If you’ve tuned into the radio in the ATL recently,
there’s a 99.99 percent chance you’ve heard the voice of Frank Ski, the
host of Hotlanta’s # 1 morning show (Frank and Wanda in the morning /
V-103). Ski, with over 20 years of deejaying and radio experience under
his belt, has withstood the test of time and is a force to be reckoned
with. From being shouted out by Jermaine Dupri on the city’s anthem
“Welcome To Atlanta,” to rubbing elbows with the likes of Outkast, T.I. ,
Young Jeezy, Ludacris, to “politicing” with Barack Obama or Atlanta’s mayor Shirley
Franklin, Frank is loved and respected by a diverse audience and is a
DJ many aspire to emulate.
Despite Frank’s hectic schedule and demanding
career, he still embraces his deejaying foundation and rocks the
turntables at parties throughout Atlanta. He’s one of the few on-air
personalities capable of hosting a # 1 morning show by day, and
“rockin’ da party” by night.
Frank, a Miami native, got his start in radio working at the station
at the University of District of Columbia where he launched one of the first
hip-hop shows ever. His ratings were “through the roof”, and his
phrase, “Oh Baby, Oh Baby,” became a staple throughout the D.C. /
Baltimore market. Eventually, he was offered jobs in Baltimore at WEBB,
V 103 and 92Q. His overwhelming popularity, attributed to his magnetic
personality, high ratings, and his hit record “Doo Doo Brown”
with the group Two Hyped Brothers and A Dog, enabled him to dominate Baltimore.
These days, the nine-year ATLien, with future plans of opening a Wine
& Martini Lounge, a venue for live performances, and a restaurant, is
on a mission to secure his legacy in Atlanta. AllHipHop.com caught
up with Frank to discuss his past, rockin’ the parties at JD’s new
club, his kids foundation, and his take on today’s DJs….
AllHipHop.com: Frank, what’s goin’ on man
Frank Ski: I’ve been good, stayin’ busy
AllHipHop.com: Yeah I know you are man, what’s been crackin’ in Hotlanta ?
Frank Ski: It’s crazy boy, it’s somethin’ everyday, you know how it is down here.
AllHipHop.com: It’s been a while since we hung out at Club Visions that spot’s gone now right ?
Frank Ski: Yeah Visions is gone and they’re trying to open another
Visions but the crew that had Visions went out and bought another club
called The Compound which was actually their competition. I’m actually
doing Jermaine Dupri’s club on Fridays [Studio 72] and then….
AllHipHop.com: Right I was gonna ask you about that, it’s Krush Groove night right ?
Frank Ski: Yeah what’s going on in the country now is that the older
audience doesn’t go to clubs like they used to, they’re chillin’ more
going to restaurants and bars and lounges and the younger generation is
still clubbin’ but their idea of clubbin’ ain’t like we used to club
you know. Their thing is kinda like more standing around mackin’ and
chillin’ than actually jammin’ and packing the dance floor. Basically
what JD did was brought me in because I’m still able pull that older
crowd that likes to dance and party.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah actually that was one of the things I wanted to ask you
about because you’re like one of the few morning show hosts that can
hold down the duty of doing a morning show by day, and then maneuver at
night on the 1s and 2s. What’s your formula behind that and more
importantly, when do you sleep man ?
Frank Ski: Right isn’t that somethin’ dogg? It’s like crazy because
when I was younger in Baltimore, it was no problem burning the candle
at both ends you know what I’m sayin’, but now it’s harder because I’m
older plus I have more responsibilities, so instead of me being able to
just go to a club and leave at two in the morning, get three hours of
sleep, get a nap in, then get up and go to work, get off at 10 [AM] and
go home and crash again, now I got responsibilities all day. You know,
got kids and all kinds of other stuff so I don’t get that crash time
like I used to get.
AllHipHop.com: That’s crazy, I remember back in the day when I was a teenager
listening to your show on UDC’s college radio station [Washington, DC]
and then later you went to WEBB, V-103 and 92 Q in Baltimore. Tell us a
little about that era and your entrance into the radio game.
