Where are you from? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in East Flatbush in Brooklyn, and moved to South Orange, NJ when I was in 10th grade. My dad is Chinese and my mom is West Indian, but she’s an only child so family holidays are dominated by my Asian side. I grew up in a largely West-Indian populated neighborhood so that influenced my childhood. They played reggae all day on my block, and you could hear it coming through the walls day and night. I have an older brother also who I used to fight with every single day, but we became friends once we both graduated from college.
Growing up, what did you want your career to be?
I wanted to be a writer since I was in kindergarten and went to school with intentions of being an author and a photographer. But I also grew up as a music lover and I would listen to the radio with headphones on for hours at a time. I even got turntables and dj’ed for a couple of years when I got out of college. I still have serato and turntables at home.
I see you attended Wesleyan University, what was your major? How was your college experience?
I majored in English because I wanted to be a writer. College was fun freshman and sophomore year, but because Wesleyan is so small it got boring after that. I spent my junior year doing a teaching program where I went to classes at Bank Street College of Education while teaching 6th and 7th grade in Washington Heights. I’ve always felt like teaching was a rewarding job because you get to see the impact you have on kids’ lives immediately, and hopefully make a positive impact on their lives. At the same time, it’s mentally draining because some of these kids are so cruel to each other and you experience firsthand the hardships some of these students have at home.
Upon graduating college, what did you want to do with your degree?
At first, I got a job at a temp agency because I wanted to concentrate on writing and I wanted a job that I didn’t have to think about. But I hated it and I quit after 2 days and went to work at Wu-Tang. I already had interned there over the summer and they hired me right away.
I see you worked with Wu-Tang, what exactly did you do? How was that experience?
I was the assistant to the CEO, who was RZA’s brother Divine. It was the best job; I had my own office and used Divine’s office all the time because he was never there. I would be the first one a work every day and the last one to leave, but all of them are still like family to me until this day. I was in charge of payroll, attended meetings at Loud Records, Epic (for Razor Sharp), MCA, Geffen, and all the other labels Wu-Tang was affiliated with. I put together benefits, and Park Hill Day in Staten Island, which was a free fair with health information, rides, and a concert.
I started following your radio career on Shade 45 (Sirius) with your Lip Service show. I know you also had “The Morning After With Angela” & you co-hosted with Cipha Sounds, how did these shows differentiate?
When I first started I was Cipha’s co-host, so it was really his show but I had a lot of freedom on there to make my own segments and one of those segments was called “Slutted Out.” It was basically a way to let our listeners eavesdrop on the private conversations women have with each other. The segment turned out to be so popular that I got my own show, Lip Service. Lip Service was the first show I had that was completely mine, and it was also completely uncensored. We had some of the craziest guests, from a dominatrix who whipped her slave live on the air, to Max B running around with his penis out, to Yung Berg saying he doesn’t like “dark butts.”
How did you make the transition from satellite radio to Power 105.1? What’s different being on mainstream radio from satellite?
I think because I started off on satellite, I was always anti-fm radio. Then you realize that satellite radio has never really made someone into a star. Most of their talent came from fm radio, and the only way I would ever progress in my field was to leave. I don’t believe that satellite radio can really give you the support you need to take it to the next level. They have too many stations that take priority over a shade 45, or any of the urban stations for that matter. Power 105 definitely places great importance on its personalities succeeding. Maybe it’s because there’s a rating system, and we have to make sure advertisers spend money to keep us afloat. Either way, it’s been much better at Power as far as feeling like they want us to win. And obviously I’m a much more censored version of myself, but I do think my personality still comes through.
Can you tell me a little bit about your show on Power 105.1?
It’s me, DJ Envy and Charlamagne tha God. Envy is a little bit of an instigator, but he’s also the one who is into fashion, cars, and he’s in the clubs every night. Charlamagne is the wild card, you never know what he might say and he’s the most uncensored. I’m the voice of reason and the one with all the information.
How did you feel when The Source named you one of the top radio personalities in the country?
I was definitely surprised, but I was excited about it. I’m pretty sure the whole team will make the list this year. It’s great when people acknowledge how hard you work. We did everything ourselves on that show, with a small staff and our own camcorder.
