The Rumba Room on Main St. Downtown lit up with fun farewells for Devin Steel last Thursday night (July 30.) Known as the “President of Afternoon Radio,” Steel is an on-air radio personality and program director for WHRK K97 ““ consistently the #1 area station in Hip-Hop and R&B station. Devin Steel with promoters Montel Nevels and Gary Maben of Elite Entertainment, which brings Recession Thursday to the Rumba Room along with K97. (Photos by Warren Roseborough.)
Steel ““ a fixture all over town at the hottest parties ““ announced on the social networking site Facebook that he is stepping back from his front-and -center position on the nightclub scene. On his web page, Steel wrote a heartfelt letter to friends and fans. He noted his passion for music and the city of Memphis, and the importance of concentrating on his family ““ his wife, Keysia, and their daughters.
“This is my 20th year doing clubs, events, parties and public functions,” said Steel. “I made a promise to my myself, my wife, and my children that if I wasn’t where I wanted to be at 35, I would give it all up. Fortunately for me, I can proudly say that I am there.” Here’s the deal: “For right now, I am just backing away unless it is a special event,” said Steel. “People keep asking me am I retiring. The answer is “˜no.’ I am taking a step back to catch my breath and to open the door for some other opportunities.” A native Memphian, Steel has been program director at HOT 107, as well as K97.
“I am at the radio station everyday until 8 p.m. and that is really demand ing. One of the main reasons I am backing back from the consistent club stuff is to spend more time with my family,” he said. “Me and my wife enjoy traveling, but it is hard to go to, let’s say Miami, when you have to be back at the night club Saturday.”
His success notwithstand ing, Steele said his passion for music and radio still drives him to want to improve his skills. “As a radio host, people may not realize there are so many sides to me. So there comes a time when you have to step back to allow other doors to open up,” he said. “One of the things I want to do is go back to school to take some more technology courses. It is very important to continue my education because I do a lot of different things. Even when I do have free time at home I don’t have a lot of energy due to the amount of work.”
“I am not going anywhere. Nobody will miss me,” he said. “Interestingly enough, the statistics say that one percent of the people that listen to radio go to the nightclub”¦ I am still going to be on the radio everyday. I am still going to mix everyday at 5 o’clock.” The ride home at 5 o’clock with Steel includes the famous, yet ridiculously excellent mix of the latest chart topping hits in urban music. Loyal local listeners heading home call in with shout-outs and updates. Many of them are hilarious. “You can’t replace good, local radio. Every day, people call in to radio with great stories. That’s what its all about,” Steele said. “I have been on the radio for 12 years now, yet when people meet me face to face they still say, “˜I didn’t know you were a white guy.’ That’s a great thing about radio; you never really see who is entertaining you. That alone makes it even better because then it’s all based on content, which is a very special thing.” Steel said his favorite thing about his job is being around people that have a common passion for music and the way that technology is changing.
“It is a dream for me. I grew up listening to Stan Bell, Bobby O’Jay, and Jackson Brown. For me to work with these people and to be able to have relationships with them is surely an honor I’ll never forget.”