“Being focused on success wasn’t a choice it was a need. It was literally a need to succeed.” -TT Torrez
Within minutes of our call with Music Executive, TT Torrez, we felt the vibe and an understanding of the grit and determination that this powerful woman embodied. The multi-media personality and music executive at HOT97 humbly made it clear that she’s worked very hard to be where she is. From a rocky start, being on her own since she was 14-years-old, she dealt with the harsh realities of many inner city kids. It wasn’t until she got to college that she discovered her love and passion for radio. Torrez made it her mission to make her way into the radio world and locked in her first professional role at WCHH Hot 92.7 in Charlotte, NC as a part-time radio host. She then moved further south to WSSP Power 94.3 in Charleston, SC to be a midday personality and producer for the esteemed Russ Parr Morning Show.
After her time at The Russ Parr Morning Show, she spent four years traveling for Music Choice, writing and producing for television shows, and hosting on-camera interviews with celebrities. She even found time to work weekends as an on-air talent for the legendary WUSL Power 99 in Philadelphia.
Torrez worked full-time as the afternoon personality and Music Director for WCDX iPower 92.1 in Richmond, VA prior to moving to New York’s Hot 97. Given her humble beginnings, Torrez ensures that she makes time to give back to the community through philanthropic efforts including her “Pink Birthday Party” charity event benefiting breast cancer research and the “I Will Wait Until I Graduate” campaign which was founded by Torrez to encourage young girls to graduate before parenting a child. Torrez recently received the award for “Best Community Service” from the VA Association of Broadcasters for her “Prom-A-Thon” campaign that provided over 500 girls with prom dresses, make-up and hair to attend their high school prom.
Despite being an exclusive media source in her own right, Torrez has also been featured in various media outlets including The Source, Star, and VIBE magazine, television’s Nancy Grace, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, and blog sites like necolebitchie.com, bossip.com, and globalgrind.com. She also continues to cover the red carpet at the MTV VMA’s, the BET Awards, the BET Hip-Hop Awards and The Grammys.
Ms. Torrez says the radio world can be a bit of a “boys’ club,” but through hard work, knowing what she wanted and successful networking, she’s managed to land her dream job.
With the hustle and bustle of curating what hits the HOT 97 air-waves, AllHipHop got a few moments of her time to discuss her world as a female music executive:
AllHipHop: Please explain what your job entails:
TT Torrez: I am responsible for developing, coordinating, and supervising all music programs, production and overall day-to-day operations of the station. I also plan and produce special musical concerts and/or workshops and coordinate fundraising efforts. The main job of a radio station’s Music Director is to find the right music for the station, but it’s more complicated than just picking quality music. It’s making sure out of the music that’s available to us, we’re finding the right music our audience wants to hear, which generates the best ratings, which in turn helps our sales department sell airtime.”
AllHipHop: What’s the most enjoyable part of the job and your duties?
TT Torrez: Interacting with the community
AllHipHop: What is the hardest part: *
TT Torrez: Balancing work life and personal life
AllHipHop: Do you remember and can describe a time of adversity in your career?
TT Torrez: I remember the first time I got fired from my first radio gig. It was in Charleston, South Carolina, and I was producing The Russ Parr Morning Show. The company said they were selling their station and as of tomorrow, you no longer have a job. I remember crying wondering what I was going to do. I wasn’t making that much money, but one thing I’ve always been good at was networking. Russ Parr and I became really good friends –he became a mentor to me, and I told him ‘Hey I’m out of a gig,’ and he said there weren’t any positions available, he created an opportunity for me to connect with the program director and see what happens. So I packed up my Honda Accord, put my furniture in storage and drove to D.C. This taught me that you really have to humble yourself and be open to doing other things. I went from literally having nowhere to stay to gaining a great gig in Connecticut. You have to go through the trials and tribulations to get to where you want to be.
AllHipHop: How do you express the pride of being a woman of color in the industry, being humble but owning your position and how does that transpire within the music and entertainment industry?
TT Torrez: I mean, it’s very easy to get lost in this business. You have to be strong-minded and have a strong personality. Black women already face so many stereotypes when it comes to reality television and from what others perceive us to be. I think for me it was all about me being authentic to who I am…and I had a lot of people on the way that tried to change that or turn me into things that I’m not. I always had to stay strong to who I am while still maturing. You can’t get caught up in what this industry can do to you. You always have to strategize and not always wear your heart on your sleeves. You are smart and you can be on the same level as men.
AllHipHop: How do you balance work and personal life?
TT Torrez: I definitely I have the situation, but I have a 6-year-old son and I raise my nephew, and you really have to find what you want and how to balance that. Many women give up the family and other personal life aspects.
You know, I was literally having this conversation with a friend about how men executives can have it all. They have their wives pack their bags, schedule their lives, make them dinner, take care of the children, but then you see women in those same positions, and they typically aren’t married, they don’t have kids, and if a man can have those things, you can too! So why cheat yourself from it. I mean it’s not easy, but why cheat yourself from having it all. I also have to understand to just live in the moment when I’m with my family taking time away from my phone and social media and really connect and live in the moment. When I’m happy at home, I’m a better person at work. It really makes you complete. You also have to have someone that mutually respect what you do and support you as well.
AllHipHop: Who inspires you?
TT Torrez: My mom. She continues to inspire me. And we didn’t always have the greatest relationship, but now that I am grown and have a child of my own, I have a better perspective on why she made the decisions she did. Also, my mentor Lamonda Williams and my lawyer Wendy Credle. Honestly many women continue to inspire me whether I speak to them regularly or not. There are so many in this music industry that you may not see but continue to pave the way.
AllHipHop: Please provide what it means to you to be a powerful woman and a boss in the urban music and hip-hop industry.
TT Torrez: Respect for yourself and others. As well as understanding your self-worth!
AllHipHop: Final Words, inspirational quotes of some sort?
TT Torrez: No, I don’t have a specific quote but one of the things I live by is to always remain humble and show love and respect for humanity. You should treat the janitor with the same respect as someone that is sitting next to you at the table or the CEO of a company. I also believe in the power of God and what he does in my life each day. And to all the young girls, never let anybody put you in a box and let people tell you what you can and can’t do. I’m a prime example of that. I was definitely that girl that was not supposed to get out of the hood. I’ve been told ‘oh she will have X amount of kids before she graduates’ or oh she’s gonna be this or she gonna be that. I mean I never ever let those stereotypes hinder me. I always stayed a visionary and saw myself as bigger than what anyone told me I could be.
AllHipHop: Final Words?
TT Torrez: I think we get so jaded by what social media brings and what reality tv does because it appears that everybody else around us is doing so well. We get so consumed with the paths of others, but if you really focus on your path, it will happen in the timing of when it is supposed to happen. You may not get a bunch of likes on social media, but it doesn’t matter. Stay your own course and don’t allow the distractions to take you off that. Don’t rush the process…enjoy the process.