I became an on-air personality in the year 2000, when digital programming was reaching its climax. My position was co-host of the WIBB 97.9FM local morning show with Ronald Dirty Jackson. Some of my duties as co-host consisted of researching show topics, coming up with interactive games for the audience, inviting guests, talking jive and staying involved with the community.
One day I was assigned to sort through the public service announcements and record about three of them to produce a 60-second PSA for the stations. After I grasped the fundamentals of audio production, I became a better on-air personality. And, throughout the years, reading all those PSAs opened my eyes to many organizations and their missions.
In the early 1990s, I can remember hearing about the Jack the Rapper Convention. I was still a teenager and had very little knowledge of what this event was all about. However, I do remember hearing Donnie Simspon and Madelyne Woods of Video Soul on Black Entertainment Television mention that they would attend the convention. Now that I am older, I realize that Joseph Deighton Gibson Jr., also known as Jack the Rapper, was a pioneer in the radio industry.
Today, with technology being so accessible, many of us can only imagine how hard a radio disc jockey had to work, back in the 1950s. When he was an on-air jockey, people would come to the radio station and perform live with their bands.
As a radio personality, Jack the Rapper also was very involved in community events. His efforts united people in the world of entertainment. He made a path for me and many others. Jack the Rapper started his own radio station, WERD in Atlanta, in 1949. And, he created the National Association of Radio Announcers for Black DJs, which I have attended twice.
Shirley Ellis, station manager at Fort Valley State Universitys mass communications department, was my sponsor both times. She taught me how to run the board and Dirty taught me how to push the envelope during those five-minute on-air breaks.
Back in the late 1990s, when I lived in Atlanta, I would listen to the Mike Roberts and Carol Blackmon morning show on WVEE V103.3FM. As I was getting dressed one morning, I can remember stopping in my tracks when Roberts mentioned on-air that he would be starting Roberts Communications in Macon. Most of all, I never imagined I would work with him. Because of a good word from Thomas Bacote, Roberts gave me my own weekend show. Although I learned a lot at WIBB, I took this opportunity to step out on my own. This was the beginning of another chapter in my life.
Ronald Dirty Jackson, Shirley Ellis and Mike Roberts are some of the people who inspired me to recognize the power of broadcasting and the voice.
Yolanda Y-O Latimore is founder of Poetic Peace Arts, Macons representative on the Knight National Arts Advisory Board and director of Like Water Publicity, a media and booking agency. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.