Déjà Vu: Power Moves

Maybe video killed the radio star and satellite radio killed the radio listener, but neither affected the stock value of radio personalities. Scanning radio stations in every city across the country, there are a number of local celebrities waiting to make someone’s day on the air. Listeners in the New York tri-state area know that following their hectic morning rush, they can tune into Power105.1’s Déjà Vu for some mid-morning enjoyment.

We recently spoke with Deja about the trials and tribulations in the industry, and she shared her thoughts with us on the tragic shooting of fellow Power 105.1 radio personality Carl Blaze. With two charity organizations well under way, Déjà Vu proves that the duties of a radio personality can continue once the microphones are turned off. And when that’s not enough, she rattles a Pamprin bottle.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: How are you and the rest of the staff at Power 105 coping with Carl Blaze being shot? Is there anything you’d like to personally share regarding the incident?

Déjà Vu: In light of the shooting, the Power staff as well the community send prayers and well wishes to Carl and his family. It hit hard for me personally, because I was on the air when I heard the news. When I delivered the info to my audience, I had a semi-breakdown on the mic. The frailty of life was heightened in my mind. It was as if someone had punched me in the stomach. Life is too short for senseless violence.

AHHA: Has this shooting raised any red flags with the rest of the staff on personal safety?

Déjà Vu: The staff has been affected by this tragedy. We have to be extra careful with our surroundings and the places we visit. Hatred and drama loves to raise its ugly head just when you least expect it. It shouldn’t be that serious for a radio and mixshow DJ, but it is. For some reason, people seem to think we are like major celebs when that generally is not the case. But maybe we should have bodyguards too, just in case! Welcome to the new world of the music grind.

AHHA: Coming up, you began as an intern. Can you discuss the importance of having an internship?

Déjà Vu: Well first I need to stress the importance of starting out as an intern, as an intern, not as an intern trying to be a superstar. [laughs] So many people get it twisted right now, straight up they get it twisted like, “Oh I’m at the station so now I’m supposed to be a star” or whatever. But interning gave me that entry into that business that I probably wouldn’t have had until I got out of school. So I interned for a year and a half…for free. Eventually I was doing radio spots…for free. I did it because I loved the business, so if they’re gonna get into this industry they have to have a passion for it – whether it’s radio, record, even trying to come up as an artist – you’ve gotta have that definite passion and not try to be an overnight superstar. Although ultimately, I want to be that superstar – but I’ve been grinding and it gave me a greater appreciation for my business.

AHHA: What was it like being on air in Birmingham, Alabama?

Déjà Vu: Girl…[laughs] well first off, I come from a smaller city anyway – Jacksonville, Florida is not Miami, you know? It’s totally different from Miami, but it’s a lot different from Birmingham too. It’s a whole lot of Black folks doing a whole lot of…just stuff. It was different, because in Jacksonville we knew which areas to go to because they have the Confederate flag raised and stuff like that. Birmingham wasn’t as bad, but then you’d see some things and you could get a feel of it. Some of the racial tension still was on back in that day.

Actually the radio fans were just awesome because we were like superstars to them because it was a smaller city – they didn’t have a basketball team or a football team or anything like that. So the radio personalities were the stars. I could be shopping at the mall signing autographs like I’m a for real celebrity.

AHHA: How did you make that change coming to New York?

Déjà Vu: Coming into New York, I had been with Clear Channel for several years and they asked me if I wanted to come up here when they started up the station Power 105.1. I had just gotten in as being Program Director in Richmond, and my boss called me and was like, “Yo would you like to make the move to New York?” I was like, “Ok. Richmond…New York…Richmond…New York.” Although I wouldn’t be like the boss or whatever in New York, I’ve still got this to put on my resume as this opportunity to be a little country girl coming up to the big city. So, it was awesome to be able to have that experience.

AHHA: Whenever you’re on the air you have so much energy. Being women, we have our days. How do you get on air every day and get that personality going without being like “not today”?

Déjà Vu: I mean I have my “not today” days. I’ll tell my listeners, because after a while, the listeners become your friends. It’s like, “Ok y’all, you have to help me out today ‘cause I’m not feelin’ it.” I’ll say it on the air, “Y’all gotta give me some energy today, I feel crappy or it’s about that time [of the month].” I have this one segment on one of my shows where I shake the Pamprin bottle into the microphone and say, “I’m shakin’ the Pamprin bottle right now so you know.”

I think also radio is theater of the mind so we are actors and actresses. I tell my interns that you gotta fake it sometimes because you’re there to entertain. Yeah it’s cool to be real, but a lot of times they are trying to use the radio as escapism too. They might be having a bad day, and if you’re bringing them down, are you serving your purpose? So I have some bad times, but I try to keep it upbeat for the most part. I’ve had really bad times you know if you’re going through a breakup or whatever, and you say your little spiel, “Power 105.1!” and then get off the microphone and start crying. Yeah, I’ve had that…few and far between.

