10 Questions with ... Angelique Perrin
June 28, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
I was a theatre major who literally was discovered and placed on the radio. My senior year of college I was the hostess at the Airport Holiday Inn in Greensboro, NC. I was serving coffee with one of my silly accents. Little did I know the guys on the other end of my silly were a PD and morning man. It's like one of those old Hollywood stories but without the three-picture deal with Paramount, fame or money. I did go on to produce and co-host mornings shows in WPEG/Charlotte and KPWR/LA. I was the announcer for the Keenen Ivory Wayans Show. My character, Aquanetta, was the voice of BET's Comic View for many years. I've produced a few syndicated shows including The Countdown with Walt Baby Love. And done some really, really cool cartoons.
1) What can you tell us about Café Mocha?
When Sheila Eldridge came to me with this concept, she wanted Cafe Mocha to be a home for progressive women of color to come and laugh, think, grow, cry and connect. And that's what we've created. It has been a labor of love that she's put her heart and soul into and it's paying off. The show has amazing numbers in New York and is frequently #1 in its time slot. Young new syndicated shows come and go, but Sheila has kept us on the air with affiliates and sponsors engaged for almost seven years. We're still here because she knows there's a group of women and listeners who are being vastly underserved. Between the music, guests and topics Cafe Mocha attempts to reach them.
Cafe Mocha is hosted by comedienne Loni Love of Fox TVs The Real, Grammy nominated Rapper YoYo, and the chick who does all the work behind the scenes and makes them look good, Angelique Perrin. What? Even they will admit it. The concept is that we're playing good R&B music and in between chatting about what's on women's minds. Maybe we're talking to President Barack Obama about our country or maybe we're talking to Cedric the Entertainer about how to keep marriage sexy. Billed as a show for women of color by women of color, this really is a show for everyone.
We're kicking off the summer at the Essence Festival. Then we're headed to Atlanta to have fun with our affiliate WAMJ. We'll be hosting their "Wednesday Wind Down," Loni will do an open mic night and then on July 7th we'll host our 3rd annual Salute Her Awards Atlanta Presented by McDonalds.
2) You career synopsis is amazing; could you elaborate on things you have done or are in the process of still doing?
I've been accepted to the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Journalism. This summer I'll begin pursuing my Masters in Specialized Journalism. The school and program are amazing. Julie Chen and Les Moonves just plunked down a ton of money on a media center that would probably put CNN's newsroom to shame. I can't wait to get in there and add some video production skills to my radio skills. Upon completion, I want to teach on the college level.
And last year a cartoon I've been working on earned $157,000 on Kickstarter. We just finished the pilot episode. It was six years ago that LeSean Thomas of The Boondocks and Black Dynamite came to me with his idea. He had a few drawings and I lent my voice to the main character. Flash forward to 2016 and Canonbusters is fielding offers for season 1. I star as Sam, a companion bot who gets separated from the Prince she was built to protect. Six years ago this show never would have happened. Despite our credits and experience, Hollywood wasn't interested. But the people were, they spoke and supported us. There are so many dreams getting financed by crowdfunding and that's what makes this project a deeply personal victory for me. It's proof that we no longer need permission from the establishment to create our art.
3) Have things changed for women in radio?
It is great to see more female PDs out there, but as I look at the terrain not much else has changed. Most women are still hired to play side chick to the morning man. With the surge in celebrity talent, it is most discouraging to see these women with decades of experience play sidekick to a man with one-quarter the experience for one-quarter the money. In the early days of pitching Café Mocha, some PDs literally said, "No one wants to hear a bunch of women on the radio." Since then, two new female shows have popped up on TV "The Talk" and "The Real." Loni Love is actually the anchor for "The Real," which returns in September. Radio needs to catch up to the times especially in the Urban format.
4) What are some of the most fun things you have done?
The most fun things in radio always involve the really great things we do for the listeners. If you've done one concert or interview, you've kinda done them all. But shutting down Magic Mountain and giving listeners a private experience like KKBT/LA did, that was fun! Anytime I get to give away a car; that is fun. Though I do remember at KPWR/LA me and the Baka Boyz gave away a Jeep and months later I saw the girl in the mall. She said she couldn't afford the taxes on it. Oops.
5) What's your advice for air personalities wanting to get into this business?
Learn your craft. No matter what business you're in, you have to know your stuff. There's no question about that if we're talking about doctors and lawyers. Somehow when it comes to entertainment people think they can just show up and be superstars. Thanks to reality TV, that is partially true. But if you want to last and make a living at it for 30 years, you have to find a mentor, find a station and learn as much as you can about the job and the business. It's a lot harder now because weekend jocks are beamed in from New York and overnights are pre-recorded or jock-less. But it's also a lot easier. If you have a solid mentor and a good mic, you can launch your own show. I know a couple of people who have gone on to great success like that and at least one radio group is scouting their talent from podcasts now. Just make sure you have a professional who sits down with you to keep you on track. And network, network, network.
6) What frustrates you the most about radio and the music industry?
