URBAN RADIO AND MUSICâ€™S LEADING INDUSTRY SOURCE
Women of Color in Radio
KAREN SL ADE
C O V E R S T O RY
WOMEN OF COLOR IN RADIO
S P E C IA L G U E S T S
Radio Facts celebrates the contributions of Women of Color in our first annual issue. These are the amazing women in our industry who go above and beyond the call of duty to be more effective and revolutionary in their decision making positions. We hope that you enjoy this issue and that you are motivated and inspired by it. URBAN RADIO AND MUSICâ€™S LEADING INDUSTRY SOURCE
RADIO NEXUS HONOR: CELEBRATING
Women of Color in Radio
CATHERINE BREWTON | 24 Cover Image of Cathy Hughes: Jay Silverman Productions
KAREN SL ADE
WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 3
BY KEVIN ROSS
IT all started with email.
A couple of months ago, I was thinking about all the email that I get, and announcements that I make about awards and honors for industry people in Radio that are almost always outside of the Urban industry realm. There are a few exceptions - literally a few - within these honors but there are none that exclusively honor today’s active Urban radio industry professionals. This is not to take away from what others are doing. We need all the help that we can get and we applaud them. Still there are many hardworking people of color in the current industry that rarely receive the accolades they so deserve. This Radio Facts special issue, Honoring Women of Color in Radio, is the first of three yearly issues that we will do to profile the stellar talents of various industry people. Our next special issue is coming in December in which we will honor Premier Urban and Rhythmic Programmers. For this issue, we let the voices of the industry vote on who they thought the stellar Women of Color are in radio deserving of recognition. This year we are honoring industry icon Cathy Hughes along with Angela Watson, DeDe McGuire, Sybil Wilkes, Karen Slade and, in our Nexus (neksəs / noun: a connection or series of connections linking two or more things) category: Catherine Brewton. Each of these women play an intrinsic role in making our industry as great as it is and will continue to become. We are proud to present to you this very special issue and many more issues like this to come. I greatly hope that you enjoy this edition of Radio Facts. Please give us your feedback because next September we will do it all again with new honorees. I’d like to thank the many people who helped me to put this issue together, including A. Scott Galloway, Janine Coveney, Ronda Racha Penrice, Jamillah Muhammad, Cameron Penny, Hassahn Liggins and all the industry folks who took the time to vote for our honorees. My Best, Kevin Ross Radio Facts CEO Serving the industry since 1995
4 | RADIO FACTS
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WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O Many years ago, I remember you at Jack the Rapper trying to tell people where the industry was going. You were pushing entrepreneurship but you seemed disappointed that it didn’t seem like your message was getting across. Do you recall that?
Photo courtesy of Robertson Treatment
ADDING MORE COLOR
TO HOLLYWOOD’S VISION BY KEVIN ROSS
CATHY HUGHES BY KEVIN ROSS
Radio One owner Cathy Hughes is an undeniable industry icon. She’s modest when receiving accolades reminding others that “I’m still a work in progress.” Obviously, she’s not done yet and she doesn’t believe in resting on her laurels. She comes from a long line of entrepreneurs including her father, grandfather and great, great grandfather – to all of whom she attributes much of her business knowledge. Her first job was doing tax returns with her grandfather and having the ability to type 100 words per minute at the age of 10. When you talk to her and you are in her presence, you actually sense her greatness and confidence. Radio One employs the most African Americans in the radio industry. Her son Alfred Liggins is the CEO. Most recently the company added a cable network, TV One, which is another success story with hit shows like “Unsung” with current plans to premiere a new scripted drama conceptualized by Cathy. Plus there’s Interactive One, their Internet arm with the popular sites “Hello Beautiful”, “Global Grind” and “The Urban Daily”. 6 | RADIO FACTS
Very well… I was talking about duopoly and the fact that the FCC was going to deregulate. This was going to adversely affect smaller owners because the big owners were going to be able to double and triple up. It went over like a lead balloon. They didn’t believe me! It was nothing they were interested in … This was during the heyday of Black executives in the music industry and Blackowned stations. We were at our peak. Right ... thinking it was going to last forever. Absolutely — and that it was going to increase. I was trying to tell them that we were getting ready to hit a major obstacle in the middle of the road, okay — a big pothole — and if we weren’t careful, many of us would fall into it. As you see now, there are very few owners left. I can only name a few Black owners in the entire music industry. Say you went out of your way to support a Black business, like a restaurant, and the service was poor. Would you most likely walk away or say something? Oh, heavens no, heavens no! — Black-owned? I’m going to tell them. I’m going to befriend the owner and I’m going to tell them. I would hope that they do the same with me. I have always used my audiences — be they television, or radio or the internet — as my ongoing focus group. I make it clear to all of those whom we serve, clients included, if you are not satisfied with our service, please bring it to the top immediately. I want to correct it. I grew up being taught that the consumer is always correct, be it my listener, or viewer or sponsor. What is the one thing that has remained constant throughout your
CATHY HUGHES station. So I had the whole side of 1680 Wisconsin — the whole FM side was empty, that’s where I lived! I converted it into an apartment. I had to put in a bathroom. It took me 18 months because I didn’t have much money. I was trying to keep the station alive but I converted 2500 square feet into an apartment. Singer K. Michelle, Radio One CEO Alfred Liggins and Cathy Hughes.
Was it a functioning apartment or a makeshift?
career in radio with listeners?
It was a living apartment. For those 18 months, I cooked on a hotplate and I slept in a sleeping bag. As I got my money together, the first thing I
Their trust in the message that they are receiving through Blackowned media, whether it’s print or electronic. There are people in my listening audience I talk to that are still very upset that EBONY was sold because they don’t know if they can trust the new people. Same as when Viacom bought BET, their ratings still have yet to recover. Now their programming changed — a lot of different things changed — but most importantly what changed was the TRUST factor. I want to ask about your situation early on when you slept on the bathroom floor of the station... About my what? No-no, not the bathroom floor — the station floor! Oh, I’m sorry. Yes, I slept on the floor of the radio station. No, I never slept in the bathroom (laughs)! I washed up in my public bathroom and I slept in a sleeping bag in my radio station office. Was Alfred there? No. Alfred was in college at UCLA. I lived in the radio station alone. Did he know that you were sleeping on the floor of the station? Yeah. He had to come to see his momma! The station where I was living was empty on the FM side. When I bought WOL, the owner refused to sell me the AM and FM. He sold the FM to another company and it became WMBQ, a country
“I was in a 24-hour business and now I was living in that 24-hour business. I didn’t have to get in my car to drive to the station. I didn’t have to go anywhere to get to my office. It sounds a lot more terrible than it actually was.”
