Pennies from Kevin: My Favorite Urban Radio People…

(or at least around Urban Radio)

Just flipping through the dial, I realized I haven’t listened nor have I been ready to listen to radio for a minute, I know what turns me off, but what turns me on when it comes to radio? A few things. I love to hear a woman with a voice that is natural and warm. The fake, diva, super sexy vixen doesn’t work because usually the women who sound like that look like dudes with big backs. As far as a man, someone with a sense of humor, laid back and confident. Once again,yuckers” or Billy Dee types are dated and dead. (laugh) I knew a brother that was an announcer in LA who had a voice so deep, it was almost unbelievable. You would expect a brother like that to be 6’3 and 240. This brother was 3’6 and 24 pounds. I busted out laughing in his face when he told me who he was. I didn’t mean to, I couldn’t help it.

(pictured: Wendy Williams, Rick Party above)

Today’s key is announcers who talk to the audience like they are talking to one person, a friend. It’s been a minute since I’ve heard either on the air. If I had to chose the two announcers who epitomized these traits, one would be Carol Blackmon. She’s from my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. and she probably has the most natural, cool, laid back voice I’ve EVER heard in radio. Nothing plastic or phony. The fact that she’s not on the air right now is unfortunate. Diana Steele is another one. I worked with her at KKBT in LA. I was shocked when I finally met her and found out she was a white woman. She has the most relaxed, laid back, black woman’s voice, I’ve ever heard as well. Egypt, she is not only a GREAT announcer but she is probably one of the best looking female air personalities EVER. I like her tenacity and her ability to switch between radio as a background option and TV and Film, her real passion. I don’t know many announcers that can do that. Another one of my favorites is Wendy Williams, everything is exaggerated with Wendy, intentionally, and she has always acted like a star even when she was a lowly urban radio announcer (laugh). This is the only woman I know in the industry that has balls (crowning herself the “Queen of all Media”) comparing yourself to Howard Stern, are you CRAZY… yes, she is. I LOVE IT… Wendy invited the Brittenum twins on her show (the guys that sang on American Idol and later were discharged for previous crimes) At any rate, they brought her flowers and she was thanking them, before they could sit down she said “Um, I heard you guys are queens!” They were shocked and didn’t know how to handle it. You had to laugh.. Wendy is a star because she is not afraid to push the envelope. I love that in people but especially BLACK media people. I also have to give her boss Vinny Brown a lot of credit because I don’t know of many urban programmers that would allow an announcer that much freedom and the opportunity to outshine the rest of the staff. If the goal is simply to win then he wins that award hands down (sans PPM stats… for now). In all honesty, I’ve seen women like Wendy get fired and they were never heard from again. Wendy deserves every bit of her success . Miss Sophia has not been around long and it’s VERY unlikely you will see ANY press on this act in ANY other black trade pub and since I am the only blog I guess this is it for now. Sophia is fairly new to the radio arena and is featured on V-103. Miss Sophia IS a drag queen/female impersonator. I’m not into “vicious” humor where people’s feelings can be hurt by any comedian, I just don’t like that shit but I give Sophia a lot of credit for being outrageously bold, a pioneer in Black radio and funny at the same time. While Sophia’s garb is usually an old church lady act, he/she actually threw the dice and took a HUGE gamble when he/she came out during the Alicia Keys V-103 event to a packed house of everything from sophisticated to hardcore hood women and men. Sophia was dressed in CASUAL women’s wear. This was definitely a case where fame conquered morals, values or opinion. There was an immense and uncomfortable silence in the audience of mostly, if not all black people when Sophia was on stage but he/she managed to still be funny and win the audience over. V’s success is based on their ability to connect with the Atlanta audience, super soul sisters, fine shapely sisters and the morbidly obese sisters who would be harpooned and put in a cage like a freak in a place like LA. Atlanta also has a HUGE gay population and V includes that in their target as well. If Atlanta became the new Midget Mecca, V would find a way to market to them too (laugh). The station sounds HUGE, HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE and beats the hell out of all potential competitors who play it typical and safe (yawn). I honestly believe this is why radio is headed towards life support.

(pictured above: Skip Cheatham, Egypt, Jamillah Muhammed)

Programmers like Reggie Rouse and the GM Rick Cafferty GET it, they should bottle it and sell it to other stations (laugh). I also admire Skip Cheatham@ KKDA in Dallas. That looks like the BEST market for black announcers and newscasters to work in. I hear they pay OUTRAGEOUSLY well in Dallas. Skip and I started out in radio around the same time and many years ago he told me that when he started he was so poor he could barely eat. Yes, we all had those park-around-the-corner-so-the-listener-can’t-see-your-car days. To see how far he has progressed over the years is amazing. The music director at the station Nate Quick and I started at the same station the same year. A station I like to simply call “Nam” Atlanta’s WIGO. Dorothy Brunson was the meanest…… bite your tongue Kev, Bite it….. OK. She was mean and not worth the space! Nate has also made great strides. I admire Michael Saunders in Florida, because when things were challenging for him he managed to pick himself back up and start over. Aundre`Russell at KJLH in Los Angeles, one of the most down to earth HONEST PDs I’ve ever known. Jamillah Muhammed and her ability to morph into various management positions and markets with ease. Keisha Monk for aiming straight for the top and not remaining stagnant. Rick Party, for starting his own conference “I Rock the Mic” that is NOT an easy task. Rick is a true entrepreneur and I’m confident his conference will continue to grow. Doc Wynter, cause he’s always been humble and down to earth. Even with is success, he still manages to maintain who he was almost 20 years ago when I used to take his stations reports over the phone at Urban Network…. to all the people I have talked about above, please send your check or money order to Kevin Ross… (laugh)

(pictured above Miss Sophia with Beyonce`)