10 Questions with ... Cheryl "Chirl Girl" Patterson
December 8, 2015
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
My love of radio and first experience in broadcasting began in Salisbury, NC at the Adult Standards station, WSAT. I was asked to read the names on the "Sick and Shut-In" list at the tender age of nine years old. My official entry into radio was in Chapel Hill doing Top 40 at WCHL and went from there to cover News and Sports at WSTP and playing Beach music on WRDX. I was recruited away by WSOC 103.7, the top Country station in Charlotte, to become its first African-American DJ. I two-stepped and line-danced with them for three years and left to work with "The Kevin Cooling Foxx Show" and then went on to co-host and produce "The Breakfast Brothas Morning Show" on the #1 Urban station, WPEG. After several years there, I moved over to its Urban AC, V101.9 to co-host and produce "The Tom Joyner Morning Show" in Charlotte for three years and then "The Steve Harvey Morning Show." Most recently I spent the last eight years doing midday for WBAV in Charlotte.
1) What have you learned during this time away from radio?
I've learned that people don't listen to Radio the way that they used to! People access music in so many different ways such as XM, Spotify and YouTube. Radio is now just one way of many that music is delivered to the public. And the listeners like having control over how and when they hear their favorite artists or formats. Listeners are looking to social media to give them access to the music and the artists. Consumers want to be more engaged with the music through platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope. And radio has got be just as socially engaged with artists and their listeners to stay in the battle!
2) Have you been working on reinforcing some of the skills you just mentioned and how have you done so?
Yes, I've been reinforcing my social media skills by using Instagram, podcasting, Snapchat and Periscope to let listeners share the excitement of concerts, sporting events and even marching for an end to Domestic Violence with the Mothers of Murdered Offspring. Today's smartphone or tablet is yesterday's radio studio! You can do anything from broadcasting live to producing a whole show!
3) Do you feel like you are more in touch with consumers these days?
I feel so much more in touch with the consumer now, because I've learned that human interaction is at the core of everything that we do as broadcasters, producers and jocks. And whether there is a radio mic in front of my face or not, that my voice is meaningful, valid and important. So, the universe keeps giving me opportunities to be heard and share my voice with the world. In the past few months, I advocated for homeless veterans and worked closely with The Red Pump Red Tie Affair to raise awareness about AIDS/HIV among minority females. I've even had a chance to do some theater stage work. The biggest thing I've also learned is to really live in the moment and enjoy where you are right now, because every stage of growth has important teachable life lessons.
4) Where did you get your air name?
I got my radio name from my daddy! He's from McAlester, OK and he pronounces my name like it only has one syllable, "Chirl." One day a friend was visiting and she heard him say, "Chirl, girl ... come wash these dishes!" She couldn't hear the comma! And I became 'ChirlGirl!'
5) Could you name some of the people who have influenced your air work?
Absolutely! I've been very fortunate to have some of the best broadcasters share great information with me! Bill Dollar, who was the multi-award winner for Best Country DJ in America, told me to always speak with strength! He said that when I turn on the mic to speak with such confidence that if I say "It's snowing in July!" that listeners will have to go look out the window to check for themselves! BJ Murphy taught me to speak my 'truths" on the air because listeners can hear when someone is genuine. Tom Joyner told me to "Work hard, make a difference and really have fun while you are doing it!" And Helen Little advised me to style my voice to work in any format because you never know where your next opportunity will present itself.
6) What's you're routine for show prep?
Preparing for a show is a 24 hour process, because I'm always looking for topics that my listeners will be interested in knowing about. I begin my day by reading inspirational works such as The Daily Word to enrich my spirit. Then I check out the local news to find out what's happening. I make a note of the trending topics on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. And it is necessary to know what the gossips sites are talking about on the daily! When I get to a studio, the first thing I do is go over my music for that day because the music is the reason that people listen to the radio. My goal is always to connect the music to every element of my show. "The Radio Magic" is taking all the information that I've gathered and making it relevant to the music that I am actually playing.
7) What are the most important elements for anyone going into any area of broadcasting?
One of the most important things that you need to survive in broadcasting is being technically savvy. You need to be able use every program and piece of equipment in the building. That way, you are always ready to produce whatever is needed quickly, and it is mandatory to be able to handle every platform of communication on social media. If you don't have a presence on social media, then you don't exist.
8) How do you see the future of radio?
The future of radio looks bright because the Internet is transforming it into one of the world's leading social networks. Think about it: While the screens on our phones and tablets are getting smaller and smaller, audio is expanding! You can listen and stream your favorite stations and music on every device that you own! The key to radio's success is to continue to produce good content and embrace new technology as an opportunity to expand its reach.
9) What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you in radio?
I was on the air with BJ Murphy and comedian Tone X and we were discussing body piercings. We had the listeners telling us what parts of their body they had pierced. Things took a turn when a caller showed up in the station lobby to show us her piercings! This chick came in the studio, jumped up on the desk, pulled her dress up and showed us that everything on her had a ring in it! The place went bananas!
10) Because of radio, what other opportunities have you been afforded?
Sometimes, my life feels surreal because of all of the amazing things that I have gotten to do! I've broadcast live from The Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards six times in Las Vegas and Atlanta! I've broadcast live from The Soul Beach Music Festival in Aruba. I've done my show live from The Turks and Caicos Music Festival! I've walked the red carpet at the Trumpet Awards! I got an opportunity to interview President Obama when he was running for office. I've hosted parties with Nephew Tommy, Magic Johnson, Anthony Hamilton, Chubb Rock and Mr. Cheeks. I've even had a chance to do a walk-on in a Tyler Perry play! And somewhere in Charlotte, there's a bus with my face on it! I've been very blessed!
Which profession would you have gone into had it not been radio?
Prior to radio, I was a Fraud Investigator for a major bank. I probably would have continued doing that in a teaching capacity. Either way, I would still be standing in the front of a room, talking.