If you weren’t doing radio, what would you want to do? I still want to be a writer, so one day when my life slows down a little I can concentrate on that. That’s my dream, to be able to go to an island and be cut off from the world with my laptop and no internet connection or phone.
You are well known for your fierce shoe game, what are your absolute favorite pair of shoes?
Booties are my favorite! I have so many pairs, but my favorite are my leopard print Louboutin Daffodil booties. I could eat them.
What is the yee-pee? That’s when you can’t hold it, and you have to pop a squat discreetly. I see men pee outside all the time, and when my friends and I go out it’s inevitable that one of us will demand that we pull over so she can go. That’s why I always have wet wipes and napkins in my car. It’s just part of life when you party a lot, and there’s no bathrooms open anywhere. But you do have to go somewhere with no traffic and hide.
Do you have any advice for those who want to be in your shoes one day? Just amplify your personality.
Don’t change yourself but be a bigger version of you. And make sure you stay on top of all the current events so you know what you’re talking about. Keep your mouth shut about things that can come back to you, and report the rumors but don’t be a part of them!
You were recently given the opportunity to become the new morning show host @ NYC’s Power 105.1FM|Clear Channel. What made you decide to go from national to local radio?
It was a tough decision. I had been at Sirius XM for 6 years already and had some other opportunities on the table as well. I had a great experience at Sirius, they gave me my start in radio and Shady is like family to me always. The whole crew at Shade 45, from DJ Wonder, Emoticon, AJ the Manchild, Reef, Leah McSweeney, Reggie Hawkins, Geronimo, BJ Stone – they all showed me so much support. I ended up making a list of what the pros and cons would be of starting over on Power 105 and ultimately, after speaking with the suits at Sirius I felt it was best for me to take my talents to local radio. New York is the number one market and this is an opportunity that most people will never even get. Gee Spin and Cadillac Jack at Power were so excited for me to join the team, and I already had a great relationship with DJ Envy and Charlamagne Tha God. In a way, it seems that because I started off at Sirius and had no prior radio experience, it was hard for the higher ups to understand the value I brought to the station. Even when I felt like I wasn’t getting what I deserved, I made sure I worked above and beyond what was expected. I was always on time, never called out sick, didn’t use all my vacation days, and really branded our morning show by making sure I was out and about even when I didn’t feel like it, to make the show better. I definitely learned that hard work pays off and I’m excited for this new challenge.
Will you have to alter your style in order to fit the Power 105.1 mold or will the NYC listening audience get Angela Yee as is?
It’s definitely an alteration. I believe if you’re great at what you do, you can still show your personality even with more restrictions. Now I’m part of a three person team, which means less mic time but on the flip side more support and viewpoints expressed.
How did you get into the radio field and how long did it take you to get to the level you’re @ right now?
I honestly have to say I owe it all to Paul Rosenberg at Shady Records. He offered me the opportunity to try it out on Shade 45′s morning show when the station first launched. I don’t even think he predicted how it would turn out, but because I had worked for him previously he knew that I would put my best foot forward. It’s always a work in progress. I started off as a co-host, then got my own weekly Lip Service show which helped me learn how to develop a cohesive show as well as brand myself individually. Then I got the opportunity to have my own show, which I jumped at and made sure that we were always improving and keeping it fresh. 6 years later and I’m on the radio in the city where I was born and raised!
Why is there such a lack of camaraderie between female artists i.e.: Nicki Minaj & Lil Kim? Is it possible for female artists to overcome the BS and support each other?
I believe that the media (sorry) and the consumers are the ones who really drive the wedge in between female artists. It’s like there isn’t room for more than one woman to shine at a time. People do the same thing with me in radio. They always compare me to other female personalities when I know there are room and a necessity for all of us. This doesn’t happen with men. Its like, “watch out Kim, Nicki’s coming for your spot,” instead of “y’all should work on a track together.” And we end up feeding into all that. There should always be a sense of competition because we all want to be the best, but there has to be a way to compete without beefing.
What do you hope to bring to Power 105.1?
I do want to represent for the women and be a strong voice in the mornings. I’m just like a lot of females who listen to the show. I have relationship problems, a shopping addiction (I love a good sale), I like to party, I hate getting up early, I watch reality shows, and I love music.
