FYI “Kevsum” equals Kev’s Summary. This past week, I took a MUCH needed vacation. Actually, the first REAL vacation in 20 years of running my own business and an incredible 20th Anniversary gift. This was the very first time I have ever attended the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage cruise and while I have never been on a cruise, I could not resist the invite. I took a flight from LA to Miami, then got on the ship in Miami and we went to the Cayman Islands, Montego Bay, Jamaica and Honduras. That’s a LONG way to go by air and sea to take a vacation, I know but as they say, time flies when you are having fun and that’s exactly what happened.
My goal was to cover the event while attending but I left the plug to my Mac laptop at home, which meant I could not use my camera and the internet connection was not that great in various parts of the cruise so I realized it was in the cards for me to take a real vacation, get drunk, eat like a pig and gamble my life savings away on the ship’s casino. Of course I have more self control than that so I didn’t gamble ALL my money away. All of these pics are courtesy of my iPhone 6.
I found it odd that I had never met Tom Joyner in 30 years of being in the broadcast industry. I remember being in high school and college and reading about “The Fly Radio DJ” in Jet Magazine while standing in line at the grocery store and thinking how hard it must be to fly from Chicago to Dallas 5 days a week for years (I believe he said it was 14) and there are very few Radio DJs even in syndication who have been around as long as Tom. He told me, “You’ve been in radio a long time haven’t you?” I said “Yep, so have you…” he then said “No, I just started.” (lol).
The initial impression I got was how great it was to be around so many positive and happy black people and culture. Everything in LA is so spread out and you have to literally drive for miles to find black culture unless you live in the few areas that it exists. If I was to use one word to describe my trip, I would say it was inspirational, productive, educational and energizing. Oh that’s four words. I met a LOT of GREAT people, new contacts and gained an incredible amount of perspective in just one week. The most memorable was the Art Auction where I met a man named Jonathon Romain who is around my age who was selling his paintings. He had a very interesting background (look for a full interview in the June Issue of Digital and Radio Facts ) and as some of you know, I am also an artist, painting and sketching but I have not been working on it for a while because a “friend” who’s wife is a painter told me artists never make money so it’s a labor of love with no return but after talking to Jonathon and a couple of other artists on the ship, I was told that’s what people say when they don’t sell their own art (lol). I was greatly inspired to continue to do my work after that conversation considering I HAVE sold a couple of pieces of my art. During the art show Reach Media hosted a Meet and Greet where I got to meet and catch up with industry people that I hadn’t seen in years or met for the first time, Celebrities and Sponsors. CL Smooth (Pete Rock and CL Smooth) was telling me how he is still touring especially overseas and how he feels about today’s industry and I met Avery Sunshine and talked about her music and her performance on the cruise. I also met DJ Nabs who did an incredible set on the cruise and many other industry people I have written about in Digital and Radio Facts but never met.
There was absolutely no shortage of comedians that told some of the most hilarious jokes and J. Anthony Brown was a smash hit. He completely let loose and was very X-rated but he repeatedly won the crowd over whenever he was on stage. Sybil Wilkes did an art auction and she too was hilarious. Of course whenever Tom appeared the crowd went nuts showing their love and appreciation for him and the TJMS.
Every night had a theme and I was not prepared. There was the all red night, the all white night, throwback night, favorite Celebrity Night and even a Pajama night which was the MOST interesting. Coming from the Pacific Time zone and going through so many other time zones, my sleep was off and I would get 3 or 4 hours here and there because I didn’t want to miss anything MISTAKE… One must get one’s rest and it was easy to do so because the cabins were quiet and the ship felt like we were floating on air for the most part. There were also MANY great seminars where I learned a lot of valuable information from. The writer Zane was present and I was going to congratulate her on her success during one of her seminars and low and behold she was selling her new line of vibrators and dildos. I was wondering why the whole room was full of women. Is that market REALLY that hot? I know Khandi Burress sell a line too.
While we have a GREAT time. The cruise was to help The Tom Joyner Foundation. (Founded in 1998, the Tom Joyner Foundation has raised more than $65 million to help keep students enrolled in black colleges. It has assisted more than 29,000 students and worked with more than 100 HBCUs. You can learn more at https://tomjoynerfoundation.org)
This is a great effort considering I myself went back to school to get a degree (graduated this year) and I was incredibly disappointed to see how black students had to compete for grants and funding with foreign students and had to wait in line to get classes over them. In addition , I try to tell many older Radio DJs to consider going back to school as well. I had to set an example instead of telling others to do it.
Tom broadcasted the morning show live from the event and every element of the morning show was used in some capacity during the cruise. I honestly didn’t know so many people were involved in the show. The food was great, the entertainment was also amazing. That was the fastest 8 days I’ve ever seen and the staff was outrageously hospitable. They called me by name and spoke everyday. Carnival deserves KUDOS for their well trained staffs. Everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Earth Wind & Fire performed and Fantasia was probably the best performance hands down closely followed by Eric Benet. She really put on an amazing show that left the CROWD exhausted and Eric sang like I never knew he could sing, Kenny Latimore was also great along with Chrisette Michelle who seems incredibly shy off stage. I kept hearing people say, make sure take a couple of days off when you get back home to catch up and I now know what they meant. I am fighting a cold because I came back in full swing and made a stop in Atlanta after the cruise.
Provided I am invited next year, I’ll be more prepared. Finally, I along with a few other exclusive media folks enjoyed a great private breakfast with Tom where he informed us of all the things that Reach Media is working on, the company’s goal and mission. I would strongly suggest that you consider taking this cruise next year and support The Tom Joyner Foundation. I’d like to thank Tom Joyner , Marty Raab, Kelly Harrington and David Kantor and the entire Reach Media staff for treating me like a king and making sure that I greatly and enjoyed my trip. See MANY more great pics here
Kev Ross in Montego Bay