the way it’s normally done in radio, but I felt I owed them that much. What do you think have been two or three of your greatest moments during your tenure in radio? Meeting Nelson Mandela; attending the Million Man March; and being at Grant Park with the TJMS [Tom Joyner Morning Show] crew and my dad the night President Obama was elected really stand out. How will you be celebrating in the coming two years? BIG. You know our whole show was built on the foundation of partying with a purpose and I want to party all the way … whether it’s on the Tom Joyner Foundation Fantastic Voyage, and HBCU homecoming, or other special events we have planned, each one will be a little more special for me over the next couple of years. We’re expecting a lot of input from our audience about their favorite moments from the TJMS, and we’ll be doing a lot of reminiscing that will include friends of the show going back to the beginning.
and his staff will continue to work hard to keep students in HBCUs. Enrollment is up at HBCUs and that means we’ll be needed more than ever. How would you like to be remembered in the radio industry? I learned from my mentor, John H. Johnson, the importance of super serving the community, and I hope I’ll be remembered for not only entertaining our audiences with music and laughs, but for understanding their needs and meeting them. I think I’m most proud of showing the world what Black people are capable of doing. There were so many things we weren’t doing because we were never invited to the table. Coming from a town like Tuskegee, full of Black people who seemed to know no limits, I had no doubt that we could fill up a major cruise liner or have a weekend celebration of families at a top-rate hotel or elect a Black President. I know I had a hand at convincing major advertisers to become partners in a win-win situation for them, our community and Black Radio as a whole. You’ve got amazing energy, what’s next for the legendary Tom Joyner? I plan to retire in every sense of the word. That means enjoying life on a nice warm beach. But I haven’t signed off yet, so right now I want to concentrate on all the work that’s left to be done! The party ain’t over! RF
What can we expect on the cruise this year?
Radio icon Tom Joyner, left, shares a laugh with Grammy winner John Legend in the studio.
Every Fantastic Voyage has had a wow factor. We’ve had amazing performances including Ashford & Simpson, Michael McDonald, Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Larry Graham. We realize that for many people the cruise is a bucket-list experience, and we’ve tried harder each year to include acts that people don’t see every day. Next year we’re excited to present An Evening with Anita Baker. Other headliners for the 2018 Fantastic Voyage include Babyface, The O’Jay’s, The Isley Brothers, Tamar Braxton, and Chris Brown. Your work with the HBCUs has been second to none from an Urban Radio perspective. Will you continue to do that work? Absolutely! The Tom Joyner Foundation isn’t going anywhere. My son, Thomas Joyner Jr.,
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RCA Inspiration has had a great year. Phil Thornton, SVP/GM, is still relatively young but has a résumé that people twice his age would envy. Success comes to those in the industry who are confident and know their value, and Phil is no exception to that rule. He’s an out-of-the-box thinker when it comes to branding and promoting artists, and that comes from working various positions over the past 25 years. I’ve watched RCA Inspiration this year, and I have consistently been impressed with the label and its marketing and promotion efforts.
hornton started in the industry at an unbelievable 12 years of age with an internship at the legendary WOWI in Norfolk, VA. Kandi Eastman and the late K.J. Holiday saw his passion and gave him a chance. After that, almost a seasoned vet at the ripe old age of 15, he started his second internship with Arista. He credits Craig Davis, Benny Pough, Jeff House, Lionel Ridenour, Vanessa Barryer, and many others who worked at Arista during that time for showing him the ropes. In 2003, Thornton graduated from college and then took a chance as an entrepreneur by starting a management/consulting company called Bright Star Entertainment. There, he worked with artists like Lil’ Mo, 112, and various producers in New York. In 2006, he moved to Los Angeles and started a management/ production company, Ten 2 One Entertainment, with two business partners (Marcus
GOSPEL LABEL/GOSPEL EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR
Tell me about your management team. I have the best team in Gospel Music! Tamar Rand is our VP of Promotions & Strategy. I have known Tamar for years. We worked together at eOne Music for a few years, and she dealt with me in my crazy days as an artist manager. She has witnessed my evolution!
