The Day R&B Died in 2013: An interview With The R&B King of Radio

People don't know that 'Adorn' song by Miguel didn't blow up until I played it. You look at the date that song took off ... That song had already been out for a while. When I played that song and had him on the show I start playing that song every day.

Michael Baisden is undeniably one of the most influential and engaging personalities in radio history. His meteoric rise to #1 redefined radio with the numbers to back it up. The show was heard in over 100 cities nationwide with over 7 million loyal listeners daily in his 10-year career.

Michael continues to entertain, enlighten and educate. recently chopped it up with the "King Of R&B" radio, Michael Baisden and we discussed his start in radio, the relaunch of his radio show, new website " and the state of R&B music. Hey Mike!

Michael Baisden: What's up Kawani, how you doing? Could you introduce yourself to our audience and tell them a bit about yourself in terms of your radio background.

Michael Baisden: I'm not good at self-promotion but I'll just say, Michael Baisden, author, radio personality, TV host, philanthropist, activist. I was born and raised in Chicago. Prior military, father of a 26 year old young woman who works for me, my daughter, Michae How did you get started in radio by the way?

Michael Baisden: How did I start out? Well first of course I was an author, that's how I started my career outside of my nine to five job driving cranes for the Chicago Transit Authority after I got out of the military. So, I was writing books when I was driving trains. I used my passengers as proofreaders and as I drove the trains. And I almost got fired for quite a few times at that point I was like whatever, you know? And as a result of writing my first book I traveled around with the Black Expo, which used to be really popular back in the day. And I would get on the radio stations to promote the seminars that I was doing at the Black Expo. So, as a result of being on the radio I of course was raising hell and making women upset with me.

Michael Baisden:They wanted to come out and see me after I talked about relationships. Seminars were huge and the radio interviews got to be very popular and they would continue to invite me back as I continued to write books. As a result of spending so much time on the radio promoting my book, I fell in love with radio. So I began doing radio in New York part-time. They asked me to do a relationship segment-

Michael Baisden: On Thursdays with Jeff Fox and Selma and talent back in New York on KISS-FM 98.7, and that grew into a ... The program director, Toya Beasley, asked if I wanted to do my own show in the afternoon 'cause at the time Wendy Williams was killing them on BLS and so I came on in 2003. So In 2003, I started doing Afternoon Drive in New York and it went from number nine or number eleven to number one in a month, and from that point on it was ... The rest is history as they say. Tell us about your return to radio recently in January.

Michael Baisden: Currently building up back to radio. I came back on radio in January so now we're rebuilding the show up again. We're back up to 45 affiliates of our original 80. So now that Michael Baisden Show is back. So, is the B-Side back as well?

Michael Baisden: Well we haven't relaunched the B-Side yet because we're too busy just playing the music[inaudible 00:03:48] is good music you just don't have time to have B-Side, you gotta put it on.

Michael Baisden: I don't like being beat to the punch. So the B-Side was something I used when we weren't playing a lot of neo-soul, but now neo-soul at least for me is mainstream. So I don't waste time asking people what they think about it, if I like it I just put it on. Right. So yeah. So Mike tell me this, is R&B dead?

Michael Baisden: Say again. Ask that question again. Is R&B dead to you? Is it dead lol?

Michael Baisden: Oh no. No, no. I mean you're talking to a man that's on the R&B station. Right.

Michael Baisden: So all of my stations are R&B. So no it's not dead. I'll tell you what the problem is with R&B. Alright man. Before you do that, I think R&B died the day myself and a friend took a visit to KYS somewhere in the DMV area and they told me that The Michael Baisden Show was no longer and also on that particular day, ESPN was gonna rent the airwaves.

Michael Baisden: They did. Right. so I coined that was the day that R&B died 'cause I thought you was the R&B man. That's the day that R&B died to me. You were the launch pad for so many during your time.

Michael Baisden: I get it. When your show left I said R&B is dead now 'because Mike was the king of R&B radio.

Michael Baisden: Well I'm not gonna argue about that king R&B thing so go ahead on and write that if you want to.

