(photo: Richard Louissaint)
While I take great pride in what I do, my only competition is the personal standard I set for my work. I don’t feel like I need to be the only game in town and I actively big up other people even if we’re doing similar things. I don’t have much ego or self-importance when it comes to my art, and in this age of online superstardom it’s been tough to just find normal people who are grounded while producing dope content. Through a number of shared associates, TK In The AM was a show I kept hearing about and finally decided to check out, hoping to enjoy it because my weird rule of networking is we cant really rock if Im not feeling what you’re doing or vice versa.
As fate would have it I was pretty blown away that there was a kindred spirit out there who understood everything I aimed to do with creating radio (real talk, humor, left of center music) and Im not ashamed to say she does it better than me when you factor in how in tune she is to current events and matters of substance (suffice to say, not quite what I do). The next step was throwing up a hail mary and reaching out in hopes she would check out what I had going on (often like pulling teeth even with the people who already know you online). Testament to her generosity and curious nature, she kept her word and wound up enjoying Go In Radio as I suspected she might. We’re now mutual supporters, I tune into her live show each time Im by my computer and I’m humbled that she’s excited to hear whatever craziness I’ll say next.
TK took a few moments to talk to me about her show, her history in radio and a bunch of other things after a long day of helping a friend move, proof that a lot of you motherfuckers aren’t as busy as you pretend to be, but I digress. I hope you enjoy getting to know about her here and eventually become listeners due to my recommendation. Should I ever quit my operation I’ll know the people are in good hands with her on the airwaves.
Who were your original influences as far as broadcasting is concerned?
I always think of Wendy Williams first. There are different stages of Wendy, I would like to clarify and say early 98.7 Kiss FM Wendy when she first got to New York I know she was crazy and probably coked out half the time but if you can function on that level then you are a superstar. I’m not as crazy about TV Wendy Williams and when she was on 107.5 WBLS, but I respect whatever hustle it takes. The next person is mother Oprah, I don’t agree with everything she says but she paved the way. An unconventional influence is Lucille Ball because she was one of the first TV bosses, she co-owned Desilu Productions with her husband as a B actress doing I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show. They were like “We’re doing all these shows, we might as well open up our own studio” which is kind of what we did with Bondfire Radio. She went from B actress to a boss signing all of the checks, that’s a huge inspiration for my life.
Also Angie Martinez, she’s the radio everyman. Everybody comes up there and if you’re an artist you don’t feel threatened talking to her, she’s gonna give you some good questions where you can speak and have your moment, but for the listeners she asks just the right questions to make you feel like she kind of went in even though behind the scenes she’s probably like *wink wink wink* “I’m gonna ask you this”. She makes you feel good as a listener and as a subject.
What would you say are some keys to compelling broadcasting?
Consistency, come on the same time every day. Just because you’re online radio doesn’t mean you can take a break or say “My show was on at 8 last week, I’m gonna push it to 8:30 because I don’t have time”, you have to make time because this is a time driven medium. If you come on at 7, then you come on every week or every other day, your job is to show up consistently. You also have to be consistent in programming with your format and conversation, if you’re that guy then be that guy. If you want to change it up you have to be smart about it. You cant just come in there and be a nun when you were mad raunchy before, do something in between.
Also there’s interactivity, we have the chatroom which is awesome and I love how people reach out and communicate to us, we love communicating back and I think that’s the thing that drives our show to be better than a lot of other shows. It’s a live, consistent, interactive experience.
What’s been the secret to your show blowing up in less than a year?
Word of mouth for sure. It’s hard to get people to do anything, but once we get one they always bring a friend and there’s that other layer where the listeners become friends with each other. They’re tweeting each other, talking amongst each other in the chatroom and hitting each other on Facebook after the show. When we talk about a topic they weigh in too and find out they have something in common or at least a good argument will come from it. I think that also drives them to come back, wanting to participate where you weren’t always able to participate in regular radio and TV. Now we’re opening up those floodgates again.
You’re on the scene quite often in NY at different events. What inspires you to stay on the scene?
I love ambiance and events as far as hosting and doing panels. Interacting with humans, there’s an exhilaration you get when you get on stage. The host sets the tone for the whole event, I love being that first person to grab the audience, make them smile and get them juiced up before the artist comes out and hopefully they don’t ruin it for me (laughs). Also we do a lot of community service with Bondfire Radio and I just think it’s important to do, I don’t have money to be giving away and putting in a basket at church but I have time. Why not give time that’s tangible and that I can see somebody was affected by? It feels good to help someone else, whatever you can do whether it’s buying a homeless dude a Snickers bar or buying him a bottle of liquor. That liquor could save him because the withdrawal from alcohol is a problem, but that’s a whole other story (laughs).
What initially inspired you to create an alternative form of radio?