Frank Ski: I had always wanted to do something with Hip-Hop because,
the thing that got me to fall in love with hip hop is you know when you
hear Puffy and people from Manhattan say “Harlem World?” Harlem World
used to be a club and one of the owners was my uncle. As a kid I used
to be up in Harlem World and being there kinda introduced me to the
originators of Hip-Hop and rap and basically I would be up in there you
know trying to be a little young MC myself. So I kinda got into it
in that vein. I was growing up in high school in Miami but spending all
my long weekends, summers and holidays in New York, so I was like hip
hop crazy in New York and I was bringing that back to Miami. I got
introduced to that hip hop game real young and started doing everything
from… I had a break dance crew that won the national break dance
What happened was actually at one of the break dance competitions
there was a guy who found out about it that ran UDC’s college radio
station. I was going to UDC so he asked me if I would do a radio show
surrounding break dancing and I did this show called “breakers delight”
on WDCU which was UDC’s radio station it was a FM station, and
everybody used to listen to it from DC and you could even get it in
Baltimore. That’s how I became popular in DC and in Baltimore by doing
that Saturday afternoon radio show. After a while I got offered a job
in Baltimore on another station [WEBB] but I actually worked both
stations, UDC’s station on Saturday in DC but then I did Friday,
Saturday and Sunday in Baltimore at WEBB which was an all Hip-Hop AM
station. WEBB got so popular because it was the only place to get Hip-Hop in Baltimore that it started competing against station V-103 and
then I got brought over to V-103 and that’s how I basically got into
radio.AllHipHop.com: Yeah, so it was like a natural progression or transition.
Frank Ski: It was, it really was and then working in radio
developing my voice helped me a lot in deejaying. But what really
propelled me to be a mixer was when I went into the studio one time in
D.C. and at that time I didn’t know anything about the studio, I didn’t
know anything about beat count I didn’t understand bars and measures.
You know now rappers be like “yo give me 16 bars” and can count 16
bars. Well as a DJ I didn’t know that every single record is made in 4,
8 or 16 bars, every 8 bars or every 16 bars something changes in the
record. I didn’t really know that, but when I learned that s**t.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, that was it huh ?
Frank Ski: That was it, because then I was able to mix records
better, I understood how records went together even if records didn’t
go together, I knew when to make a record drop. I hear DJs today and
they’re just throwing s**t in and I’m like they have no clue of when
to drop a record and when not to drop a record you know what I’m
sayin’? That was one of the things that really helped me with deejaying
and it got to the point where that’s my love, that’s what I love to do,
I just happened to get paid for it but really, for real – I deejayed
for years for free.
AllHipHop.com: I actually wrote an editorial last month about a new breed of
“DJs” that call themselves “DJ so and so” and have never even been on a
set of turntables because of iPods, MP3 players and all that stuff. What’s your take on today’s DJs and what advice do you have for aspiring DJs ?
Frank Ski: I go back to when I first fell in love with radio in New
York and a guy named Frankie Crocker. He was one of these classic radio
cats like Donnie Simpson and s**t. Or how a young person would look at
me now, somebody that’s been in the game so long. His tag was “The
Chief Rocker Frankie Crocker” and MCs who came out that used the tag
like in the VH-1 Hip-Hop Honors when they honored Busy Bee it was like
“Chief Rocker Busy Bee” because they used to really rock parties, you
understand what I’m sayin’? They would really rock parties. I think
nowadays the way I judge a DJ is like, who can move the crowd ? Who’s a real party rocker ? Who walks in and changes the dynamic of
the crowd as soon as they walk in and get on the turntables and get on
the mic? I look at it now like, less than just the skill of being
able to mix and scratch or whatever, it’s like who can really entertain
the crowd ?
AllHipHop.com: Yeah who has that swagger, who can really….
Frank Ski: Who has that swagger !! That’s it, you know what I’m
sayin’? A lot of cats don’t have that swagger. They can scream, and they
can drop a couple of hot records, but you know what, I can give my
6 year old son the top 10 Hip-Hop records and tell him when to drop ’em
and he can do the same s**t. That don’t mean nothin’. But can you go in
and rock a party and not play the top 10 songs ?
AllHipHop.com: You’re speaking from experience there. You’ve been holdin ‘ it
down consistently for a while now, what would you credit as being the
key to your longevity ?
Frank Ski: Originality, originality because if you look at any of
the popular DJs they’ve all got something that made them original and
different. It’s funny because at first, people would say the top DJ in
the country was Kid Capri. But after a while, everybody came out was
sounding like Kid Capri, like everybody that came out of New York wanted
to sound like him. They had the same slang, the same words, the same
everything and what had to happen at that point was Kid had to keep
reinventing himself to stay fresh and stay on top. That’s the
problem nowadays, a lot of kids are copying somebody else instead of
finding out who they are. AllHipHop.com: You’re deeply involved in the community there in Atlanta and you
started a foundation for the kids. What are some of the projects, businesses and events that you’ve got going on.