Spence and Paul Coy Allen) and managed a variety of clients, including Mack Wilds, Faith Evans, Kenny Lattimore, and Michelle Williams, among others. He also produced a number of music videos, commercials, and other content. Around that same time, he started producing reality shows with his friend Datari Turner. His first series was “I Married A Baller” for TV One. He went on to produce more shows, including the “R&B Divas” franchise (TV One), “It’s A Mann’s World” (BET), and “Surviving Compton” (Lifetime), among many more projects. Thornton also started managing more Gospel artists after he started Ten 2 One: Coko (SWV), Jessica Reedy, and Dorinda Clark-Cole. All of these artists were signed to Entertainment One (eOne) Music. In 2012, Entertainment One offered him the position of VP Marketing and New Business Develop-
Sr. VP/GM, RCA Inspiration
Phil, Catherine Brewton (BMI) and Byron Wright (Warner Chappell)
Tamar is smart and one of the best in the business! She is supported by industry veteran Cathy Carroll, aka “Chi-Town Cathy.” They make a great team. Multiple number ones this year with Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, and two from Travis Greene. They are on fire! Jarrett Dyson heads our A&R department. He is a smart guy with a wealth of knowledge. He is supported by A&R manager Jeremy Castro. Our marketing team includes some superstars in the making. Gabby Jones and Justin Tomlinson have the hunger, passion, and forward thinking I look for in marketing executives. Industry veteran Damon Williams joined the team as a consultant at the end of summer. He has been a great asset to the team.
Photo Credit: Derek Blanks
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ment; two years later he was promoted to VP/GM of the division. In June 2016, Sony decided to shift RCA Inspiration from New York to Nashville and asked him to spearhead the label, and he accepted the SVP/GM position. We got a chance to talk to Phil about his team, the label, and gospel music.
Charlene Bryant is the (physical/digital) sales manager and Ritz McCain, aka “Sister Streams,” is the streaming manager. They are an unstoppable force and keep our releases prominently featured on all physical, digital, and streaming platforms.
Phil with Marvin Sapp
Aliya Crawford and Jacinda Chen from W&W Public Relations handle all the media needs for RCA Inspiration. I have been working with them for over five years now. They consistently deliver for my artists.
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Last but definitely not least, my assistant, Tamone Bacon. He is an executive in training! He is definitely the “glue” and keeps the entire team on track—and this is no easy task. Many people only see the success of what we do, and they are rarely aware of the demands and the work that it takes. To that end, what’s a typical day like for you? My day generally starts between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. CST. I talk to God, thank him for another day and seek guidance. I start responding to emails. I turn on “The Breakfast Club” to check out DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne Tha God—my favorite morning show. Then I have CNN in another room. Last but not least, I check my favorite news outlet—Instagram. (lol)
many in Urban and Pop have moved here over the last few years—Jill Scott, Chuck Harmony, Claude Kelly, and Justin Timberlake, to name a few. Many people associate Country Music with Nashville. So many other genres have roots here: Gospel, Blues, etc. Plus, in 2019 NMAAM (the National Museum of African American Music) is launching in the heart of downtown Nashville (at 5th and Broadway across from the historic Ryman Auditorium). I’m proud to be a board member for such a momentous museum. Tell us about Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin’s recent wins at the Dove Awards. We have been fortunate this year. The Dove Awards is another testament that we are doing something great for Gospel Music. Donnie is having a great year! We celebrated a number-one single with “I Need You” in March. It was his first number one since 2005 [“I Call You Faithful”]. I’m very excited about the future with Donnie McClurkin and extending our relationship. As for Kirk, he has had an amazing year! He won a GRAMMY®, Billboard Music Award, Stellar Award, and Dove Award this year for a project still going strong since 2015. We work multiple singles at RCA Inspiration and remain committed to our artists and label partners. The awards are cool and we’re grateful for them. But as Kirk [Franklin] and I always say, it’s about “making God famous.” That is the biggest reward and payoff! It’s been stated that the Gospel Music industry is very frugal and old school (still likes CDs). Your thoughts?
