10 Questions with ... Sonny Mac
January 26, 2016
1) What's your audience about these days?
My listeners are women 25-54, so we enjoy talking about everyday life. Anything relationship ... they love. They are very conscious of the community so they want to be updated on what's going on around town. The beauty industry is a billion-dollar business so, of course, anything fashion and beauty.
2) Did you get exposed to a lot of great radio growing up?
I did! I was actually raised on Talk radio. Every night my mom and I would sit on our stoop in Brooklyn with her little battery-operated radio and we would listen to Talk radio. I couldn't remember what the topics; I was just really infatuated with their voices. I was about five at the time when I got introduced. I was exposed to music-based radio later in life, but my mom didn't let me listen to secular music. When I got to be a pre-teen, I was able to listen to Kiss FM and then came Hot 97. That was where I was exposed to more of the music side of radio and that was exciting!
3) What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Wow! I would say the best advice I was given wasn't words it was actions. Ron "Sugar Bear" Williams (WAJZ) taught me how to be innovative. He allowed me to really see how far I can push myself if I'm allowed to. I went from working for Tom Joyner in the morning to being able to come to the sky show and do the weather LIVE two times! Jimi Jam (WPKF) introduced me to organization and my chart that I use till this day. He also told me about my accent; if I wanted to make it big I had to be non-coastal. Shawn (KFYX/KTOY) really was vocal when it came to how I sounded on-air; he really made me feel comfortable when I did two different formats in one day. He also introduced me to being an APD/MD, which I didn't care for much, but he didn't care about the complaining ... he said I was going to be well-rounded. Terry Monday (KJMM) is a ball of knowledge; we can sit for hours and talk about radio. I admire him because he is a very talented VP/PD ... always encouraging ... and that's important. All my PDs gave me a chance to grow and develop. They coached me the best they could and I took those pieces of what they said and that's what made me the personality I am today.
4) Do you have any new interests which you relate back to work?
Oh yes, I have enrolled in Paul Mitchell, a cosmetology school. The beauty and fashion industry has always been a part of me and I have always incorporated that into my shows since I've been in radio. I have a beauty segment on my show that gives tips on make-up, hair, skin care, etc. I'm not just someone speaking on it I'm actually a professional in training.
5) How did you get your air name?
It's a tribute to my father. He passed away when I was two years old. He was a DJ and a writer who had his own newspaper in Brooklyn, NY called, "The Entertainer" that covered the night life of Brooklyn. It means so much to me to carry his name and let the name Sonny Mac stand for something BIG; I owe that to my dad.
6) What types of questions come up when you are out speaking at schools?
OMG! I always get what celebrities have I met. It's a long list. I also get how did I get in radio, am I rich, and how do they get their music played. I make sure I let them know that radio is fun but it's also hard work. You have to make sure you stay fresh and relevant and that's where creativity and persistence kicks in.
7) Who are some of the people who have influenced your career other than the PDs you mentioned earlier?
Tom Joyner, who was my first commercial radio job. I was a morning show producer in Albany, NY. Listening to him, I loved how he just drew you in, was very entertaining and his back story is something I would do. Wendy Williams is also a huge influence; she is the Media Queen!
8) What are your immediate and long-term goals?
My immediate goal is to always do better than my last book! I am very competitive and a little possessive of my listeners. I love to win! My long-term goal is to be a media personality like Wendy Williams; I love how she was syndicated through her company and then took over TV. The only thing I would do different is I couldn't leave radio. It's a package deal.
9) What's a typical radio day like for you?
I wake up at 6:30, lay in bed with the Today Show and CNN on for about an hour. I also check my show prep that I have e-mailed to me. I head into the station about 8:45-9a. I grab my coffee, which is super-important. Set up my show with my show liners and put in my talk beds and elements in like my morning inspiration intro. I grab my show chart and fill it out with what I'm going to talk about. The show chart is made to organize what I'm talking about on-air. It has the breaks times and hours of my show. I then start recording my summary of my show telling my listeners what's coming up on the show and then I post it to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. After all that, I start my show!
10) Where did you come up with visually recording stuff for social media during your show? How exactly do you do your air work and that, too?
It's mandatory for us to post to FB while on-air; I wanted to do something different, so I decided to start doing video to catch those who may not be listening. They can see me as I tell them what's coming up and it really does have them tune in. Plus, I love recording myself; it gives people a glimpse into what I do. I have always been able to multitask, that is one of my strongest points. Once I get the formula down it becomes routine.
Is there anything else you would like to address?
Yes! This road wasn't easy, I worked hard and I still do. I slept on radio station floors, went without a lot of stuff, and raised two kids on $7,000 for the first six years of radio. I had a great mom who helped and felt my passion for this. My sons are grown now and they understand that things you want in life are not easy. If you are really passionate about what you do don't give up. When you do, a part of you dies. Follow your dream. I still have a way to go, but at least I can look back right now and smile because I made it past those hurdles.