Michael Baisden: My departure was unexpected. It was certainly not something I wanted. A lot of people thought that I left radio. I did not leave radio. There was a lot of politics behind it, which I can't get into 'cause believe it or not, we're still in litigation to this day. Yeah it's pretty crazy man. One day I'm gonna write a book about it. Hell, I might make a movie about it. You took R&B with you, man!

Michael Baisden: That's interesting. Hell, I got a question for you. It's interesting that you would say it, I mean they've been playing R&B music. R&B stations still play R&B music- It changed right after you left though.

Michael Baisden: Now how did you see it changing because I stopped listening to radio so I can't tell you. I think your show provided crossover opportunities for artist like Raheem DeVaughn, Janet even, Keyshia Cole and I’m quite sure there’s more. I mean you even had people on your B-Side like Lauryn Hill at one time. I remember she was a B-Side record. I remember when you even played, I believe a Janet Jackson record. Her last record that she did with J.Cole. So...

Michael Baisden: I see what you mean. People don't know that 'Adorn' song by Miguel didn't blow up until I played it. You look at the date that song took off ... That song had already been out for a while. When I played that song and had him on the show I start playing that song every day. Wow! My point exactly. And that probably one of the last biggest crossover R&B records right there, which prove my point that you broke artists, lol.

Michael Baisden: See everything with radio is research. Research. Research.

Michael Baisden: So the program director has to be able to go back to the boss and say, "Well the reason why I played that song is because it tested well." and when it doesn't test well, it doesn't get played.

Michael Baisden: and the one thing that most people don't know is that they tested me for an audience before they brought me on in New York, and I did not test well. It's not about testing. You don't test talent. You just do it and you make people fall in love with what you do because of your passion and because of your gift.

Michael Baisden: If you're gonna test everything ... Don't push it all the way up guys we gotta put the sheets on ... You're gonna test everything then if something doesn't test well it doesn't go well. Hell, the smartest people in the world don't test well. Okay, geniuses don't test well. Autistic people don't test well because we don't live in a box. Right.

Michael Baisden: It's so much good music out there. So many talented people. And they're never gonna be heard because they don't test well. Or they don't get tested at all, how about that? Right. Wow. Wow man. I am glad that you're back, man.

Michael Baisden: Me too. I kinda compare your platform to Tom’s

Michael Baisden: Well, let's not compare me with him. I'm not in comparison with any of these guys that's on radio. I don't really have a whole lot of connection with that generation. That's old time radio to me. True.

Michael Baisden: Instead of using the term old time, it's conventional radio. And that's not to be disparaging toward Tom it's just conventional radio. True but I was speaking in terms of the events that you do. You even had a website called mingle city. Is it still in effect? Mingle City.

Michael Baisden: No, we're building a new platform. It's all about videos now. We're building Everything is video now, you know that. Young man, everything is video. How about the Michael Baisden events that you used to throw?

Michael Baisden: Well, we'll restart those next year but for me everything is about events. It's not about partying, it's about business. I'm not really much into partying these days. If I can't network or somehow have some kinda impact on kids or charity in some kind of way it's not really worth my time at this point. I really don't wanna party. If I wanna party I want some business to taking place.

Michael Baisden: So we're gonna be launching networking events but I'm not gonna be doing any parties just for the sake of partying. Right, right. And are you still with ABC?

Michael Baisden: No, no, no. I own my own show and I do have partners now. My partner is URN, Urban Radio Network, is our partner. Aye man ... I love your show. I love what you're doing man and what you did for music. I try believe, the day that R&B died was the day you left radio or whatever happened.

Michael Baisden: Well all they do at that point is program the music and put it on automatic, dude. That's all they do. No soul, no feelings, no impact. Just play the songs. It's like a stack of albums just letting it play. Yes sir. So Mike thanks for taking the time out to chop it up.

Michael Baisden: One more thing. Yeah, I'm starting Michael Baisden Exotic Dancers, man. Yeah, they gonna go out there and have real life strippers. if your momma and them want some real life, real men we gonna come in there with tool belts on and hard hats, a little belly, and come in there and dance for the ladies, man. Little gray chest hair, little gray chest hair. Yeah, you know. I'm just messing with you man.

Michael Baisden: Nice talking to you brother. And brother man, bless you brother. Bless you. Thank you.

Michael Baisden: Take care of yourself and don't forget about these exotic dancers for your mom and them.