AHHA: A lot of crazy things have happened over this past year at Power 105.1, especially with Star. What was it like being a part of the station when that madness was going on?

Déjà Vu: Well I can’t really speak on him, but we actually didn’t get affected by it as much as we could have been because that entity [Star and Bucwild] – they had their own studio, their own room, and everything like that – so we didn’t really have anything to do with that. They did bring a lot of new listenership to the station that wasn’t previously there, that’s for sure.

AHHA: Have you witnessed anything crazy at the station?

Déjà Vu: Not anything to the full extreme, but there are regular artists that come through all the time. Off air, you’ll find that they’re just regular folks who like to talk trash just like everybody else and have fun just like everybody else. Real cool. It’s a cool vibe at the station; it’s not like going to corporate America at all. We go in there and have fun everyday. Yeah we get mad at each other or whatever as far as personalities are concerned, but we still keep it moving. And with artists it’s the same thing. They might have a little beef with someone or whatever, but when they come up here, they’re usually cool…or high. [laughs]

AHHA: Who is your favorite artist to be around?

Déjà Vu: Probably Remy [Ma] is the realest. She’s bananas. She was on our float for the African American Day Parade and she was just so real. She was telling me high school stories from back in the day, just stuff like that. She’s real cool to be around.

AHHA: Coming up as a woman in radio, did you experience anything negative?

Déjà Vu: Not anything negative, but you just have to be on your guard at all times. You have to know that. Well for me, I’m a double minority: I’m Black and I’m a woman. People are going to look at you differently like, “Oh who does she think she is?” I just always keep my head focused on whatever it is that I’m working on. People are going to look down on you.

When I first got in the industry, there weren’t hardly any female Program Directors at the stations – no females making the major decisions. It’s changed vastly since then, and I have been able to see and experience that and it’s an awesome thing. It gives you something else to strive for because a lot of the money is not just made on air; it’s made behind the scenes as well. To be one of those power players, to be one of the people to pull the strings and take over the budget at a station like Power 105.1 or something like that is an awesome aspiration.

AHHA: Besides Power105.1, you’re also involved in two other organizations: The Flava Unit and SistaGirlz.

Déjà Vu: Flava Unit is my youth group, and we do community service throughout the five boroughs and every station that I’ve been at. I have a lot of success stories from different kids and stuff who have achieved different things. One girl went and started up her own volunteer chapter when she went off to college. I have students who are studying for their PhD. One of my kids was on BET; I don’t think he’s on there anymore. He got into radio being around the station and being a part of that. He actually went to work for our competition when I was in St. Louis, so that was interesting. [laughs]

SistaGirlz is my new initiative…not necessarily new, but it’s being finely tuned. It’s going to be similar to the Flava Unit, but I’m doing more motivational things for women. A lot of young women – especially the ones that we target at the radio station – they lack direction as far as being a lady. Yeah we can kick and this and that, but are we being real ladies and handling our business as far as getting our money in order or if we have kids, getting our kids in order. Following up with your goals as well. It’s about women. Blazing the trail towards empowerment of women.

AHHA: In your opinion, have women in the industry evolved or devolved?

Déjà Vu: I think we have evolved. I think though a lot of stuff that may have gotten our foresisters in the industry [angry] we let brush off our shoulders. I think it’s because of our generation. So I can listen to [AMG’s] “B*tch Better Have My Money” and whatever. I can sing right along with it, but I still know how to handle myself in a different way. I don’t think it’s desensitized me to the situation, I think it made me more cognizant of it. I can separate what’s entertainment versus how people might feel like a song might be degrading. I know there are a lot of women out there who actually do get offended by some of the lyrics and stuff.

I guess being in the industry, I am a part of that but that’s why I have the SistaGirlz stuff I guess to counter[act] the negative things. ‘Cause yeah, I’ll be in the club and I’ll be dancing to that kind of music, but at the same time you wanna prove to the women and let the women know that we are go-getters, we are achievers, we’re not your ho or your b*tch or whatever.

AHHA: Who are some of the artists you’re feeling right now?

Déjà Vu: I’m still loving the Beyonce CD – not just because she has a song called “Déjà vu” [laughs]. I know a lot of people were hatin’ on it. I like that CD, it’s been in constant rotation. All Dirty South “get crunk” music. I’ve been ridin’ with Lil’ Jon before he blew up. I love E-40, and of course my conscious Hip-Hop: Common, Talib, Mos Def.

AHHA: How does it feel to have your neck of the woods [the South] finally getting some big love?

Déjà Vu: It’s amazing to me! Because I’ve been ridin’ with Lil’ Jon and he was doing that “get crunk” stuff ten years ago. A lot of people don’t know that. They think it just came out a couple years ago. So it’s amazing to me, and they remember me from when I used to be in my smaller markets when they come up [to Power105.1]. It’s cool to see that the South is blowin’ up. Definitely.

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