CATH Y HUGH ES
put in was a bathroom because it was quite embarrassing washing up that length of time in the public bathroom. At night, I would go to a friend of mine’s house and take a shower. I got a pre-fab bathroom. I was so excited. They elevated the floor and literally ran the plumbing off of the water fountain that was in the hallway at the radio station. Then they put in this little water heater. It was so cute; you could almost sit on top of it! It held maybe only 50 gallons of water but I had hot water. After the prefab bathroom, they gave me a little kitchenette. So I went from a hotplate to a two-burner stove and one of those apartment-size refrigerators. Then I converted office space into actual living space, but that’s actually not so unique, Kevin. Are you aware that there are over 100 congress people who live in their offices
because they can’t afford the housing in D.C.? They sleep in their offices. What? I was not aware of that. I would think that it’s because they probably work so much. I just became aware six months ago. I understand that several congress people have tried to pass policy where they would have to pay rent because all their bathrooms have showers. All they have to do is get a pull-out couch. How did you maintain your ability to keep going at that point? Did you feel like owning the station may have been a mistake? Oh no, it was exhilarating for me. I was in a 24-hour business and now I was living in that 24-hour business. I didn’t have to get in my car to drive to the station. I didn’t have to go anywhere to get to my office. It sounds a lot more terrible than it actually was. It was really, really, really great to be able to be there to nurture and develop my business in its early stages. What was really a hardship was a lemon that turned out to be lemonade. Okay? I was in Georgetown so I was a block and a half away from a Safeway. I was a block and a half from a whole street full of restaurants. And since I was living there for 18 months, everybody in the restaurants knew me. I could call ahead, pick up my meal, bring it back and warm it on the hotplate. Microwaves weren’t the big thing then. Earlier in your career, you were promoted to the General Sales Manager at WHUR. How did you go from $250,000 to $3 Million in sales in a year? I was hired as the General Sales Manager. I was promoted to Vice President and General Manager. They brought me into setup their sales division. They didn’t even have a sales packages, okay? The first thing I did was develop a sales philosophy. I created their logo, developed a sales package and hired a team of sales WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 7
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O people. They had none of that. They were just kind of taking business as it came along. They weren’t going after business. It was not as difficult as it may appear when you’ve got a sales package, four or five people on the street, a campaign, and a strategy. You go for it! That’s how I knew I could maximize their revenue. I was like, “Oh, my God, they’re just kind of bumping into 250 thousand dollars every year (doing no sales).” How did you find salespeople? My first recruitment was with the Howard University School of Business. My two top salespeople during those days were students who I had recruited when they were seniors in college. They came and started working part-time. As soon as they graduated they went to full-time. In those days, every college student — even if their parents were paying their tuition — had some type of gig. That was just our culture. So I had a whole reservoir (laughing). I was right across the street from the reservoir — full of hungry individuals who were fascinated by media. They were ready to get their foot in the door. We had a very respectable product, WHUR, Howard University Radio. Do you find that that hunger still exists today? No. Do you think it can be attributed to social media and networking? Unfortunately, those of us in the media glamorized instant gratification. So the sacrifice — the hard work, the hunger — it’s gone. It’s like the way our community told smart Black kids that it’s not cool to be smart. So often I interview young people who act as if they are doing me a favor by coming to apply for this job. I know you’ve experienced that, right? Yes (laughing) And, they’re gonna tell you how to do Radio Facts better than you can! Absolutely and have their own 8 | RADIO FACTS
agendas. Exactly. I’ll go to my grave singing the praises of Tony Brown. If he called me right now, I would abort this interview with you and run to do whatever it is that he needed for me to do because he opened the door of opportunity for me. I will always be loyal and grateful to Tony Brown. I was hungry and needed that opportunity so I appreciated it. When you’re not hungry, you don’t recognize that someone has opened the door for you, that Cathy Hughes with singer Fantasia. you should be grateful or that you should be loyal. So managed facility, it’s balanced out at often, young people use their first or 50-50. But I think it is the nature of second, or sometimes third, fourth or our industry that that’s always going fifth opportunity as a stepping stone. to be a confrontational reality of our They’re only with you until they get industry. “something better.” If you had started Radio One in 2016, Well, the one thing that remains what are some of the things that you constant is relationships. would do differently? Yes. First of all, I would not rear Alfred as There is an instant gratification but at an only child. I would have as many the end of the day, relationships are brothers and sisters for him as I could going to be more profound because so they could all work in the company you can always go back and ask and reduce rates like Alfred and I both for something else. With instant do! (laughing) I am very serious about gratification, you get one chance. that! I had come to the conclusion that Black folks had it right back during That’s really the key — you are so the day when we were an agricultural correct. community. Many hands make for I haven’t been in a station for a lighter loads. minute but, at one time, there was a You talked earlier about what I said disconnect between programming at Jack the Rapper, trying to educate and sales, one thinking they were the community. I think I would have more important than the other. Do beaten that drum a lot louder and you still see that today? a lot longer. I would not have just Oh heavens, yes, because there said, “Okay, you all aren’t listening,” are only 24 hours of airtime and I just went and practiced what I both are competing for it. Both are was preaching. I started looking at controlling what goes over that opportunities for my company. I felt microphone and what goes out on I had done my part just telling them. that transmitter. Programming creates Now as I look back at the shrinkage and manufactures the product so that has occurred in Black ownership, they figure they’re the most important I wish I had encouraged more. because without a product, there It’s so funny that you just said that is nothing to sell. Sales generate because I have found when you try the revenue to pay your salary to to encourage people in the Black manufacture the product so they feel community, we tend to respond they’re more important. In a wellquickest to a crisis.
CATHY HUGHES You’re right. We have to be extremely interested in a situation or in deep despair. I know you wanted to do more but I have found that it actually wears you out. Well, that’s the reason we stopped doing it. I remember Pepe (Percy) Sutton telling me that. I was trying to have a one-on-one with him but he was passionate that I should worry about Radio One and let him take care of Inner City Broadcasting. What advice would you give a Black entrepreneur just starting out? In the world of entrepreneurs: Be your own best PR. So often in those first six or seven years starting out, people ask you, “How you doing?” “Oh, it’s rough, it’s rough.” We say, “I’m not making budget, I’m not doing this or that.” Herb Wilkins of SYNCOM, who loaned me my first million dollars, said to me, “You have to be your own publicist. You have to be your own PR agent. When people ask you how you’re doing, say, ‘It’s getting better’ or ‘It’s great!’” You never know who’s listening. The first person who hears that is you because it came out of your mouth and went to your ears. If you believe it is getting better then the glass is half full [instead of half empty]. Then people start saying, “Well, you know, Cathy’s not doing good, I don’t know what’s going to happen to her and her company, ‘cause I talked to her and she was about ready to throw in the towel.”
