10 Rock Solid Tips for the Young Radio DJ

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Your Greatest Cheerleader is YOU!

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I was in a very interesting Clubhouse the other day and I was glad to be a silent participant and listened to what the younger generation coming up in radio had to say about the industry today.I love technology and I have taught myself everything from how to build a website to affiliate marketing to managing a server all AFTER my years of working in the industry where I have been a singer, voice talent, writer, jock, PD, editor, record promoter, teacher and business owner which is where I am now. I did most of those other things in a 10 year period at the start of my career.I was a wildcard and nobody wanted to mentor me. I was pissed off about that for a while until older white people took me under their wings. Mentors are not always defined. They can be all ages, colors and from all walks of life. They almost all have one thing in common. They see something in you BEFORE you see it.Looking back, there were no black magazine owners I wanted to model myself after. I wanted longevity, I wanted to do good business and I wanted to create a model that would outlive my generation.My predecessors didn’t have the training or the opportunities but I did and having tech opened many more doors for me along with my willingness to continue to learn and my excitement about the future. It’s now time for me to expand again and to put others in charge of this vehicle but I want to give you a few nuggets to help you get to where you want to go a LOT faster.While I was in this Clubhouse room, I heard myself many years ago saying a lot of the exact same things. “The OGs are not letting the new talent in and they are holding us back.”To a large extent, that’s not exactly the truth but it’s what we THINK is the truth because it really does seem that way. Here I will offer you a few rock-solid tips that I know FOR SURE will change your perception of the radio industry offering you greater opportunities. I mentor a lot of people and wish I had more time to help even more people but I have this vehicle to also mentor people for now. If you have any questions, email me and I will respond and keep your questions private.

Stop Waiting for Someone to Recognize You

I live in LA trust me when I tell you, you have to hustle to get what you want. If you are waiting on a PD or the corporation to recognize you or to reward your talents you are completely wasting your time. As quiet as it’s kept many of them are too busy trying to keep THEIR jobs and stay afloat in today’s climate. Instead of waiting for opportunities to present themselves CREATE them!In today’s industry, you have what your predecessors didn’t have TECHNOLOGY. Social Media is ONE of those tools, you also have Fiverr an Upwork where you can showcase your voice or production skills for greater opportunities where you can make side money and expand your leverage. The more you can reinvent yourself and NOT be a one-trick-pony, the longer your stay and success will be in the industry.

Whatever you want, GIVE it away first

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The first rule of selfishness is being an interest-bearing account where only YOU get the interest. There will come a time for the universe to collect the debt. Someone ALWAYS needs your help. Know that what you give not only comes back but it comes back in multiples.I’m not talking about giving $10.00 to an alcoholic in front of the 7-Eleven but an organization for a cause that you really care for like animals or cancer research etc. Even your time. I know from experience what you give comes full circle. There are some industry people who are selfish in their approach to success. NEVER be that person.They will always develop a reputation for being greedy and playing games and end up with the short end of the stick even if they appear to be successful.Give and when I say “give” make it from your HEART, not for Social Media points. For exle, if you donate to a cause on social media, do it anonymously. That’s from the heart but when you want people to see your name to garner likes, it’s self-serving. The rewards come from what we give in silence.Nobody has to know your good deeds besides the person or situation that you help … and the universe.

Radio is a Springboard NOT a Recliner

I could literally write this paragraph and make it the entire story. I cannot tell you HOW many times, EVEN STILL TODAY that I have seen industry people stuck in their career roles. They lose one job after working there for five years then get the same job for five more years somewhere else and the cycle repeats itself for 20 years.  Do you know WTF you can accomplish in 5 years if you drive your OWN vehicle? It will take you 20 years if you are a passenger and let a PD or a corporation drive.If you are comfortable, YOU ARE NOT GROWING AND YOU ARE GETTING OLDER. At some point, opportunities start to fade, you want to make sure you are prepared for them when they knock at your door.If you are working for a corporation that won’t let you grow and is stagnating, start the journey and look for something else. But use your job to do other related things that will make you more valuable at your next gig. If they ask you to work your ass off doing 10 jobs … that’s a blessing.Learn how to do as much as you can and get paid for it instead of looking at it like abuse. Look at it like college and a stipend instead. Those skills will come in handy down the road.The more you know translates to the more you can work. Shit, I used to ASK for more things to do and I would come in during the weekends while everybody else was out at the clubs. I wanted to learn how to run a business and nobody was going to teach me that for free so I worked for an industry magazine (when they were the Bibles)

Have a Goal and Write it Down

I used to think this meant I could type it out and put it on a vision board… NO, you literally have to put it in your own handwriting to submit that energy to the universe. It REALLY works.Write down five things you want to accomplish in the next 30 days and read that list each night before you go to bed. Like if you want love in your life. Describe what that person looks like and what kind of person he or she is. Or it could be a job opportunity that you want to describe what you want by writing it down. Watch how the opportunities start presenting themselves to you a couple of days after that.  But you have to stick with it and keep reading that list before bed and the first thing in the morning. Try it

Time Waits for No One, So Don’t Wait for Time!

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urban radio personalities, rap radio stations,r&b radio station, hip hop music radio, black female singersSet a time that you want to spend at each station. Two years is a really good starting point to see if the opportunity is a good fit for your talent.Invest in your career early on by doing more than just being on the air. Wendy Williams told me that she didn’t expect to have the TV show, she was ready to retire after working on the air for many years and close it out at her last station WBLS.But because she wrote those best-selling books during her tenure and did that interview with Whitney Houston, she opened more doors for herself early on, and when the offer came to do the TV show a whole new life began outside of radio.Frank Ski was a DJ when he was younger working in an attorney’s office. The attorney showed him how to protect his music. Eventually, he wrote a song that 27 years later Cardi B used which opened a whole new door for him. Your youth is your friend use it BEFORE you lose it. THIS is the time to diversify your skillset NOT to be waiting on a PD or a corporation to do it for you.