What do you say to the people that think your job is all fun & music and not “Real” work?
Then I’m doing a great job because it certainly should appear to be fun! I would hate for people listening to think, poor Angela is at work right now. It is fun, but there’s a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes. We have to be well-versed on what the headline stories are, stay on top of all the latest rumors, know exactly what we’re talking about each break, and know that people are believing that we are reporting facts. We can’t get it wrong or we lose our credibility. We get to work at 4:30/5am and stay until noon or 1 every day. Then we have our own meetings, etc to attend, and have to go out at night. It’s nonstop.
You really hold your own in a room with two very outspoken guys in Charlamagne and DJ Envy. What’s your favorite aspect of working with them every morning on The Breakfast Club?
Oh my gosh! The best part about working with them is that it’s always funny. We always have a good time. It doesn’t feel like work. Yes, I hate getting up every morning (laughs), but I never get up saying “I don’t want to go to work.” I say, “I wish I could have gotten another hour of sleep!” I don’t hate my job. I love it. Of course, we get into it sometimes, but even our arguments are funny. My favorite thing about working with the two of them is how much we support each other. I know that no matter what happens, they’ll have my back. If I tell them that a person said this or did that, they’re going to be on my side.
It’s common knowledge that you have a mean shoe game. Who are your favorite designers? Would you ever consider working with a shoe designer to make your own line?
I would love to work with a shoe designer (ecstatic)! That would be absolutely incredible for me. This season, I saw a lot of Giuseppe shoes that I love. Of course, everyone loves Louboutin. They just create incredible shoes. YSL, I’ve always loved their shoes. Balenciaga. I’m looking through my shoes right now to see what I have (laughs). And I will buy shoes from designers that I’ve never heard of before. The other day, I bought a pair by a designer named Diego Dolcini. Oh, I can’t forget Walter Steiger shoes! Their shoes are so comfortable and I love how their heels look.
You have such a wonderfully busy life but even the best career girls need some kind of non-work-related downtime. What do you do and where do you go to relax?
I love vacations. It’s funny because I never used to take them until I was about 23 or 24 years old. I was kind of late but now I realize how important they are. I think it’s great to really go away, even if it’s just for a couple days. It gives you something to look forward to and when you come back, you’re refreshed and ready to work. Also, reading and writing are both very relaxing to me.
What was life was like growing up for you and did you always know that you wanted to be involved in entertainment?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer ever since I was in kindergarten, so that was ultimately what I wanted to do with my life. I do it a little bit here and there but as far as music, I’ve always loved music. We used to have a record player in the basement and I would sit there and listen to music all day and my favorite movie growing up was Purple Rain, so I used to watch that over and over and over again. I never really thought about being in the music industry or anything like that. It all kind of just happened for me.
I [started out] doing an internship in college at TVT Records. At the time they were doing jingles and TV tunes but they had some artists signed there [as well]. I did that internship then I ended up interning at MTV and then I ended up interning for Wu-Tang. That had a huge impact on me because when I graduated from college, the first job I got after school was working with them so it all kinda just happened for me. It wasn’t a conscious decision.
What were some of your most interesting experiences with Wu Management?
I think when I first started working there I was a little nervous because they had a reputation for being rowdy and I was like, “I don’t know if I want to do this,” but they were great. I’m still good friends with all of them to this day. I remember when I first met Method Man I didn’t like him [laughs]. It’s because you have to understand people’s personalities. I think he’s the greatest now but when I first met him he would yell at me all the time but I didn’t realize it was all kind of joking around like, it was like, “Who is that? Why is he such an asshole?” But then when I realized that all I had to do was say, “Man shut up and stop being a baby!” It was all good. And obviously working with someone like Ol’ Dirty Bastard, that was always mad fun crazy stories. I used to have to put signs up in the office that said “Do not smoke weed” during business hours. We were on the 9th floor and they would smoke so much that you could smell it in the lobby. It was crazy. I used to be like, “I can’t concentrate if y’all are gonna come in here [laughs]. But it was fun. It was a great job. I had a lot to do. I was assistant to the CEO and so I was doing stuff like taking care of payroll and having meetings, I was sitting in on everything, going to the studio and learning to do a lot of things and meeting a lot of people who I don’t think I could have met just being some place that didn’t let me take charge the way they let me take charge.