They helped me build my station on 4th and 8th. When they realized that I was coming into the hood to bravely do something that no one else had done, they checked in, they used to write on their checks to Washington Gas, “We listen to WOL — please advertise!” So, no, I’ve never felt isolated. I’ve always felt connected to the community that I have been blessed to serve. I always chuckle when people say, “You never change.” Why would I change? This has been my greatest blessing. I want to talk to my listeners. I want to talk to the people who use my products and my services. I don’t want to ever become disconnected. And because of that, I have always felt that whatever the problem was, there was going to be a solution. There was going to be an angel in the form of a man or a woman I didn’t even know. They would just show up and say, “I want to advertise” or “I want to help do that” or “I want to help do this” or “I want to sponsor that.” So, no - that isolation, I think, is when we spend too much time inside our head.
shootings, should radio come to the rescue? Some stations just totally ignored it.
When you see a situation like what just happened with all the police
A lot of them do … they’re just not trying to toot their own horn.
I know what you’re saying. They just kept on playing music. We just commissioned a big research project. I never want to be in the position of deciding for my listeners, my viewers or my users of Interactive One what I think is best for them. I ask them what it is that they think is best for them. So we just completed some research on what needs to be done. The first thing is you have to have a calm head and analyze the situation. Next, you have to declare your listeners’ safety, as a top priority. If everybody gets killed, who’s going to be listening to your station? It’s in your best interest to help your community solve whatever problems need solving, particularly one of life or death. Radio One can’t do the entire job of influencing or inspiring the community when these things happen. Why do you think a lot of Black celebrities don’t get more involved in these issues?
Cathy Hughes celebrating “Cathy Hughes Corner” at a street festival for the corner in Washington, DC named after her.
You actually did that today. When I asked you about sleeping on the floor, you gave a very positive response to that. Yeah. Do you feel that you have had a good support system? Yes, I always had positive reinforcement from Washington, D.C. and what the listeners here have provided to me. They are the ones that empowered me to go nationwide. God instilled it in their hearts to surround me with love and support.
WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 9
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O Cathy Hughes with Radio One VP of Programming Colby Colb Tyner and Cash Money CEO Ronald “Slim” Williams.
Sometimes when Oprah and I talk, we do one-ups on each other about who gets the most requests or some of the most interesting requests. A lot of times celebrities won’t discuss what they’re doing because they don’t want the whole world at their doorstep. You can’t service all of the needs of the community. How do you respond to people that question your choices about management at Radio One? Well, number one, we’ve probably had more diversity than anyone. We’ve had women managers, we’ve had African American managers. Right now we’re going through a phase where, unfortunately, we lose our Black managers to other companies. We’re a stepping stone for a lot of people so right now my white managers outnumber my Black managers at the top. But that’s just a cycle we’re going through because of availability in the marketplace. One of the things that happened is, with consolidation — particularly in radio — it’s hard to compete against an iHeart. I would love for Doc Wynter to work for me. Unfortunately, I can’t afford him. D.L. Hughley did an amazing job with the recent police shootings. 10 | RADIO FACTS
Everywhere he was, I kept wondering why he didn’t promote the radio show a bit more. I thought he did an amazing job as a spokesperson for the community combining his wit, intellect and passion. It’s like a comedian is absolutely equipped for that job. Exactly correct! Thank you! He canceled his vacation, the whole nine yards. So, we’re going through a cycle, but we’re in the Black people business so it will cycle back again. A lot of the Black executives in radio we’ve been after for years. I want to settle a score on the creation of “The Quiet Storm.” I’ve heard it credited to you and I’ve heard credited to the late Melvin Lindsey. Who actually created the Quiet Storm? Me. Melvin Lindsey was my third host of “The Quiet Storm.” He was my most popular because he stayed the longest. Before I hired him, Melvin Lindsey was my intern and he actually got hired by accident. The two people that preceded him were Don Roberts, who decided that he liked television better than radio, and Melvin Lindsey’s best friend, Jack Shuler. Melvin Lindsey was actually my third host of “The Quiet Storm.” It took him almost a year before he really grew into his personality. Melvin was goodlooking, tall and a really wonderful personality. That music captivated the Washington market.
Melvin was able to come out of his shell and really blossom along with it. Have you started getting more scripted programming for TV One? Absolutely. In January, my first production, “Media”, will be airing. We premiered it at the Television Critics Association upfronts recently and it was well received. “Media” will air in January of 2017 — say a prayer for me. I’m sure it’ll do well. What about “Unsung”? Do you think you would have had more artists participate if it wasn’t for the title? Yes. I wonder if some artists are insulted by that title. You’re absolutely correct. Does Radio One do any community work as far as nonprofits, something that’s near and dear to you? Oh, my God, heavens yes: The school in Mississippi, The Piney Woods Country Life School…tons of it. Well, I know that you are busy and I’d like to thank you for your time today. I greatly appreciate it. Thank you, Kevin. (Go to www.podcastport.com to hear the entire extended interview).
Radio Facts CEO Kevin Ross and Cathy Hughes on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise.
“DEDE IN THE MORNING”
BY JAMILLAH MUHAMMAD
DeDe McGuire is a respected industry veteran and influential and entertaining host of the top-ranked Dallas/Fort Worth show, “DeDe in the Morning,” which airs on K104FM (KKDA) weekdays from 6 - 10AM. Her infectious energy and undying love for pop culture, coupled with her strong sense of social responsibility, has helped keep the seasoned, award-winning radio vet, oncamera personality and cultural critic on top. Of her numerous career highlights, she points to receiving a special guest invitation several years in a row to President Barack Obama’s White House Holiday Party, as well as being named a Lifetime Achievement Award winner by the International Black Broadcasters Association, with pride. One of the few women in this country with a morning show, in a maledominated industry in a major market, DeDe consistently dominates in the ratings as one of the top three most-listened-to morning shows in Dallas/Fort Worth.
Congrats on your phenomenal success. Where do you feel that you are with your career at this point? I’m just getting started because my goals change all the time. My goals at 21 were different than my current goals, which are always getting bigger. I’m not a fan of sharing what my goals are; just sit back and watch.
has passed away and his loss has left a void in my life. He was my biggest supporter. He was the type of person who would never hold you back. I think of him every day. He did so much for my career … I’m here because of him. Tell us about your journey into Radio. I always liked entertaining. I wanted to be a singer or an actor when I was a kid. Radio was the next best thing. Also as a military brat, my siblings and I grew up living in Germany for a few years. Radio was all that we had to keep us connected to the States. Four out of five of my siblings have careers in radio.
“Working with Doug Banks has been the most rewarding experience thus far. Doug was the closest person to me that passed away. His loss has left a void in my life. He was my biggest supporter.”
Are there any women who inspired you? My mother, of course, but as far as women in the business, [it’s] Terri Avery, Cathy Hughes, Oprah Winfrey, Wendy Williams and Dalyce “D’Lyte” Kelley. How have you adjusted to all the changes in Radio?
It’s made me step up my game in branding myself. It’s made me learn the Radio business better. I had to become DEDE McGU IRE more knowledgeable about PPM, social media and branding. Working This year we lost Doug Banks ... an as a co-host on a branded show like “The Doug Banks Radio icon in our industry. You were fortunate enough to work Show” prepared me because I had to learn how to be a brand with him on the nationally syndicated “Doug Banks Radio within a brand. It put me in hustle mode. Show.” Tell us about Doug. Working with Doug Banks has been my most rewarding experience thus far. Doug was the closest person to me who 12 | RADIO FACTS
What would you like to see changed in the industry? More PPM meters to African Americans.