Phil with Radio One Founder/Power Play list Honoree, Ms. Cathy Hughes. Photo Credit: Charlene Byrant
I normally have calls/meetings at the office before 10 a.m., so I like to get settled. I communicate with every department at some point daily and some of our other Sony Music divisions to explore synergy for our roster. I make it a point to check in with our artists on a frequent basis. I pride myself in being accessible to our artists, managers, agents, lawyers, etc. I’m getting better with “worklife balance.” Many nights I may have a dinner meeting, but I limit that to two to three evening meetings weekly. On average I have 14- to 16hour days. I look forward to the weekends! You moved to Nashville (I believe) to take the position. I hear it’s an amazing and growing market for all kinds of music. Your thoughts? Nashville is truly the “Music City”! I love this city! I’m going on six years as a Nashville resident. I appreciate the communal vibe of the city. So
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The Gospel consumer is evolving before our eyes. Charlene Bryant [RCA Inspiration Sales Manager] and I constantly review the sales, overall consumption weekly, all pertinent data. Gospel is still heavy with physical—similar to the Country Music consumer. But we are seeing a lot of activity in streaming, especially with our catalog titles. We are creating various activations to encourage digital consumption of our music in partnership with some of the digital service providers. As digital consumption continues to grow in the future, further education in the Gospel/Urban space remains important. I see that RCA Inspiration thinks outside of that box by doing things like Facebook Live for Marvin Sapp’s 11th album. How did that turn out? We actually kicked off our Facebook Live promotion with Travis Greene in August. We partnered with BET Gospel to celebrate Travis’ pre-order. The feedback was awesome! We
launched Marvin Sapp’s latest release with Facebook as well, and partnered with the WORD network. Gabby Jones and Justin Tomlinson continue to bring fresh ideas to the table weekly and make RCA Inspiration (and our artists) stand apart from other labels. Those two work around the clock and constantly strategize. I’m truly grateful for them both. How does the label come up with exciting promotional concepts around release dates, and what are some of the things that make RCA Inspiration stand out? I would definitely say it’s a team effort. Although the marketing team will drive the conversation, Tamar (promo), Charlene (sales), and Jarrett (A&R) will weigh in. I love the collaborative environment. We still create marketing plans for every release and believe in executing them. My team is a younger team, and they are not afraid to try new ways of marketing/promoting in this everchanging music industry. You’ve been an entrepreneur, you’ve worked in TV, and you have worked with mainstream artists. What have you learned most from each of those positions? I have learned to value the relationships and people at each juncture. You would be amazed at the people that I dealt with as a television producer, artist manager and in other roles who are now many of the same people working with me in this new chapter. You have to be integral and give people respect. How have those experiences helped you with this position? It has worked out great for me. I treat everybody with respect, from the intern to the CEO. I was an intern 20-plus years ago. I’m grateful to all of the people who poured knowledge and wisdom into me at a young age. It’s my responsibility to pour into the next generation. How important do you think it is for industry people to diversify their skills as you have? What do you believe is the greatest advantage of doing so? I think it’s great to diversify your skills. I took time and I didn’t intend for everything to happen at once. But I have an amazing team at Sony and at Ten 2 One that keeps things moving. In this industry knowledge is power. You must show your value and encourage each other. Among my team, I don’t just want them to “stay in their lane.” Staying in your lane may limit your growth potential as an executive. What are some of the other things RCA Inspiration is working on?
L-R Justin Tomlinson, Jeremy Castro, Jarrett Dyson, Marvin Sapp, Tamone Bacon, Gabby Jones, Tamar Rand, Phil, Cathy Carroll, and Charlene Bryant.
We have some great things happening in 2018. We have had a record-breaking year of sync placements (Greenleaf; the Tupac film All Eyez On Me) and brand partnerships (Ford, McDonald’s, Cracker Barrel). I want to continue to bridge the gap between the television/film community and our roster and create more unique partnerships with brands. Also, we are looking to launch a few Gospel [outdoor] festivals and stage plays in select cities next year, for the entire [Gospel] genre, not just limited to our roster. What would you like to see more of in the industry that would help the Gospel industry be more successful?? Originality. Kirk Franklin is one of one. You can’t duplicate his success. The same goes for Marvin Sapp, Travis Greene, Donnie McClurkin, Donald Lawrence, and the rest of our amazing roster. They are unique and can’t be duplicated. While you may hear some artists who do sometimes compare their results to other artists in this industry generally, it’s your unique voice and talents that are the key to growing as an artist, in any genre.
“I HAVE LEARNED TO VALUE THE RELATIONSHIPS AND PEOPLE AT EACH JUNCTURE. YOU WOULD BE AMAZED AT THE PEOPLE THAT I DEALT WITH AS A TELEVISION PRODUCER, ARTIST MANAGER AND IN OTHER ROLES WHO ARE NOW MANY OF THE SAME PEOPLE WORKING WITH ME IN THIS NEW CHAPTER.” them that it’s about consumption—digital plus physical plus streaming. Plus, there are so many revenue streams for the genre (touring, brands, etc.).
It takes a TEAM to handle a successful artist in any genre.