Frank Ski: When I was in Baltimore and D.C., I always donated money
to parks and rec programs for kids. This is the sad part with the black
community, a lot of the white community doesn’t have this problem. The
mistake a lot of our black athletes make is by being lazy when it comes
to giving money to charities. Their agents will tell them “Ok so and
so, you’ve got this big NFL contract, now you gotta give 10 percent of
the money back” Most of the athletes give 10 percent of their money
back to the team’s foundation that they play for, because it’s easy,
the team is paying them the money, they just sign off 10 percent of
their check, and it automatically comes out and they give 10 percent of
the money back to the team they play for. Where do they put that money
? Are they going in the hood to put that money in ? They’re not, so
what’s happening is we got all of these blacks athletes and their money
is not getting back to the parks [in the neighborhoods] that they
So I started my foundation thinking I could at least encourage the
athletes to at least give the money to me and then I would put the
money back into the parks. But the funny thing about it is, I get less
from the black athletes than I do from the white athletes. Black people
just don’t give back dog. We don’t give back to our colleges, we don’t
give back to our schools, we don’t give back to our parks, we don’t
give back to our neighborhoods.
So I started the foundation by doing that but now, I gotta go to
corporate clients in order to get those sponsorships now, it is what it
is. What I do with my foundation is we create experience opportunities
for kids. We throw the biggest youth Super Bowl in America, 20,000
people come out. We get the top four teams and we invite them to play
in the Bowl, and they have a playoff weekend and then the two winners
play in the Bowl and we give out 20,000 dollars to the park. The park that
won last year is in a very poor neighborhood. Half of the kids in the
neighborhood can’t afford to play football they can’t afford 250 dollars to
go and get uniforms and registration and do everything they need to do.
Half of the kids are being raised by their Grandmamas and are on fixed
income they ain’t got 250 dollars, so how do these kids get to play ? What
this park did when they won was took 10,000 dollars and put it into
scholarships, and they said any kid in that neighborhood that wanted to
play football, the park would pay for them to play.
AllHipHop.com : Kevin Liles is a long-time friend of yours,
former president of Def Jam, and now a big wig over at Warner Music
Group. The city of Baltimore honored him by naming a street after him. How was that experience ?
Frank Ski: You know it’s funny because when I was on the stage with
Kevin when they named the street after him, I almost wanted to cry and
the reason why is because as we were coming up in Baltimore, it was me
and Kevin and like 10 other dudes. We all were changing the face of
Baltimore when we were young. It’s amazing that only a couple of us
made it out and were able to use what we learned to take it to the next
level. So the fact that Kevin did it, there should of been 10 others
kids coming behind him doing it. There should have been five other
Frank Ski’s there should have been 5 other Kevin Liles. What was the
reason only a couple of us got out of there were be able to do that ? I
don’t know. We created Baltimore club music, created the club scene as
it’s known today, we did so much in Baltimore when we were young. So when I look at Kevin’s success it makes me cry because I know he
deserves it more than anybody else that I know, when he gives money
back to his neighborhood I know he really means it. For him to have a
street named after him that he grew up on that’s really a block off one
of the main hardest, craziest blocks in Baltimore, I know where he came
from and that’s like so cool. I just wish other ones of us that did it
back in the day would’ve done the same thing, and the unfortunate thing
is Baltimore ain’t changed dog, it’s the same Baltimore I left nine
K: Ok well we’re gonna wrap it up but before we do, one last
question and it’s gonna be a funny one too, can we get another “Doo Doo
Brown” record man ?
Frank Ski: Can I tell you what’s funny about that. Everyone has
approached me. It’s funny, you know who just approached me, Luke,
College Park, DJ Smurf, Mr. Collipark, I’ve talked to Ludacris’ people
I’ve talked to so many people. So people are coming to me now and
asking me, will I go back in the studio and do it and the answer is
yes, but I’m gonna open this first project by January / February and
then after that, I’ll go in the studio and help some people out.
Video of Frank Ski joining the city of Baltimore to honor Kevin Liles by naming his childhood street Kevin Liles Dr.