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O Considering many of our Urbanbased formats (Urban mainstream, UAC, Urban oldies, gospel) target a heavy core of women, does Radio do a good job of reaching that goal? Yes, because on every morning show, you will now hear a woman. Not just a woman, but a strong woman. Women are no longer sidekicks. We are co-hosts and share an equal role with our male counterparts. The role of women in corporate America has changed. We are CEOs, CFOs, etc. Look at Hillary Clinton. Do you believe there is a benefit to being a woman in your current role. Is there a difference in the approach? Men have dominated the role that I am in for years. However, women are a little more vulnerable than men. Women are more apt to show our feelings or cry in front of our audience. All of our vulnerabilities allow women to connect better with our listeners. Men are about their ego and less willing to share their true feelings. I have learned, in order to be a great Radio host, you have to connect with your audience. I believe this makes me the successful morning show host that I am today. Name three things that are essential to being successful in the Radio business. The ability to connect with your audience being your authentic self, having mentors and good people skills. If you could trade places with one person in radio/records/music, who would it be? Beyoncé or Rihanna - both of them
are some bad chicks! Either one of them and I’m good!
Photo credit: Kauwuane Burton
Have Urban formats grown, diminished or remained stagnant in the last ten years? Urban formats have grown. When new formats like “Classic Hip Hop” and hybrid stations playing “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” are evolving, we are growing. Urban formats are learning more how to diversify music for young and mature audiences. When you hear an Urban AC like KRNB in Dallas and you hear the same format, for example, V103 in Chicago; they are very similar, but also very different. Each has to adapt to the different market or listener. V103 is very traditional — they play classic R&B — but on KRNB in Dallas, you will hear a mixture of those songs with Beyoncé and Tupac. Urban formats are growing and evolving. Who is the most significant person in Urban Radio, Urban records and Urban music today? Urban Radio is Doc Wynter. Urban music: Beyoncé, Jay Z and Drake. What advice would you give a young woman looking for a career in the Radio industry? I recently shared with a young Radio host, at a morning show boot camp event, that one can either approach Radio as if you want it to be a career or as if you just want it to be a job. If you make it a career choice, you will have more longevity. Another thing I tell women is: Please don’t ever cry in front of your boss. I also stress for them to practice. Lastly, don’t get into Radio just
“DeDe In the Morning “ Co-Hosts, comedian Michael Shawn and Lady Jade, Artist Kendrick Lamar, DeDe and show’s producer, Gary Saunders
to get into the VIP section at the club. Is there anything you wish to say to female executives in the Radio business today? Put yourselves in our shoes; help us navigate and achieve greatness. When one woman wins, we all win! If someone wrote a book about your life what would be the title? “This Bitch Is Crazy But Get Ready For A Great Ride” Any parting words for the Radio Facts Women of Color in Radio feature? I love the fact that this is about Women of Color. I salute every woman featured in this magazine. I thank Kevin Ross and Radio Facts for this honor and recognition. This is awesome. I am blown away and humbled. I hope there are a lot of women in Radio who are reading this and will learn from us. We are not their enemy or competition. We are just trying to open doors, kick doors in, destroy stereotypes and pay some bills. Women have to unify and support one another. WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 13
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O
SYBIL WILKES BY JAMILLAH MUHAMMAD
Sybil Wilkes helps to wake up over eight million people as the co-host of the nationally syndicated “Tom Joyner Morning Show.” She’s an original member of the show, initially joining as a news anchor. Wilkes is considered “the voice of reason” to show host Tom Joyner and co-host J. Anthony Brown. Wilkes began her career in 1985 as a production assistant at WKQX in Chicago before starting her long journey in news at WINKAM/FM, Fort Myers, Florida; WRCC-FM, Cape Coral, Florida; and WCKZ-FM, Charlotte. She later joined WGCI-AM/FM, Chicago, as a talk show host and, in 1990, became a reporter for Chicago’s Shadow Traffic Network. While with Shadow, Wilkes delivered morning and afternoon drive traffic updates and worked as one of Tom Joyner’s WGCI-FM sidekicks. Wilkes has numerous honors, including the President’s Award from the NAACP Image Awards, and an honorary doctorate degree from Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina. Most recently, Wilkes became a national ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise campaign targeting black women. She resides in Dallas, Texas.
Considering many of our Urban-based formats (Urban mainstream, UAC, Urban oldies, gospel) target a heavy core of women, do you believe radio currently does a good job of reaching that goal? Urban radio is doing a better job of targeting and serving the female listener, but it’s a process. Every company varies and differs in making the female a priority. Companies like Radio One
devote entire programming efforts to salute and court the female listener with annual Women’s Empowerment Expos, etc. It’s also an exciting time to see more women being promoted to real decisionmaking positions. Those who are actually living and experiencing similar activities as their listeners (and employees) are programming for them as well. That makes such a difference! WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 15
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O Do you believe there is a benefit to being a woman in your current role? Or do you feel a male can be just as successful in your current role today? Is there a difference in the approach? Working with an alpha male like Tom Joyner AND an alpha male like J. Anthony Brown, it helps to have a female perspective. I may not always express the exact sentiment of every female listener but it’s necessary to have some estrogen in the room. And while there may be some male co-hosts with more estrogen than I have, it’s never going to be the same. Name three things that are essential to being successful in the radio business today. Preparation, persistence, flexibility, thick skin, a side hustle and a great support system ... that’s more than three but all essential. Is there one person in the radio/ record/music business today you would like to trade places with for one day? I would love to trade places with Madame Cathy Hughes! She has experienced every segment of the radio business — every high and low — and she is still standing tall. What a view! What an opportunity that would be. Then I’d take what I learned that day and, along with what I’ve learned from Tom Joyner over the last 20 plus years, invest in or buy a radio station in Hawaii .... Aloha!
never stop learning or trying new things, and have a life outside of the business. If you could say anything to female executives in the radio business today, what would it be? Great job and thank you! What is it like to work with an icon like Tom Joyner? There is never a dull moment. I learn something new from him EVERY DAY. He Sybil WIlkes with has forgotten more than industry icon Tom I’ll ever learn about this Joyner. business. He is absolutely correct in calling himself “The Hardest Working I do take my responsibilities seriously. Man in Radio.” Every day, he comes to So much so that, even today, I’m work like a professional athlete. And, at holding off contributing to one young the end of the day, he has given his all. woman’s crowdfunding effort as I wait for some tuition bills and student activity What is your favorite activity statements to come in. associated with the “Tom Joyner Morning Show”? I love working with girls and boys alike. The boys generally range in age While there’s absolutely nothing from 6 or 7 to 12 or 13. I enjoy seeing in the world like the Tom Joyner them engage with each other in nonFoundation Fantastic Voyage, I really threatening situations and talk with them love the Tom Joyner Family Reunion. It about how they treat each other as really is about family. The Tom Joyner well as young girls — today and all the Family welcomes our Radio families tomorrows to come. — especially the kids! I love all the opportunities that are available for the Favorite city? youngsters — fun, educational Chicago … in the summer and entertaining … and the memories are forever! Favorite vacation spot?