Also, I would like to see less of Gospel artists trying to manage themselves. You need qualified people speaking on your behalf and creating value. You need a manager, agent, attorney, label partner, etc.
Thanks again to my amazing team at RCA Inspiration. I couldn’t do it without you! Congratulations on a great 2017! Also, a special shout-out to our CEO, Terry Hemmings, one of the greatest executives I have worked with. Looking forward to 2018! RF
Phi with Erica Campbell Photo Credit: Charlene Bryant
Also, I would love to see more young professionals get involved in Gospel. Gospel remains vital in music worldwide, and welcoming fresh ideas from new generations at the various labels, at management firms, and agencies, is important. What would you like to see less of? I would like to see less of people voicing their frustration with Gospel Music sales and how it’s going away. Gospel Music is not going anywhere. The future looks bright. I want to encourage people and educate
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MICHAEL BAISDEN BEST RETURN OF THE YEAR
Michael Baisden is one of the most compelling, dedicated, and entertaining people on the air. He took a break from radio for four years. I have seen many people sit back and wait for another opportunity, but I was extremely impressed with how Michael grabbed the bull by the horns and kept his social media accounts entertaining and active. I followed him and was in awe at how he continued to build his brand and fanbase while he wasn’t even on the air. When the category for “Return of the Year” came up, everyone agreed he was at the top of the list. We got a chance to talk to Baisden about his return. Congratulations on your successful return to the airwaves. You sound amazing. How does it feel? It feels great! I’ve been waiting to get back on the mic for almost 4 years now, and my passion for radio is greater than ever! It should be obvious to anyone listening to the show that I’m excited and ready to go for another 5 to 10 years. During your break, you were constantly on social media and making appearances. Your determination to keep in touch with your fanbase was unparalleled. What made you decide to do this? During my 10 years producing my show, I was accustomed to producing music, features, and topics daily, and I enjoyed that aspect of the show, so I figured, why stop? So, I produced my social media page in the same way I did the radio show, and the audience responded. I went from 200,000 fans in 2013 to over 4 million by the time I returned to radio in January 2017. Can we expect more branding from you, like more books, movies etc.? Yes, there will definitely be more books. I’m currently working on a book about pursuing success and a children’s book about fatherless children. And of course, relaunching my TV Show, ”Baisden After Dark,” and other film projects are on my things-to-do list for 2018.
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Where would you like to see yourself in the next couple of years? I want to have the number one afternoon show in the country, syndicated in over 100 cities, as well as the number one social media content company. I am currently working on the relaunch of my digital platform, Video Pitch. I’m determined to change the game in the radio industry when it comes to audio and video content. What advice would you give a younger Michael Baisden today? Stay true to your brand and don’t allow others to convince you to perform on-air in a way that doesn’t reflect who you truly are. Also, understand that in order to have a great radio show that will stand the test of time, you must have great producers and an ideology of inclusiveness. I never liked the term Urban Radio or Black Radio. That may be advantageous for sales, but it limits the opportunities and reach of the talent. Tell us about your team. Well, of course, I have to start with comedian George Willborn, who’s been with me since 2007. It’s great to have his energy and perspective back on the show. Our chemistry is second to none. Then there’s Tamara G, the lady of the show, who I’ve known for many years from her work on Jacksonville and
WEDR and Hot 105 in Miami. I also brought on Doug Davis, who was working as a PD in Savannah when I met him. He’s been doing a great job of holding down the production and editing duties. Of course, we needed some young blood on the team, so I hired a talented young man from New York—we call him Juan Carlos Urena-Acosta, We call him Juan C, who’s responsible for editing and managing the production of the show to the satellite company. My daughter, Michae’ Baisden, is my intern show producer and is doing an excellent job of scheduling guests and producing show topics. And finally, the two newest members of the team are Tanisha Carmichael and Miles Low, both of whom are working out great as producers. Anything else? I’m happy that my comeback has been so well received. I think it’s important that radio programs have substantive content that people will talk about long after the show is over. For too long, Black Radio has relied on news and humor, instead of opening up the phone lines and talking directly to the people. When you have compelling content and add in the perspective of the on-air personality, it’s an experience that’s exclusive to that host and station. That’s how we win long-term in radio, by engaging the audience every hour instead of having personalities operate in a bubble. And no one engages the audience more often and better than “The Michael Baisden Show!” RF
How do you think we can get there quicker?
