“The first day I got a chance to crack the mic was the day I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.”
Starting her career at just 16 as an intern, Paris Nicolewas destined for success. She’s from Richmond, VA and a graduate of HamptonUniversity with a BA in Broadcast Journalism. She’s been featured on some ofthe top media outlets like TMZ, MTV XXL, Fox 29 and more, and she served as theofficial host of Virginia for President Barack Obama’s “DJs for Obama” campaignin 2012. She’s a community advocate and a top-rated on-air personality atPhilly’s Boom 103.9 where she hosts her daily midday show 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.She was recently promoted to Program Director of Boom 103.9 (WPHI), making herone of the youngest radio executives in the country. We give our Rising Starhonor to Paris Nicole for this year’s Celebrating Women of Color in Mediamagazine.
What’s it like to work in the Philly market?
PARIS NICOLE: It’s amazing to be able to work in such alegendary radio market. When I first moved here, I was told Philly is a toughmarket; they either love you or they hate you. I have received so much lovesince my very first day of arriving in the city. To me, it’s an honor to workin Philly radio and when you look at the careers of many of the radio greats,you’ll notice Philly is a common factor for them all.
What’s unique about WPHI?
WPHI is unique because it’s a combination of a legacystation and a new station. The call letters have a rich history in the marketgoing back over 20 years. However, the new mainstream format for Boom 103.9 hasbeen around for about two years. We are the new voice of the culture inPhiladelphia with young fresh talent that are living and breathing thelifestyle.
What interested you in radio?
I always knew I wanted to be in the entertainment industry,but since I couldn’t sing [laughs] the closest route to being on the radio wasto be a personality. I first started interning at a radio station when I was 16in high school. Getting that hands-on experience and interning in everydepartment at the station is how I found my passion. The first day I got achance to crack the mic was the day I knew this was exactly what I wanted todo.
Tell us about your coat drive.
I started my coat drive about four years ago in Virginia. Inoticed when I was driving to work there were kids standing at the bus stops inthe freezing cold without coats on. At that very moment, I realized I had touse my platform to make a difference, so I host my annual “Fly Kids CoatDrive” every year to make sure the kids are warm in the winter.
Do you work with any other organizations?
Yes, I partner with the Salvation Army, The School Districtof Philadelphia, and multiple local charities.
How important do you think it is for radio people to pay itforward?
I think it’s extremely important. Radio is a tough businessto break into, and there were a lot of people that helped me get to where I amin my career today. I feel like it is my responsibility to reach back and helpopen the door for others.
Do you have mentors?
I’ve been fortunate to get a lot of great career adviceover the years from my family. My dad, Steve Branch, has over 30 years ofexperience in the entertainment industry in owning clubs and concert promotion.To this day he advises me on my career moves. My family has always supported myvisions and dreams.
In the industry, Colby “Colb” Tyner has providedme with a lot of guidance and has been a huge influence in my career. Iwill always appreciate him and everyone that has believed in me and allowed theopportunity to prove myself and break new ground.
Do you mentor anyone?
Yes, I take every opportunity when I meet young peopleinterested in the business to give them encouragement and good advice on how toenter the business and be successful. I also mentor a few young women that arecurrently in radio. I try to respond to all emails I get about advice onairchecks, how to get started, and making the right career decisions.
What are some of the greatest lessons that you have learnedover the last few years?
Never give up. I know it sounds cliché, but inthe beginning of my career, there were times when I thought that maybe radiowasn’t for me because I couldn’t land a full-time gig. I learned that noteveryone’s journey is the same. Sometimes you may hear how something can’t bedone until it’s done. I don’t focus on negativity. I just work hard, believe inmyself and go after what I want. I was told that it’s pretty much impossible togo directly from market 56 to a top 10 major market, but I did. I would hearthere was no way I could be a Program Director for the first time in a majormarket, like Philadelphia, but here I am. I love making the impossible possibleand beating the odds.
What do you hope to achieve in the near future?
I want to achieve mastery as an executive and a talent. Ialso want to venture into entertainment television. The goal is to be on radioand television at the same time. I also want to be syndicated in multiplemarkets.
What do you have to say to other Women of Color in Media ofall ages reading your interview?
Don’t let anyone put you in a box because of your age,gender, or ethnicity; barriers are made to be broken. Keep God first, workhard, follow your dreams and, always remember – shoot for the stars, land onthe moon.