“Be open, stay true to who you are, never stop learning or trying new things, and have a life outside of the business.” SYBI L WILKES
What advice would you give a young woman looking for a career in the radio industry today? Be open, stay true to who you are, 16 | RADIO FACTS
Do you work with young girls by motivating them to be successful?
Working and hanging out with children, both girls and boys, is especially rewarding. It’s not always in a formal or structured organization, but I do love it. Many of my relationships with “mentees” go back over 20 years. I do not take these relationships lightly. I warn my young friends, ‘If you want my involvement, be prepared for me to be all in.’
London Favorite book? Favorite book, seriously? You know I can’t narrow that down! Favorite quote? It’s from my late mother: “And that’s why God made erasers!” In other words, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.” This from a woman who was married four times!
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O
KAREN SLADE General Manager / KJLH Radio BY KEVIN ROSS
Karen Slade has become synonymous with Stevie Wonder’s landmark Los Angeles heritage station, KJLH, where she is the General Manager. Before her transition to radio, Karen worked for Xerox in her native Cleveland and Atlanta for a decade in various management positions. She took the position as GM at KJLH in 1989 to help address issues of concern within the Black community. Under her leadership, KJLH has earned numerous honors, including the distinguished George Foster Peabody Award and a NAACP Image Award.
KJLH (Radio Free 102.3) is the only Black-owned station in Los Angeles and has an impressive community standing. How long has the station been around now? We are well into our fifty-first year as KJLH Radio. The African American population is continuing to shrink in the Los Angeles area. Where are they going and why are they leaving? Los Angeles is a pretty expensive place to live and raise a family. So, while we tend to get an influx of folks migrating to L.A., as they begin to marry, their priorities change and they begin to look for an affordable family-friendly neighborhood. This tends to take many outside of Los Angeles, to surrounding counties or they relocate altogether to places where their income will go farther for their family. We continue to superserve those African American listeners in suburbs that still get our signal, and encourage listeners outside our signal to stay connected by downloading and listening on the KJLH mobile app. I remember hearing actor Mark Wahlberg admit on a late night talk 18 | RADIO FACTS
show that he was a big fan of KJLH. While the station targets African Americans, how would you describe the audience in terms of race and percentages?
enjoy great music! Is selling a Black-owned station in the second largest national market still a challenge? Why?
Yes, it seems we have always Our demographic has changed represented a challenge to the over the years. It tends to reflect our agencies and clients alike. We are programming and adjusts with market African American targeted and thus our changes. Our audience is predominantly programming is a mix of Urban offerings African American, 88.9 percent, with from Black Talk, R&B, Gospel and a Hispanics making up about 4.5 percent taste of Hip Hop and Jazz. We don’t fit and the balance of 6.5 percent (other) well into preconceived notions of what fluctuates over the ratings period. What is an Urban AC should be. Nor do we have interesting to note are the changes in our an exclusive niche to promote. Over the audience demographic from our various last 20 years, ownership has condensed, streaming platforms which skew younger thus our format has been embraced and 20 percent African American, 12 and packaged by mainstream media. percent Hispanic, 4 percent Asian and 62 percent Caucasian. This extends our audience 2014 Taste of Soul KJLH Stage beyond the Los Angeles market and incorporates English speaking countries, Japan and, to a lesser degree, French-speaking countries. The great thing is that African American culture and music continue to be trendsetters with “influencers” and music, making 102.3 KJLH a destination for many who
KAREN SLADE Before, we may have been competing for Black dollars with a comparable station ownership and economic structure. Now we compete with publicly-traded conglomerates that can effectively squeeze you out of the major market buys and leave you to scramble for the retail dollars. Because we super-serve a targeted audience, we continue to do well by working directly with those clients and corporations that know the importance of speaking to an active audience in the second largest market in the country by creating initiative-based multi-platform programs that meet their needs. So while it is a constant battle, we are here — in Los Angeles, the second largest market — with a community that supports us and clients that have stayed with us because they know we deliver. When you describe the station as “Urban” to potential clients, how do they respond? Interestingly, today “Urban” music is incorporated into the fabric of our society - from TV commercials to music played at sporting events — so you can’t escape the mass appeal to general market clients. They understand Urban — they get it now. However, with so many station formats incorporating “Urban” music, many ad agencies feel they can reach African American listeners by buying the top-rated stations only. It’s our job to educate potential clients by discussing the differences of stations (high duplication, inactive listening base, low TSL, etc.) as well as the value of buying a heritage station like KJLH.
touch points (on-air, online, on-site and on device). Do you think streaming will affect ad dollars for terrestrial Radio in the near future? It is impacting us NOW. Traditional ad dollars are being reallocated, or they are flat, but digital and social media ad dollars are growing. Advertisers recognize this trend and are moving ad dollars out of traditional budgets into digital to capture those listening habits. Folks are monetizing and reaping the benefits – though, in all truth, I believe it is a “learn as you go” situation for all of us. Some are just a little farther down the learning curve. Do you find that the station’s clients are interested in additional advertising opportunities online? We launched our website in 1994. It has gone through countless updates visually, and we’ve
“When I left Corporate America, I felt a strong desire to make a difference in my community ... to me, it is the guiding force that keeps me moving forward.”
Do you think terrestrial Radio should take greater note of streaming services? I believe it is imperative that we give our listeners what they want, when they want it and where they want it. Mobile is NOW! The smartphone is portable and it’s personal. Listeners can do just about anything they want to do while in motion, traveling or away from their traditional media. Desktops are far too limited in scope and tablets are more convenient but require more travel prep. We want our listeners to interact with the station on all
KARE N SLAD E
added numerous enhanced features to benefit the station’s branding efforts, client tie-ins and listener enjoyment. We launched a more robust app in March of 2016 and it has been warmly received by listeners. Our clients are comfortable with the website and our use of social media campaigns. However, because we are a stand-alone station, many advertisers prefer to purchase clusters (multiple stations, regional and national), delivering more impressions. That makes it more difficult for independent Urban stations to gain access to some digital ad agencies. What are the greatest benefits of running a heritage station? When I left Corporate America, I felt a strong desire to make a difference in
Karen Slade with Mellody Hobson (President of Ariel Investments), at the Hart Leadership Center Foundation 2016 Black Business Hall of Fame Awards. Cathy Hughes with singer Fantasia.
