#HERStory: Dear Ohio....
My first day on air in Ohio was in Toledo, March 1, 2008. Three years later, I was homeless and sleeping in a motel. Or my car. My daddy said "you know you can come home and start over." Without hesitation, I told him "daddy I can't come home; I just got this new radio job in Cleveland and I would have to quit. I would be out of radio again." That's how much I love this.
From the first time I ever spoke on a mic in Ohio, I've learned so much about myself, this industry, and about life. Toledo taught me how to adjust to different weather, accents, and language. The first time someone told me I had them "weak," I asked if they were okay, because I didn't know that meant that I was funny and made them laugh. I had to buy a coat when I moved here, because I realized the coat I left Louisiana with was a jacket. I learned that I should have flyers for events that I do, and I began to learn how to host events. People in Ohio give Toledo a bad rap, but I love that city.
Yes, that’s a bowl of cereal. I still have that bowl.
I got fired in Toledo and got a part time job in Cleveland. And even though I was only on air Saturdays 9 am-12 pm, I had learned that I needed to let people know, in the most fly way I knew how. So I got my makeup professionally done for the first time and had a photoshoot.
In between working in Toledo and Cleveland, I sent my aircheck (an audio compilation of the best of you on air) to 72 different Program Directors in the country. Literally one person emailed me back: Colby Colb in Cleveland. That man did not have to take the time to email me back, let alone continue to listen to my stuff, ask me to audition, and take me on as a part time jock at his station.
But he did.
And because of that, I vowed to turn that $13.11/hr into a livable salary. I hosted every event I could, spoke at every school and community event I was allowed entry into, and founded my organization, leading to the very website on which you're currently reading. I knew that I had been given a second chance, and I planned on making the most of it. Prior to getting an apartment the size of a celebrity’s closet, I would wake up at 5:15 am in a hot and smelly motel, drive to Cleveland and be on air from 9-12, tell Tone bye, then drive back to that same motel. Nobody knew that I sometimes hadn’t eaten and had no food to look forward to. I didn’t tell them because I knew I would be okay. And I was. I hustled my way into being a household name in Cleveland.
That part time job landed me a full time job in Columbus. 7p-12a was mine and I dominated. Because of Cleveland, I had learned how to brand lilD in the way that I saw fit. I knew how she dressed, what music she liked, and how she reacted to certain situations. I went from being too shy to host a club, to grabbing a mic and making others around me afraid to grab it after me. Bill Black and Mat Myers allowed me the freedom to be lilD, which I appreciate more than they'll ever know.
I made money in Ohio, bought a new car, fixed my credit...I even ran a half marathon. But the thing I’m most proud of is the impac I’ve had on so many people. There are so many girls who look like me, who are made to feel like their features aren’t worth celebrating. Like their dark skin isn’t radiant. Their big lips aren’t luscious. Their kinky hair isn’t perfect. They look at me with my twist-out and my pink lipstick and my Chuck Taylors and they say “lilD looks like me, and she got on the radio. She told me I can accomplish my goals too, and I believe her.” I am a champion for girls all over the state of Ohio, and it pains me the most to leave them.
But this 10-year chapter is coming to an end. I grew up in Louisiana, but I became a woman in Ohio. I owe you more thanks than can fit in this post, but I'll try. Thank you, Ohio...for teaching me how to hustle. For seeing me at my worst, then helping me become my best. For laughing at my jokes. For appreciating my transparency. But most of all, for building me up to be ready to accept a midday position in Dallas, my dream job. I will always love you and will NEVER forget you. That's a promise.
Dedicated to the memory of Alexandria “Poopie” Winegarner.