When I was younger my dream was to be a radio host. At Shelyn Elementary School I would record Hollywood Hamilton’s nightly countdown on KIISFM (what was at the time the only hip hop station that I had access to) and play the songs I liked at lunch for my classmates. I loved the feeling I got when someone would come up to me and say “I love that song!” or “What’s the name of that song? I like it!” I made it a lifelong goal to be in the position that could influence positive emotion out of the people around me thru music.
As I got older I loved going to family parties and watching my cousin Kelly DJ, he had the ultimate system with tape deck, CD player and mixer all in one big portable case, matched with strobe light, in an instant he could turn a backyard into a big party celebration with red cups, smiles and hands in the air. I started to write down the songs he would play and later save my money to buy as many CDs and cassettes I could buy at the swap meet. On Tuesdays, Tower Records had a 2 for 1 sale that I would try to get there as early for on New Music Tuesdays just to be there to grab what was new before anyone else did.
What really inspired me was discovering the Wake Up Show. Anticipating the weekly interviews, song premieres and freestyles. I loved Sway and Tek’s banter and professionalism when it came to interviews and as a girl, of course I wanted to be producer Carmelita. Religiously I wrote down the songs I loved, which became the soundtrack to my highschool days ranging from Gangstarr to Black Star to MC Supernatural Freestyle recordings.
As soon as we got our drivers licenses, the Walnut girls would jump in my Nissan Pathfinder and drive to LA to catch performances by EPMD, Jurassic 5, Medusa, Hieroglyphics, and The Pharcyde at clubs like Unity, Lotus and anything that had Polo Molina’s Grassroots Productions on it. As a tomboy back then, I would love the feeling of standing in a cypher with the boys dancing to the same songs we heard on the Wake Up Show or mixtapes we found at Fat Beats. At that time I started to wonder why radio didn’t play those same songs outside of the Wake Up show timeslot and that certain songs played over and over throughout the day. I later learned of the process of how songs made the airwaves on commercial radio stations and the business behind how songs got played.
At that point I started to research and find similar non restricted radio shows including Friday Night Flavaz, Chocolate City by Garth Trinidad, We Came From Beyond w/Mike Nardone, DJ Cheapshot’s show at UCI, and Divine Forces Radio alongside finding recordings of recorded radio programs like Westside Radio by Julio G. of KDAY 1580AM. While in the second semester of studying Political Science at UCI, I decided that wasn’t my passion, I felt like I was just memorizing books and every chance I got I put them down to listen to music and the radio programs. Instead, in my careeer future, I wanted to create similar radio programming to what these shows were, from a new generation and a female perspective. I created a site called SaveLAradio.com (now non existent) listing the various programs hoping to bring together our musical community immediately after I started my own show, which was a site dedicated to raise awareness and and promote the radio shows of similar message.
Knowing how the commercial stations were difficult to get into as a young college student, I approached the nearest station to my house which was KSAK at Mt. Sac Community College in Walnut. When visiting the station to see if I could host a show, I found out in order to have a radio show you had to be enrolled in radio broadcasting, so I enrolled in a few classes and fell in love. While I was great at memorizing books and potentially wanted to become a lawyer with my Poli Sci degree, I re-discovered my true passion of music promotion that I had since elementary school. I was now excited to go to school each day, I was learning to host, produce and write for radio and it felt great having something I produced to walk away with or an interview that I had to spend hours researching for. I didn’t mind spending hours at the bookstore covered in magazines. I was fortunate thanks to Gorden Kim to get a job at one of the first online radio stations, Onair.com as a programmer and as little as the amount was looking back then, was ecstatic to learned that you could get a job doing what you love.
Third Floor Radio was created with inspiration from De La Soul’s “Three Feet High and Rising” album and song “Three Is The Magic Number” with the 3 standing for past, present and future. I wanted to create a show that not only played the classics we all loved from Nas to A Tribe Called Quest but also showcase new artists at the time that had great new quality music including Jurassic 5, Dilated Peoples and Slum Village. DJ Vice, while still on Power 106, also promoted an underground hip hop weekly club called “The Dugout,” we partnered together on the event that was co-hosted by Third Floor Radio. Thanks to his expertise I started to learn how to produce events, even sometimes as a one woman team. I was happy to be able to showcase the performing talent of those artists that were featured on the radio show that might not have had a performance platform otherwise. I wanted the younger generation to feel the excitement we had when walking into a club like Unity back in the day, all for free or limited cover charge. On a great night we were happy to walk away with a mere $100 for a 4 hour event.