my community. I don’t know if this still rings true for others but, to me, it is the guiding force that keeps me moving forward. If I may be presumptuous, I would say the majority of the KJLH staff feels that same compelling desire to make a difference in the communities in which we do business. I could take that a step further and say many of our clients, large and small, understand the benefit of doing business directly with KJLH, and understand the benefits of keeping a community of people informed, employed and reinvesting resources in the community of consumers in which they do business. What exactly does “Radio Free” mean? “Radio Free” is our effort to expand the traditional concept of playing the top 20-40-60 hits every two hours to include good music across categories or arbitrary boundaries: New music, Up Tempo, Funk, Soul, Gospel, and Inspirational. Hopefully that helps. “Radio Free” means we are free to play the best music, regardless of category. We try with every song to hit it out of the box. Interestingly, KJLH was the first to launch this unique format. It has since been picked up by several CBS stations with the “Jack” (we play what we want) format. KJLH is one of the few Urban stations in the country that maintains staff for years, even decades. Which jocks have the greatest longevity? Why do you think the staff remains so loyal? I believe Lon McQue (Lawrence Williams) is our most tenured Air Personality / Operations Manager with 32 years on-air. Our most tenured employee WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 19
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O of the station is our Traffic Director, Carrie Haynes, who has been with KJLH for 37 years. I would be remiss if I did not include Al Ward, our National Sales Manager, who has represented KJLH professionally for 35 years and counting. We have had a very tenured staff. Some came to us with experience in hand and others have developed their broadcasting skills through on-the-jobtraining. Those that remain, I believe, share the fundamental desires I mentioned earlier and realize they can fulfill them here. They don’t have to go across the street, so to speak. This is not to slight anyone that leaves to pursue what they may perceive to be greener pastures, as we need African American broadcast professionals to be considered, employed and promoted in all aspects of this business, and for all companies, big and small. If KJLH can play a role in their development then we have served them well. Do you find the PPM rating system antiquated? Antiquated…interesting you would ask that. I was speaking to a group of broadcasters from the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) recently. We discussed ratings and Nielsen’s Portable People Meter system. Then we went on to discuss an enhanced method of research and ratings incorporating the smartphone as the vehicle. I believe it is only a matter of time. However, I would add the time is now! I believe it would
Scott Kevin Ross, Karen Slade and journalist A. . ration celeb y ersar anniv ’s Galloway at KJLH
20 | RADIO FACTS
provide a more accurate assessment of listener habits and preferences. How do you keep the peace between sales and programming? Believe it or not, sales and programming work very closely together. We have professionals who understand the business of Radio and the needs of each department. When ratings objectives are met and revenue targets are achieved, we all win. Not to imply that there aren’t many discussions. However, the compromises reached and agreed to really are the reflection of the managers in place, thankfully. What kind of boss is Stevie Wonder? As a boss, his philosophy of philanthropy, community and caring has set the tone for our company culture. I share many of his beliefs. Perhaps that is why I have kept my position. I have tried to implement his vision and hold true to his desires for KJLH. It would be untrue to say we agree on all things. However, I am given the opportunity to discuss, brainstorm and share in the plan before implementation — that’s all any manager could ask of their employer: to be heard, to be valued and respected. What roles would you like to see more women of color involved in within the industry? Ownership and senior level positions within companies. I believe women of color should have the same opportunities. Regrettably, that is not the case. The catch is in the experience. How do you get the experience to qualify for the top slot if you are never given the shot at the position to gain the experience?
Do you feel opportunities for women of color in management have opened up over the last few years? I see opportunities opening up on the broader spectrum of entertainment fields and that is encouraging. I also see the new media platforms giving women opportunities that traditional media were slow to address. Tell us about a few of the promotions that KJLH does within the L.A. market that are monumental for the station and community. We have our traditional/annual promotions from the Martin Luther King Day Parade and Concert to our Black History Month programs highlighting our “Proven Achievers” vignette series. Also, our “Women’s Health Expo” has grown over the years and is embraced and supported by our city, our listeners, our clients and our staff. We began a new initiative this year we call “Taking it to the Streets” which celebrates the good news within the communities we serve. Taking our studios directly to the community with a live broadcast allows “Taking it to the Streets” to work directly with local government, chamber of commerce, education and religious organizations to highlight the best of the best in the participating city. Our participation in the “Taste of Soul” in partnership with the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper is a big undertaking, supporting 350,000 consumers on legendary Crenshaw Boulevard. It is a fun day of food, music, arts & crafts, and vendors galore. As we approach the fall, we have our “Season of Giving” which incorporates our toiletry drive for the Union Rescue Mission, our “Turkey Giveaway” with partners “The Steve Harvey Morning Show,” Jackson Limousine Service and California State Senator Isadore Hall, III (Senate District 35). We will roll up this year with our 20th “House Full of Toys” campaign, culminating in giving toys and gifts to families within our community.
Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives. –Michelle Obama-
It is with great pride that
ATLANTIC RECORDS Salutes Cathy Hughes Angela Watson DeDe McGuire Karen Slade and Sybil Wilkes.
BY JAMILLAH MUHAMMAD
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O Developing talent, then watching them shine as they move on to bigger markets. It’s so exciting to see hungry young individuals come in so eager to learn and grow. Shout out to Trey White, Loni Swain and Consuella who moved on to other markets and really soared. Radio has experienced multiple changes through the years that include deregulation laws, ratings measurements, multiple syndicated brands and more. How has this affected your role in remaining successful?
Angela Watson a.k.a. “Uptown Angela” is New Orleans Senior Vice President of Programming as well as an on-air jock for iHeartRadio’s WQUE (Q93) in New Orleans, LA. She is in charge of overseeing a total of eight Radio stations. This hard working and respected industry veteran is welldeserving of being featured in our first annual Women of Color in Radio issue.
I figured out a long time ago that Radio experiences change constantly. You just have to keep up! No time to complain. Just get it done! If you could change one thing that affects your business daily, what would that be? I’d love to have a bigger budget to take care of employees who go above and beyond on a regular basis. Considering many of our Urbanbased formats (Urban mainstream, UAC, Urban oldies, Gospel) target a heavy core of women, does Radio currently do a good job of reaching that goal? I would say yes. R&B will never die and it’s a true favorite of females.
How would you describe yourself? Mom, wife, funny girl, chick with the tea, fitness pal, cool boss ... I love connecting with my audience by way of on-air and especially social media. It’s a huge compliment when listeners say they grew up with me. They are truly like family. Tell us about your start in the industry. I was a sophomore in college when I passed the library one day. I decided to read up on Oprah Winfrey’s path. I saw that she started in Radio. I went home and made a phone call to Q93’s PD at the time, Jay Michaels. He took my 22 | RADIO FACTS
call, we met the next day and I began working as an intern in promotions. Also, I was taking orders at the McDonald’s drive-thru. I was often complimented on my voice. Ironically, I’m now endorsing McDonald’s (my full circle moment)! I’ve always loved talking, too! Have you reached your goals in Radio or are you just getting started? I’ve reached many of my goals, perfecting my on-air skills, becoming PD, SVP and in my role of OM, I’m digging my heels into Country, News, Talk, Gospel and CHR. I’m having a blast! What has been the most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
Do you believe there is a benefit to being a woman in your current role? Is there a difference in the approach? Women are born leaders and nurturers. Because we are usually the captain of our household, keeping the family organized, it makes it easy to be in the role of management and at the helm of our teams. If you could name a few things that are essential to being successful in the Radio industry today, what would they be? Passion — you have to LOVE what you do. Time management — There’s always something coming down the pike. Work ahead and stay prepared.