Have a Plan B in Progress NOW

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Things will not always be as they are right now, in your career. You will have ups and downs. ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS have something to fall back on.Ask yourself what else you could be doing in your market to build your experience, leverage, and your brand, and do it WHILE YOU ARE WORKING. Some stations will want you to tell them first and I get it … but then again I don’t. ALWAYS PUT YOU FIRST then look out for everybody else however you can after that.If you find yourself running into a wall with the station that you work at now start looking for a new gig. As a matter of fact, ALWAYS BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE NEXT OPPORTUNITY.

If an Opportunity Doesn’t Present itself … CREATE ONE

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“Seek and ye shall find …  wait and ye shall perish.” OK, that’s my made-up statement but it’s the truth. From the years that I have done this site, it’s the bold and brazen who make waves not the ones who don’t take control of their own destinies. Look at Charlamagne, Wendy Williams, and Rick Party these are solid talents who became the best version of themselves and got what they wanted.

Be Yourself At all Costs

Get to where you want to go faster by being who you really are. Most of us have spent so much time being who others have wanted us to be that we FORGET who the fk we are in the process.There is NO greater tragedy in losing yourself for the sake of others who you will later discover don’t know who the fk they are EITHER (lol). Start creating your legacy NOW. Drive your own vehicle and make everybody else a passenger or instead of making yourself a passenger in your own car.

Get a Mentor, Then Again, Maybe Not

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I’ve been in the industry for 30 plus years. This is the first time in my entire career that I have ever had two great mentors one is white and older and one is black and younger. Both are millionaires and are excellent at what they do and we exchange ideas often. I am certain that I am a mentor to them too.I hate to say it but black men in this industry don’t look out for each other enough. I’ve developed some great relationships with Black men that I grew up within the industry so not ALL Black men are like that but I have to ask other elder Black men to step up to the plate and mentor young black men and women. Everything is not all about you.Out of ALL the press releases we get about people being promoted to power positions in the industry 1% maybe 2% out of 100% are black men. That’s pretty fkn sad so I get it. Racism in the industry is alive and well and we are not afforded many opportunities and it’s unbalanced considering the charts and how many back men are the ones who bring a ton of money to the table but then again, sports is no different. Also, it is the reason you should explore creating your OWN vehicle.If you don’t pay it forward there will be a heavy price to pay where you will need people you may have ignored in your career. I was once told that this industry is like a record (I know you may not know what a 45 looks like but ask your mother if she still has some) it goes round and round and that’s true.Anyone who came close to being a mentor to me was white. Had I had a mentor, I may not have been as successful as I am because I would have been taught go-along-to-get-along concepts from their own fears OR I may have been even more successful, I’ll never know.

Never Love Radio More than it Loves You

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I’ve seen people make this mistake and literally die as a result. If you need to separate yourself or divorce radio DO IT, you can ALWAYS come back but don’t let other opportunities pass you by in the process.People who had so many other talents have been trapped by the radio game by not exploring other opportunities. Don’t believe that radio is all that you can do. It’s an addictive trap that can end up killing you. You can do MUCH more until the next opportunity comes along. In addition, the universe likes what’s moving. You are either in the race or on the sidelines cheering on those in the race and giving them water. Which one will you be?

Aim HIGH(er)

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If you have been a Radio DJ for three years, tell your boss or the PD that you want to get into management (if you actually want to). You will not get what you don’t ask for in a reasonable amount of time.Give yourself 10 years to climb the radio ladder (in total) don’t be in your 40s or 50s still working a shift if you have higher aspirations. If you WANT to be on the air for life then so be it. This story is not for you. But ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT and if you don’t get it from your current situation, start planning your move. Don’t be dedicated to a situation that will divorce you in a split second if you don’t deliver.

Take pictures for press and OWN the use of them

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This is SO important and a small investment that can pay off big. Most quality sites won’t run your press without quality images. Take PROFESSIONAL pictures every couple of years not every 10 years after you have gained 50 pounds and you look different or you are bald on the top of your head or your hairstyle is dated.I know people who are using images that are 20 years old right now in the industry. Get PROFESSIONAL pics and all the coverage that you can get from the industry trades will be available to you. Out of everybody I know in the industry DeDe McGuire is CONSTANTLY updating her pics and I see her all over social media.This is a great investment for your career. I know that there are barely any urban trades besides us and we are willing to promote you here if it’s newsworthy. But make sure your pics are updated and professional and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PERMISSION TO USE THEM.If the station doesn’t get your pics taken or promote your efforts PROMOTE YOURSELF. Send us a note about your promotion and we will post it. If the corporation has a problem with us posting it tell them to contact me.

Never Aspire to be Like Someone Else

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Charlamagne, DeDe McGuire, Rick Party, Envy, Frank Ski, and Greg Street, to name a few, are one of a kind and they all got to where they are by being themselves. Back in the day when Frankie Crocker was hot EVERY black male Radio DJ in the industry (and some female Radio DJs) copied his style. They sounded ridiculous.Be who YOU are and create your OWN legacy. Until then, we can’t wait for your star to shine. Remember it’s up to YOU to make it happen. Share this story (remember, pay it forward) and ask any questions in the comments or via email to me at [email protected].My best Kev


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