I have no idea, I was one of those kids that really loved music and the radio. I was loving that there were people on the air who enjoyed interacting as much as I enjoyed listening. They were giving away prizes and doing things to make people feel happy, and then they brought the music. I would make pause tapes and instead of letting it have a straight mix I would jump in as a fake announcer, I was doing that when I was seven or eight years old. I think it just stuck with me even though I had periods in my life where I wasn’t even thinking about it. Once I made the decision in college to go all the way, I’ve never looked back. To start a radio show from scratch and build a studio makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing with my life.
Similar to my show, the music you play isn’t the every day material that people are accustomed to always hearing. How do you stay up on slept on artists?
The artists are either someone I know or someone that knows someone, this is a small world and when you’re doing events you’re going to bump into people. I’m discovering music all the time, but I would have to give a lot of the credit to my co-host Conscious who’s also my music supervisor. He’s one of those guys who virtually digs crates online, he looks through Soundcloud and continually clicks music until it hits, then he asks me “What do you think?” It’s gotten to a point where he knows my tastes and I trust him to take the show in a great direction.
We’ve been able to mix it up to where we’re not just killing you with brand new electro-black-neo-future soul shit, we’re also bringing you some old school, a tiny bit of mainstream and keeping a nice little mix so if you’re body rolling at your desk it’s appropriate for you at work or if you want to turn up a little bit, we’re gonna give you that balance from conscious to ratchet every day.
You have a unique way of injecting humor into the news and more serious topics that makes me want to hear what you have to say. How do you balance the conscious material with the ratchet talk?
I don’t know about balancing it purposefully, we kind of take the days of the week as where the temperature will be. We try to keep Mondays chill, easy and low key, we’re not going too hard. Wednesday is hump day so you want to turn up, we have Air Out Wednesdays to get your blood going and then Fridays are sometimes no holds barred. When crazy shit happens like R. Kelly and Lady Gaga on SNL, I had to turn up on that (laughs), wherever the world and current events take us, you get a natural reaction. I’m not gonna stifle myself but I’m also mindful that Mondays you might not want to hear me cursing in your ear but Friday when you got your check and you’re ready to go, then I’m turning up for you a little bit.
What would you say separates TK In The AM from other shows?
I think as far as morning shows go we’re getting to a place where we can be compared to other people a little bit, and it’s cool as shit. I think that’s what separates a lot of radio shows from each other, can you be put in a upper echelon or are you just a needle in a haystack like a lot of these other shows? With online radio you become a needle in a haystack, you have to do giveaways to make yourself stand out but we just do what’s organic to us. We bring people on the show that we enjoy and talk about stuff that we enjoy, it’s no frills and it’s fun. I think people miss normal people having fun and making them laugh.
You’ve been very passionate about what’s been going on with Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Take me further through your feelings here.
It’s a lot, but I’ll say it’s gross when you have this island which is inhabited by people that look alike on both sides and you’re telling me that I cant stay on your side of the island because I was not born there. That’s racism against yourself, which is bullshit and it goes really far back to the revolution and the 1937 Parsley Massacre. There were Haitians executed and it continues to happen every day with people being exported, and it just doesn’t make sense to me. My brain does not compute how that could be an accepted thing, and I live in (Amerikkka) so I should know better that this is a normal thing. But for some reason my brain is not computing how we can both look the same and you can kill me or send me back to wherever you say I came from. I don’t think it’s fair, people don’t need to be going through the bullshit just to feed their families.
Tell me about your event coming up out here in LA.
I’m excited, every now and then I take a long weekend to go somewhere and the work never stops so we’ll be broadcasting partially in New York and partially in LA and after that I’m having a lunch meet up for my West coast listeners. Slowly the numbers have been coming up and I really appreciate them because we come on at 10 AM Eastern which is 7 AM out there, to see yall in the chatroom or tweeting us at that time is a huge deal. I just wanted to meet folks in person as much as I could, have some lunch and see what they look like. Note: we’re all getting separate checks at lunch (laughs).
What would you say is your end goal with broadcasting?
Last year was the start of TK In The AM and Bondfire Radio, of which I’m now a part owner. We’re building new programming and every month we’re adding one to two new shows. I didn’t even know this would be a thing that was going to grow the way it did, but when you have enough people that are down for you that want to do more than TK In The AM, I was like “We need to grow this.” Last year I didn’t think I was going to be a radio station owner, that was not a part of the equation but now it is and I’m running with it, so my goal is to provide the best programming possible that wont zombify our listeners. I want to give them input and joy, I’m just trying to bring joy to the people out here and do the Lord’s work as far as broadcasting goes (laughs).
If there’s anything else you want to air out, feel free.
I just want to say thanks to my team for building this thing and doing it for pennies on the dollar, we haven’t had dollars and we’re still working on that. Also the listeners for sure, they keep coming back to tell us what they want to hear and we’ll keep bringing it.
TK In The AM can be heard live Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 AM to 11:30 AM EST on Bondfire Radio, with rebroadcasts available on iTunes .