That we are reactive instead of proactive. Napster. PPM. Pandora. We only change when we are forced to and the changes come from a place of fear. In our every day lives we know how changes like that work out. The entertainment industry contains some of the most creative people in world, so why are we still doing the same things we were doing 20 years ago? Why are we expected to pay our money to see X-Men 27? The great thing about radio is that we don't have a $100-million budget at stake. On the local level, we can afford to take risks and make changes to see if they work. But we don't. 'Cause most of our stations are run by people across the country who know nothing about the day to day of this town. I mean except what they read on a piece of paper.
7) What do you think has had the largest effect on radio?
Social media is an extension of my radio show. I love it. Back in the day, if I saw something crazy on the freeway or had a ridiculous date, I couldn't wait to get on the air to talk about it. Now I don't have to wait. The comedy begins immediately. Or I can tease and tantalize online and then the pay off will be on the air. Plus, it gives us the opportunity to connect with listeners on a much deeper level. I just think jocks have to remember not to use it strictly as a promotional tool. Social media only works for us when we give a glimpse into our personal life. I said a glimpse! I notice jocks either reveal way, way too much, so there's no mystique or they reveal way too little so it becomes like a flyer or commercial.
8) Could you share with us those who have helped shape your career?
Well, I guess I have to start with the guys who discovered me in my polyester hotel uniform, Chris Bailey and Shelly Bynum. All the crew who groomed me in NC and continue to be friends, mentors and supporters: You (Sam Weaver), BJ Murphy, Skip Dillard, Cy Young. NY Radio Vet Johnny Allen for getting me my first full-time gig. My multi-format PDs who didn't see a problem hiring a little Black girl to do Rock or Pop or Hot AC -- Bruce Wheeler, Bill O'Brien, David Felker. I would not be syndicated without Tony Gray and June Brody. And then there are the folks who continued to believe I could create, write and produce long and short form programs -- Terry Foxx, Kirk Stirland, Eric Caver, Sheila Eldridge and my partner in crime Walt Baby Love. I have fond memories of all my PDs. Michael Saunders and ex-wife Stephanie Mills were incredible supporters. She made me believe I could do anything. Rick Cummings and Steve Hegwood really helped me understand the big leagues and what would be required not just on the air, but mentally. Robert Scorpio, Tom Calococci and Tawala Sharp trusted me and let me be me on the air. I love my Baka Boyz for giving me the shot at doing mornings in market #2 and calling me fat every day. My biggest cheerleader, road dog and friend Tre Black was the person I concocted all of these dreams with. We sat in NC dreaming of becoming syndicated, doing mornings in NY, turning my characters into cartoons and we turned those dreams into reality. I will continue to do so without him. #RIP
9) How does the future look for radio?
I taught at my alma mater a few years back and the head of the communications department was advising the students not to go into radio. I'm like as long as radio is free, then people are going to use it. People like free. The future of radio depends on how long it takes for these hedge fund types and investors to get bored with us. For some time now, our business has been run by people who know nothing about it and care nothing about it except for how much money it can make them. Radio is a creative art; it requires an intimate knowledge of the music, the people, the neighborhoods. Once again, things that the guy in the black suit could care less about. He's the guy who keeps scaling back and simulcasting shows and paying us 20 bucks to voicetrack because nobody will know or care. But even if listeners can't put their finger on it, they do know, which is why they're taking their business to other free services like Pandora which is also available in the car. As people on the creative side of the building, we are being held hostage until this phase is over. As broke and in debt as some of these companies are, it can't be long before we get our beloved radio back and hopefully it won't be too late to revive her.
10) Would you share your challenges and how you see yourself growing?
I've got a VO agent. I'm sniffing around the local stations to see if anything exciting opens up. I'm spending a lot of time with family which is its own challenge. I will be incorporating some TV stuff soon and I will continue to produce Café Mocha with YoY o and Loni Love.
I got into this business doing exactly what I wanted to do making up funny stuff for morning shows. I'm a performer, so I know a part of me is always going to want to perform or write and produce content to be performed. My new level of performance is a captive audience called college students. They're fun. And somebody's got to teach them radio.
What Are some of your all-time favorite Songs?
Sade, "When Am I Going to Make a Living" is a song about holding on to your dreams and not allowing the business to break you or change you.
Luther Vandross and Martha Wash, "I Who Have Nothing." I'm not really even a Luther fan, but it's such an incredible love song. Working in entertainment, you always have to wonder what people's motives are.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, "Riviera Paradise" reminds me of my days in Classic Rock. As I was walking out the door at my Urban station headed to the Rock station someone said, "How can you stand to play that stuff?" It's that limiting attitude that keeps people in place and from growing. It is why I always keep a diversified portfolio. My Urban job is Café Mocha, but until the massive layoffs I also worked for many years doing Dial Global's 24/7 Hot AC format. Oh and the song, "Riviera Paradise" is so smooth, sexy, complicated and clearly derives from where all Rock comes from -- the Blues.