Power Play List 2017
I think we still have a way to go. But if we keep working and creating great content, anything is possible. When you look at what Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris, Will Packer and Charles D. King are doing, it shows that all things are possible.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER OF THE YEAR
What did you think when you initially read the New Edition script [in 2006]?
“IT WAS JUST TIME TO START MY OWN COMPANY AND CONTINUE TO CREATE CONTENT UNDER MY OWN BANNER.” - JESSE COLLINS
I thought, “I have no idea how to make a movie but somehow I am going to get this done.” Why do you think it took so long to get done? Nothing happens until the timing is right. Did you consider doing it as a film? The talented cast portraying New Edition recreates an infamous BET interview in “The New Edition Story,” co-produced by Jesse Collins. Photo Credit: BET
Besides the obvious, what are some of the greatest differences between TV and Radio? Photo Credit: Collins Jackson Agency
JESSE COLLINS Jesse Collins Entertainment
Jesse Collins and I worked together at KKBT The Beat in Los Angeles in the early ‘90s. A LOT was happening during that time in L.A.: The O.J. Simpson trial, the Rodney King verdict and the riots, the massive earthquake, and the start of the Death Row record empire. While KKBT had its ups and downs, EVERYBODY in the country wanted to work there. The really strange thing about history is that sometimes you have no idea you are making it. Collins left the radio industry for TV many years ago, and he has never looked back. He executive produced the super successful biopic for New Edition on BET, The New Edition Story, which was watched by 30 million viewers this past January. Where are you originally from? Washington, DC. What did you originally aspire to be? A late night talk show host. Tell me about your career in radio and your thoughts on the station. My radio career started in Ocean, Maryland at a station called WKHI, and then from there I went to WPGC in DC and
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finally ended up at KKBT. I also did a short stint at Power 106 LA. The Beat was an amazing place to be because you were really at the epicenter of Hip Hop. Tupac, Dr. Dre, Snoop, Puffy, Biggie, Outkast—everyone came through The Beat. And of course, I was fortunate enough to be a part of The Ruthless Radio Show with the late great Eazy E. KKBT also really prepared me for life after radio. It allowed me to build relationships with people that helped my transition to television—like Marlon Wayans, Gary Gray, Faizon Love, Chris Tucker
and Robert Townsend who gave me my big break—my first job as a writer on his show, The Parent Hood. Why didn’t you stay in radio after you were gone from the station? After I started writing, I realized that I just lost the passion for being on the air. I just wanted to write. So, it was time to just gracefully bow out. Power 106 was kind enough to let me stay on the air on weekends for much longer than they should have.
To me, the biggest difference is that you can create something to change your destiny. All it takes is an idea, and everything can change.
So you went from radio to TV, then you became an entrepreneur. I can only imagine how challenging that was, but it was brilliant nonetheless. What made you decide to create Jesse Collins Entertainment?
Do you miss radio?
It was just time to start my own company and continue to create content under my own banner.
I would love to own a small radio station at the beach one day. But, I doubt I would go back on the air.
What is the greatest challenge as an entrepreneur working in TV production?
Do you listen from time to time? What do you think of radio today?
Finding new content. Complacency is the devil.
It’s great. I love to be able to bounce back and forth between satellite and FM radio.
Do you feel opportunities for black talent are opening up more, or do you think we still have a long way to go?
Crew members consult with Bobby Brown, center, on his portrayal by Woody McClain, left, in BET’s “The New Edition Story.” Photo Credit: BET
Yes. It was initially sold as a feature. Once you were in production, did you have any idea it would be as big as it was? No, but I knew it could be good. What did it feel like to see it finally played out on TV and get those huge numbers? ... It was a huge relief! Now that it’s done, what are some of the other projects that you are working on? We are doing the Bobby Brown biopic next, and then after that, we have a few scripted series coming in 2018. Tell me the three greatest lessons that you have learned in your career? The biggest thing is that in production there are three options: cheap, fast, and good. And you can only have two of them. So, if you want it to be good, then you have to choose between cheap or fast. If you need it fast, then you must choose between cheap and good. If you want it cheap then you have to choose between fast and good. You can never have all three. Any advice for millennials who want to work in TV and film? Never think any one project is going to make or break your career. It is about a body of work. You never know what will lead to the next thing, so don’t hold on to the failures or the successes too tight, because it is all fleeting. RF
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power play list ‘radio co rporation of the year ’
HURRICANE DAVE SMITH power play list ‘PD of the year ’
TOASTS TO CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, RADIO HOST OF THE YEAR.
We are honored to host you in our House.
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