ANGELA WATSON far as promotions go. I miss the artist promo runs where we could enjoy a few new songs on the new album. I miss seeing my record reps every couple of weeks to dine together. The budgets just don’t allow for those types of bonding elements any longer.
Angela with singer and songwriter Maxwell
Excellent people skills — Always be fair and allow for collaboration from your team. Name five women who have been an influence to you in your career. Oprah; she’s unstoppable. Nicky Sparrow, I admire that she’s strong, intelligent, handles her business with such class and respect. Monica Pierre, she saw my light early on and inspired me to allow it to shine. Barbara Lewis, she encouraged me to keep pushing through the ups and downs and treats me like family. Thea Mitchum has been such an awesome mentor, with straightforward honest advice. If you could trade places with one person in the Radio/record/music business today, who would it be? Why? Kevin Liles — he’s a monster (in a good way)! So many moving projects, so many solid relationships, he’s extremely connected to many. He inspires magically! You can’t help but feel as if you could run the world after a conversation with Kevin! Have Urban formats grown, diminished or been stagnant in the last 10 years? Well it’s certainly not the same as
Who are the most significant people in Urban Radio, records and music, respectively? Doc Wynter — he’s a Radio icon! Sharp as a tack and
“Women are born leaders and nurturers. Because we are usually the captain of our household, keeping the family organized, it makes it easy to be in the role of management.” ANGE LA WATS ON
What’s you favorite city, vacation spot and TV show? New Orleans, of course! It always has something FREE going on! The people are the most down-to-earth. We know no strangers. Everyone is family here. Vacation spot is Miami (resort area). It’s laid-back and chilled without me needing my passport. TV Show is “Ballers” on HBO. And I’m a huge fan of The Rock … so well written. Favorite book? Tyrese’s “How to Get Out of Your Own Way” — life changing! I was so inspired that I bought copies for folks who I felt needed to get the message! Any last thoughts you would like to share for the Radio Facts Women of Color in Radio feature? Work hard, believe in your strength, have no fear - be kind, be fair, be human - take care of yourself ... the world is counting on you!
he’s a firm believer of growing programmers and giving them opportunities to shine. Music is a tough one! I’m gonna cheat by saying two: Rihanna and Drake. What advice would you give a young woman looking for a career in the Radio today? Start with an internship. Once you get in the door, learn as much as you can from every department. Work hard, be accessible, be focused and stay humble. If you could say anything to female executives in Radio today, what would it be? Continue to lift each other up. As women, we are outnumbered by the guys. It’s so important that we support and continue to motivate one another.
Angela and Cash Money CEO Bryan “Birdman” Williams
WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 23
BREWTON BMI Vice President, Writer/ Publisher Relations, Atlanta
R A D I O FAC T S
RADIO NEXUS HONOR:
Catherine Brewton is an industry vet and advocate for music’s thriving creative community. She directs all of BMI Atlanta’s office outreach to songwriters and music publishers while also working closely with Writer/Publisher staff members in New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and London to bring top songwriters, producers and artists to BMI. She participates in educational, networking and showcase events, specifically designed to inform and elevate up-and-coming and established songwriters alike. She produces and hosts many of BMI’s marquee annual events, including the BMI R&B/Hip Hop Awards, the Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards and installments of BMI’s popular “How I Wrote That Song” panel series. She also served as the executive producer for the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Live 2013 album release campaign as well as the television airing of the BMI Trailblazers of Gospel Music Awards. She’s been recognized in several publication features including EBONY magazine’s “Power 100” issue and The Hollywood Reporter’s “10 GRAMMY Greats” spread.
You love to give back. Why is that important to you, especially considering how busy you are? When given a platform, it really goes back to, fundamentally, how I was raised. My mom always said to me, “To whom much is given, much is required,” and it sounds very cliché and kind of, sexy because everyone wants to say that, (changing voice slightly) “Yeah, now I’ve arrived and now I’m going to do all this work,” but this was ingrained in me in childhood, We have a fiduciary responsibility as human beings, first and foremost, to help those in need in whatever capacity helping could be. So, in the course of my childhood, and certainly now, as an adult, I found things that really mattered in my life. When my mom passed away, (December will be eight years ago) I had to step in at the helm of her center. She had a community center that’s on Brewton Drive, and I was really overwhelmed at the level of poverty that still exists in America. But also, how much of an impact that my mom had, and I think it became resoundingly clear to me, at that point, that I have not done enough. I was giving to her church and to the foundation and to their causes but my hands were not on the plow. And that has changed 24 | RADIO FACTS
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O immensely, and certainly, that was really something that probably was a green light that went off in my head. I realized that yeah, it was easier to write a check and say, “oh, I gave X amount,” and I was always a giver but to be on the ground, and entrenched in the day-to-day, it was pretty lifechanging for me. You think that industry people should definitely consider doing volunteer work and contributing? It’s SO necessary. You’d be amazed at how far 25 dollars goes. But, when you are so removed from it, you don’t really appreciate how significant every dollar that you donate to a cause is. But for those who can’t give, having hands on the ground is always imperative. Let’s talk about a few of the things that go into the process of finding songwriters — some of the trends that are taking place. What is it about a new writer that grabs your attention? It’s always about a melody. One of the most prolific songwriters I’ve encountered in the past few years who I think is just a gem is Grace Sewell. Grace is an Australian kid who moved to Atlanta about two years ago at 16. Upon my first entrée to her, she was a girl who really was not very sure of herself. But she wrote a song when she was 14 called “Boyfriend Jeans.” They laid the vocal down which she sang. I was blown away! It’s amazing how much the European culture has absorbed and studied our music. They’ve become so efficient and skilled at delivering our music. In some cases, better than we are. At 15/16, this young girl is talking about Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston and so many great voices that our kids don’t even listen to. I thought, ‘Grace is going to absolutely be a force to be reckoned with because not only is she a great songwriter but to be great you have to study the greats.’ You can’t come into the game and say, ‘I’m going to compete with the Mariahs and Whitneys’ and all you can talk about is what has happened in the last two
CATHERINE BREWTON years, musically. Grace now has an EP that is probably 80,000 in. She’s already had a number one record, “You Don’t Own Me.” Quincy Jones took her under his wings and helped groom her. So this young lady is poised for greatness. When you attend an event, on average, how many times are you approached? Oh, my God. It’s daunting sometimes because every time I’m out, it’s not in the capacity of wanting to be solicited – though I don’t ever NOT talk to
“It was so inspiring to see Gamble & Huff, Shirley Caesar and Cathy Hughes talk about all these amazing things that they’d done then say, — ‘But we’re not done yet.’” Cathe rine Brew ton