When I started working at Myspace in 2004, Myspace became my radio show but on a global platform. I started my first profile in 2003 because I wanted to promote the radio show and felt restricted by the only other social network at the time, Friendster. Coincidentally I met Myspace founders Chris and Tom around the same time of when I started my profile and learned of them wanting to expand the social network for artists and creatives. Finally we had a place where we could promote our 5-9s if we still had a 9-5 and reach a new global audience promoting whatever you wanted, in our case it was our little radio show. A lot of the first artists I got to use the site including but not limited to Mos Def, Dwele, the Black Eyed Peas and Slum Village were all the same artists that were featured on Third Floor Radio. I remember turning in the music for the first Myspace Hip Hop compilation and people asked why weren’t the “stars” on it, meaning the recognizable names that had been selling millions of records that was thought to be more benefit to promoting the new site, but the reason they were all emerging or independent artists on the free compilations is that I believed those were the artists that needed the platform, who would use it and become successful, the indie artist is who would be at the core of our user base, with the tools provided they would graduate to the next stage of their career with our help, the third floor network way. The same reason why we played new or classic artists on the radio show, those that needed the promotional platform the most.
With the new platform online and digitally I was able to showcase those that I thought were great on a global platform similar to how a programmer programs their radio show or station. Because of my great coworkers like Isac Walter or Trevor Kelley I was exposed to genres outside of hip hop and enjoyed what we worked on there for close to a decade of my career, working with artists like Drake, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Miguel early on via editorial programs or live events. I would discover artists like Phoenix or La Roux from the stereos blasting next door or viewing the next Secret Show poster shipment. Earl Johnson was there to help let me know what I should be listening to urban wise if I hadn’t already, bringing in new artists such as J.Cole in for meetings. I believed that our jobs were one big radio show on a large scale, we had millions of listeners “tune in” to what we were featuring or what free live events were coming to their city and I loved it.
Fast forward to 2013, I returned to producing and hosting Third Floor Radio last year on DJ Skee’s SKEE247 app after hearing of their Hollywood station via SKEE partners Ryan Tomlinson and DJ Skee when they came by to check out the new site. Skee and I worked together in the early days of Myspace on the “Official Myspace DJ” program reaching out to top tier DJs like DJ Khaled, Drama, Knuckles and Felli Fell to join the platform early on for mutual benefit. I would create the profiles for the DJs, give them their URL, have them verified and feature them regionally, in return the DJs would shout out their Myspace URLS on air or at events. The website and most importantly, the DJ’s followers grew exponentially, especially in the Hip Hop community. It was important to me that as soon as we launched the new platform, Skee would be the first ones to see it. At the same time, they discussed the new technology his team built that allowed their radio shows to not only be available online but mobile via both IPhone and Android devices, something at the time even the new Myspace didn’t have. I was intrigued on how easy the professional broadcasts were created from the station for distribution. I focused my energy again on hosting and producing the radio show and for the second time my passion called out to me. Working in radio has always been a dream and to have it come true all these years later in some way has an emotion that “The Alchemist” by Paulo Cauelo draws out of us.
Today marks the launch day of Dash Radio, while still in it’s early stages, the future is bright. If you are 25+, you’ll be reminded of the kind of radio that we loved, programmed by the tastemaker elite without restrictions of a playlist or explicity of the musical content alongside meaningful talk radio shows and unique specials on the various genres of stations. If you are under the age of 25, it’s discovering music on the go the way you do via your favorite blogs, digital platforms like soundcloud or twitter and not anything like the current radio redundancy you may be used to tuning out. I’m excited and happy to say “Third Floor Radio” will be one of the radio shows exclusively offered on the new Dash Radio, remaining on the pioneer SKEE247 station, our line up of guests will be what they have always been including the best from the past, present and future of hip hop and R&B.
Here are ten things you’ll love about the new Dash Radio:
1. It’s free. Not everyone has expendable money for music subscriptions or satellite subscriptions. There’s no charge here, download the app for FREE from your ITunes or Android stores.
2. No commercials.
3. Real DJs and Real Shows. Julio G., Caroline D’Amore, Karli Henriquez, East Village Radio, XXL, TechN9ne alongside DJ Skee are some of the early partner programmers alongside the current staff who “knows their shit” for lack of better words such as DC and DJ Base.
4. Real stations of every genre.
5. Mobile AND Desktop.
6. Quick changing from station to station with one click like the programmed station dashboard of your car.
7. Discover music again. Not the same rotation of music throughout the day.
8. Genre of every station for your different moods.
9. Share the song you are listening to and enjoying with one simple click.
10. Buy your favorite songs that you hear with one simple click to ITunes.
Give it a try, download it HERE. and let @dash_radio know what you think so they can improve based on user needs.
Click HERE for more detailed info on Dash Radio and read about it in Billboard Mag.