There are some radio people who make a great deal of money and LOVE the company they work for in Urban radio. They are able to pursue outside opportunities, work reasonable hours, may be at a unionized station and they get paid well for appearances. They are heavily promoted by the station and given carte blanche to use social media to promote their platforms in and out of radio. This is how it should be across the board but unfortunately these people on the urban side are rare.
This weekend, urban radio industry vet Kris Kelley was found dead in her apartment. Is this unfortunate? Yes. Is it shocking? No, Is she the first one? No, as a matter of fact three black women in total who worked at WGCI have been found the exact same way. Val Landon in 2004, Karen Jones (Shannon Dell) in 1998 and now Kris Kelley. There have been many more black jocks over the years who have been found the same way. Alone, in an apartment, dead. I am confident that the thought has run through just about every urban radio pro and music industry exec’s mind who is about to read this story and that is… it could happen to any of us. After so many years of learning how to disconnect because of frequent moves, if we are not parents or in a current or longstanding relationship those years of struggle can take a toll on our relationships and on us.
I am actually from radio but I have never had the love and attachment that so many urban radio people have for it. I wanted to be a singer and used it as a way of becoming one. I have worked for some of the most greedy black owners and a few of the most corrupt black programmers you can ever imagine but I learned more than I could have ever imagined about the industry and life as a whole. Those mom and pop stations were inevitable instant vestibules that were worthless unless you got everything you could get out of it before you were fired for something “stupid” like um I don’t know… poor ratings? That was one of the first lessons I learned, when you walk into a situation not willing to “do the work” you will be fired, in a record amount of time, for the same reason.