people. But I was at this recent Radio One event and Cathy Hughes and I happened to be seated with Alfred Liggins, L.A. Reid and Sylvia Rhone, my heroes. People just don’t know how to set boundaries. Obviously, if I’m in Ms. Hughes’ company you shouldn’t walk up and say, “Can I take a picture with you?” You have to understand that this woman changed the landscape of radio and the industry with Radio One. Then she said, “Hey, I’m going to start a TV station,” and TV One is now one of the premier African American networks on cable television. People don’t take the time to know who we are, where we came from and the great strides that the Cathys and L.A.s have made. They don’t know how hard they persevered to blaze trails for us coming behind them. You have to constantly recreate and reinvent. I want to ask you about the current way songwriters are paid. Do you feel that it’s archaic? I was talking to someone about the
whole recent digital change — some of the decisions that I don’t want to get into because it’s a moving target as we speak but archaic is one aspect. If you look at the pool of money going out the door, say, from BMI’s standpoint, traditional radio still is the lion’s share of the pie. People could say, “Yeah but most of the content is being consumed digitally,” but the money doesn’t dictate that, at this point, in terms of what’s going out to the creator. So as much as we talk about digital, radio is not going away. Spotify, Apple, YouTube – all of these mediums are trying to figure out how to close the gap. Until then, traditional radio is still the biggest income source for a lot of songwriters. Until digital platforms figure out how to fairly monetize the creators, we can’t dismiss what is known or what people are referring to as archaic measures. What do you think of industry entrepreneur Birdman and the recent Cash Money transaction with Apple? Absolutely brilliant. I’ve said this a thousand times: You can never count Cash Money out. Number one, Baby (Birdman) might be one of the most brilliant hip-hop guys in the game in terms of putting records together. Hands down, you can’t sell six, seven hundred million and not be that. Two, Baby’s business acumen, regardless of what people think or don’t think of it, he always knows how to get the business done. This Apple deal speaks, once again, to how brilliant he is. Older consumers often complain about the lost art of great songwriting. In comparison to the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, are we becoming our parents or is there some legitimacy to that? I certainly don’t think that we’re seeing the volume of great talent we did in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, There are jewels like Beyoncé, Drake is brilliant, Kendrick Lamar is really talented, and Adele is super phenomenal. There is definitely talent coming out in this era. But when you look at the masses, it’s not WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 25
THE QUEEN IS BACK!!!
NEW ALBUM! NEW TOUR! THIS FALL!!!
WO M E N O F C O L O R I N R A D I O
such as Atlanta, New York, and L.A. will become obsolete?
necessarily my cup of tea in a broad stroke. But I would not say it’s a lost cause. Also, this generation moves on too fast. They don’t live with talent, allow talent to cultivate and build to become superstars. Everything’s one hit and they’re gone or maybe there’s a second record and gone. You don’t see the longevity. How does BMI stand out from other performance rights organizations like SESAC and ASCAP? What’s your specialty? I think that they’re all incredible organizations. What I will say about BMI, and I think that’s why I’ve been here as long as I’ve have, is that we’re a relationships company. I answer my phone. I sometimes find it hard to disconnect. I’m getting better at that but we built our business on an open door policy. Starting my career in the late ‘90s here, I thought, “What do you mean open door? Anybody can walk in?” And pretty much, yes. That’s not as prevalent now because there are so many weirdos out there. How do people submit to you these days and what is the actual best way? Email. And we’ve got a website where people can also submit. Do you think that industry meccas
If you’ve got the God-given talent, you can be a star from wherever you reside. Now, are you more inclined to work harder if you’re in Atlanta for hip-hop, R&B and now film … or in Nashville for Country, Rock, and now to a greater extent, Gospel, and Christian music … or in L.A. for film, TV, pop or R&B … or New York which is now not as vibrant in recording because a lot of the studios are gone but the publishers, labels, and technology companies are there. You stand a greater chance of getting involved with more work if you’re in those places but I would certainly not count someone out because they are in Charlotte or Birmingham. Things are happening everywhere. I often tell people, “Be successful where you live. If you can capture your own marketplace, at least you know you have that fan base. If you go somewhere else, you’re going to be competing with the big dogs. So at least capture your own marketplace.” What do you think about Chance the Rapper refusing to sign a major label deal? Brilliant. Here again is the reality of that situation. When he did this live deal with Apple Music, one of my guys was listening and I said, “Who are you listening to?” I ended up tuning in and was blown away. Number one, he’s freaking brilliant — brilliant, brilliant!! Articulate. There is a gospel feel to his music but he understands who he is, what he wants to do and what his messaging needs to be. I applaud him for understanding that the building can’t do anything different than what he’s doing. Creatively, he wants the freedom to be able to roll it out the way he wants to roll it out. He and his project are being referred to as “critically acclaimed.” He’s my hero because he’s defying the system. The system is always like, “You’ve got to have a label deal and you’ve got to do this, this and this. Chance is like, ‘No. I don’t have to do anything. I’m going to
do it this way. If I sell ten thousand or two thousand or two million, it doesn’t matter. This is how it’s going to roll out and I’m completely okay with the end result.’ Talk a little about your TV One project that you did. “Trailblazers” was an iconic moment I applaud one thousand percent. I flew to D.C. and took a car to Maryland to sit down with Ms. Hughes. Over the course of the years, we talked about taking “Trailblazers” to TV One. They had some changes in leadership at TV One. Brad Siegel went in. Brad and I worked together on “Trailblazers” for the Gospel Music Channel; I aired the show with him for two or three years. So when he came in, Brad’s direction was more original programming and I totally understood that. Ms. Hughes was a big champion. She literally walked me into his office and said, “Brad, I want to do this.” And he said, “Ms. Hughes, what do I do? It’s coming from you? It has to be done.” It was a major, major, major learning curve because presenting live content for a room versus presenting live content for TV, those are two totally different animals. My team and I walked away from it knowing that you have to control every component. We controlled the creative and TV One brought in their production crew. There were just some disconnects, big time, in terms of what we thought we were getting versus the reality. The beautiful thing is that, in the end, the content was pretty flawless and we ended up having an incredible show. It was the first time in history for a gospel award show to trend in seven, eight countries and I want to say get 15, 20 million impressions. It was also the first time that a gospel awards show got the same number of eyeballs on the first airing as on the second. (Go to www.podcastport.com to hear the entire extended interview). WOMEN OF COLOR ISSUE | 27
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This special issue honor women of color in the music and radio industry. For this first annual issue, we have spotlighted the women who go a...
Published on Sep 28, 2016
This special issue honor women of color in the music and radio industry. For this first annual issue, we have spotlighted the women who go a...