How did you transition to radio?
I got into radio because I’m really cool with [Eminem’s manager] Paul Rosenberg. [When Em was with] The Outsidaz they opened up for Wu-tang’s Park Hill Day. It was this thing they did in Staten Island that I did for them. And that was a big deal. That was when Eminem wasn’t signed and I had seen him perform at all the Lyricist Lounge events prior to that. So Paul and I had always been cool ever since before the whole deal with Dr. Dre.
I had worked at Shady Limited Clothing Line. I helped launch the brand when they first put out Eminem’s clothing line and when they got the deal at Sirius for the radio station I was like, “I kinda want to work there but I wanted to do marketing because that’s what I always did at all these different clothing lines and for different products. So I called Paul up and said, “Hey, I want to do marketing over at Sirius. Is there a position open? Can you get me an interview?” And he suggested that I try to go on the air with Cipha Sounds because Cipha was over there doing a show in the morning. So it was that easy. I went over there, I had no radio experience whatsoever but once I got my foot in the door I really worked extremely hard and took advantage of every opportunity I could for very little money. I was making half the salary that I was making prior to go over there to work and that had me in debt for so long. But after the first year, I ended up getting a decent raise but it still wasn’t the kind of money that I was making before I went there. Sometimes you have to go backwards in your salary and everything that you do so that you end up where you think you eventually belong.
So you basically fell in love with radio?
Yeah, it was really fun. When you do radio it’s addictive, you miss being on that mic and like that fact that it’s something different every day. I like the fact that it forces me to keep up with current events, which I enjoy doing anyway. I sit around and chop it up and talk all the time so it feels just very natural.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
I think the biggest challenge is always feeling like you’re getting what you deserve. And I think a lot of people feel that way. I remember being at Sirius and feeling like, “Ok, come on guys. I’ve been working here for six years now and ya’ll still treat me like how you treated me when I first came in here.” And I think that’s an issue a lot of people have because it was my first job in radio. It’s not like they wooed me from some other place and offered me the position because they wanted to, it was a situation where I was placed here and they didn’t really have a choice about it so I think that’s always a difficult thing. And they’ll tell me, “You’re doing a great job but we don’t have any money,” and that’s always an issue. That’s an issue at a lot of different places, to get what you feel you’re worth. So all I can say is, if you feel like it’s not working out for you, then you have to be really great at what you do and have great relationships so at the end of the day, if you have to walk away you can.
As a cultural influencer, how has your role impacted the music industry in terms of what people like and how they react to artists?
I like when I do interviews with an artist and they may not have liked an artist at first but after they see my interview they’ll like them better. I’m not a shock jock at all. I’m a nice person but I’m very aware of people’s music and I’m aware of what’s going on and I try to stay in touch with what people are listening to, what people care about. So I think it’s great when people come up here and we do an interview and I feel like I’m very informed and very respectful of the artist, so hopefully it has impacted people in a positive way. I’m excited when I see things posted online where we do great interviews with people and you learn things that you didn’t know. You get to see a little bit of these artist’s personalities and find out more about what they like besides just the music they make and find out more about why they’ve made the decisions that they’ve made in their lives.
Where do you see radio going in the future?
I think it’s gonna have to be integrated more with the world wide web because there’s no way to avoid it. That’s one of the biggest things going on and there’s no way to be affective if you don’t have that online presence to support you. And I think that people like options. [The internet has] been helpful here at Power 105. We have the website so people can stream live if you’re not in NY. And we have the iHeart Radio app, which is for iPhone, Blackberry for all the phones and you can listen from anywhere on that so I think it’s been beneficial.
Where’s your career going next? Will you be an old lady doing radio like Dr Ruth [laughs]?
I hope so, if they’ll have me. I do miss doing Lip Service, that was a really fun show where you get to show your personality and all of that and I enjoy being here with Charlamagne and DJ Envy, and if I could do both of those things that would be great. I love doing interviews but yeah, I hope to have a long career like Wendy Williams, like Angie Martinez has, or just a lot of people in radio that I look up to. Howard Stern has had a really long career. I just hope that things keep on getting better and better and better, but we should definitely branch out into television soon too.