On December 19, one of New York’s Top R&B radio stations, WBLS will take over the Prudential Center for a special one night only musical spectacular for Christmas called “Christmas in the City”.
Some of the biggest names in R&B will hit the stage including New Edition, Monica, Tyrese, Jaheim and Patti Labelle. We caught up with Deja Vu one of the on air personalities on WBLS’ “Quake’s House Afternoon Show” to chat about the concert, and more.
What are you looking forward to seeing most at the Christmas in the City concert?
I am looking forward to seeing New Edition because those were guys that were kind of like in my era (laughs). I’m super excited about seeing them and doing some of the dance moves and everything. But of course you can’t forgot about Patti Labelle she takes it to a whole other level, and of course when she hits those notes, and when Auntie Patti kicks off those shoes, it is going to break loose up in there. So it’s gonna be an amazing show.
How long does it usually take for WBLS to plan for a concert like “Christmas in the City”?
Well it probably takes about three or four months for this particular kind of show. This wasn’t one that we are putting on all together ourselves, so it was a joint venture so it was a little less work on our end. But when we do something, similar in the sense to Hot 97 Summer Jam then you’re gonna do that for about a good nine months and then execute it. I don’t think this one took that long.
What surprises do you think we can we expect at the sow on the 19th?
Well you never know who’s gonna pop out. I mean you have Tyrese. Tyrese can bring any of his guys like Tank or Ginuwine out there. Jahiem might represent and someone else from Jersey could come on the stage you never know. Monica she has a whole host of artists that she performs with. So we don’t know who’s coming just yet but be on the lookout for some unannounced visitors.
Can you tell us what made you want to pursue a career in radio?
Well I’ve always been a talker. The girl who loves to run her mouth that would be me. I love the power of the microphone and being able to impact people just by the words that we say and being able to have a positive influence in our community. So being able to get on the air and champion certain causes, talk about certain things I feel that is something that drew me to the industry. But I always was inquisitive. So if inquiring minds want to know I was always interviewing people as a young girl, I recorded and taped my teachers and everything. So I’ve always been inquisitive. I love that aspect of the business as well.
Who has been your favorite interviewee so far?
I don’t know if I necessarily have a favorite, there’s certain people who stick out in your mind. I would say that I’ve had fun interviewing Oprah, that was amazing but that was like a very quick interview. I love to be able to say hey I talked to Oprah, she probably wouldn’t even remember but I do. But as far as artists are concerned, it’s really cool when you have someone in the studio you can vibe with that you’re cool with like Ne-Yo. Ne-Yo gives a great interview he comes in he talks he chats, we even did a little skit on the air impromptu. When you have artist like that who are well rounded that gives you a great interview and you’re like oh yeah that’s why I love this job. You have some duds and you have some good stuff, but I have to say Ne-Yo is one of my favorites.
Now you have your own non profit organization for teens called Flava Unit can you tell us how you came up with the concept and name?
The concept came about because I was working at a station down South, at the time I was at a hip hop station and we were trying to get people to get a vibe for what the youth movement was about so we used them kind of as an advisory board almost to get a pulse on what the younger demo was feeling what they were up to and my friend said hey why don’t you call it the Flavor Unit and I’m like yeah not knowing further down the line that people would definitely confuse it with Flavor Unit by Queen Latifah but mine is Flava Unit F-L-A-V-A. But the whole mission is to make a positive change in today’s society through community service. So when I have it active and it’s been on hiatus for a minute now but the youth group we go out and partner with existing organizations like the Food Network here, we would do stuff with AIDS/HIV prevention and we would go out and partner with those existing organizations and the students were high school students who needed community service credit hours because most of the kids these days need community service credit hours.
So while they were doing this it was also instilling in them sense of purpose sense of self, something to be able to give back to and they got the bonus benefit of being attached to the radio station so they would get tickets to concerts and movie passes and things like that. So it was a double incentive for them but it was very enriching for the students as well as myself.
Can you tell us more about how you got your start in radio, where did you intern at?
Yes I started out down in Jacksonville, Florida and I interviewed at a now defunct radio station called WXQL 105.7 . But anyway I interviewed and interned there and they allowed me to get my feet wet in this whole thing. Actually it was a small mom and pop operation. This was before a lot of the big conglomerates took over everything. It was a husband and wife owned radio station and they allowed me to come in and play R&B, but I did the all jazz weekend, so I ran the boards, I did the stuff on air, it was just an amazing time and I’ll never forget that experience. I’m still in touch with them to this day, like thank you, thank you, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be able to get my foot in the door because if it had not been for them at that right time I might not have had that opportunity come back around. So it was a wonderful thing, I advise everyone to intern, because you have to get your hands on. You learn certain things when you’re in school but it’s that hands on experience that will propel you towards the next level then you meet those people you meet someone in passing that may be your mentor that may be able to help you throughout your career because that’s what happened to me.
How has your experience with The Heat on Sirius XM Radio been different for you than your experience at WBLS?
Sirius XM I’ve been on The Heat for years. Before it was The Heat I was on their Heart and Soul channel and then when they merged with XM we all got together and some other station. Well the difference is that my show on Sirius XM is mostly prerecorded so I do that show in the morning. Like I’ll get up at 3 a.m. in the morning and go over to Sirius XM in midtown and record my show so that’s all done right before the show starts, my show starts at 6 a.m. So I get in there and do all that. BLS I am live in the studio daily, and with BLS you get to touch and feel the audience with Sirius XM your audience is all over. But social media and the internet has made it so that you can get a feel of who is listening to you versus being in person with BLS and going out and reaching out and touching and shaking hands. With Sirius XM I hit people on social media and they hit me and that’s how we connect.
What has been the most fun about working with Earthquake?
Quake is crazy. The most fun is that it’s spontaneity. We don’t know what’s gonna happen. We have a outline but Quake can take things in a whole other vain and it’s just pure craziness on the air. But it works because our ratings are doing quite well and it’s lots of fun, there’s plenty of laughter. I was telling my husband yesterday I was laughing so hard my head started hurting because they were in there acting crazy and I just couldn’t stop laughing. It’s an impromptu thing that goes on everyday. We have a set plan that this is what we’re gonna say, we’re gonna talk about this but because Earthquake is a comedian and he’s quick with his wit he can go ahead and come up with any crazy thing and take us in a different direction and I think that’s what keeps the momentum going during the show.
Is there anything you have coming up in the year that you would like to tell us about?
Absolutely I am also an author and motivational speaker and if you need me to come speak at your college I can do that as well. But I have a book called “Live Your Life Transformed and Re-Purposed” I am currently working on the workbook for that so we’ve talked about different principles in the book but now we’re gonna expand on it and really put some action behind it and that’s gonna be coming up at the top of 2016. Also look at for LivingDéjàvu.com soon to be up and running. But coming up in 2016 many more things I’ll be out speaking and doing more community service and pushing more of my Hustle Her initiative which is focus driven and divinely re-purposed women sharing their stories.