Part of Radio Ink‘s mission is to find radio’s future stars and bring you their stories. Brandy “Beasy Baybie” Henshaw is the afternoon host on Alpha Media’s Hot 103.9/93.9 in Columbia, SC. She’s also featured in the upcoming Radio Ink issue “Future African American Leaders in Radio,” which starts mailing across the country on March 19.
Brandy tells Radio Ink one of her many jobs is to spread love to the listeners weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and most Saturday mornings. Her path to radio was, like many, not typical, and her story is truly inspirational.
Radio Ink: How long have you been in the business, and why did you decide on radio as your career?
Henshaw: My very first day in radio was at a Charlotte, NC station back in September of 2012. I began as an intern with BJ Murphy on WGIV — The Soul of Charlotte (now Streetz 103.3). I had a GED, passion for people, and limitless ambition. So though I had no real radio experience, outside of being a listener, I wanted it, and was willing to do the work required. I don’t think I really knew I wanted to be in radio until the first time I was live on air. I realized how much of an impact I could have on someone’s day. Really understanding just how powerful radio is, and how the right words, coupled with playing the right song, could brighten someone’s mood. I thought it was pretty amazing that radio would allow me to do that for so many people at once. So, a year after I started my journey in radio, a midday position opened up with Chris Connors at Alpha Media’s Hot 103.9 in Columbia, SC and I leapt at the opportunity. I began my career at Hot in September of 2013 as a part-time on-air talent, voice-tracking the midday spot, and have grown pretty rapidly since. Transitioning from part-time to full-time, and from middays to afternoon drive.
Radio Ink: What makes you passionate about the radio industry?
Henshaw: Though I have always loved music, I never really entertained this being a real option for me. I was a raised by a single mother, then as a teen I was in and out of foster and group homes, finally becoming a ward of the state. My early adult years consisted of a pretty rough life. I became a single mother of four girls and even spent some time in prison. So my getting an opportunity to even intern in radio was amazing to me. It wasn’t until my first on air experience that I realized the impact a personality could have on a person’s day – and I was sold. I want to help people. I love how music can change our mood, create memories, make us FEEL something — and I’m excited every day that I’m able to be a part of that. I’m always overjoyed by the way radio ties into community initiatives to make sure the listener not only feels good, but IS GOOD. Whether it’s through appearing at a career day at our local schools, food drives at local pantries, or drives for funding that assist on a national level. The marriage between radio and the listener’s heart is what drives me to be better daily, and to keep the fire lit.
Radio Ink: What are your goals, both personally and to make the industry better?
Henshaw: My personal goals are to continue to learn, everything about every position within the industry. I believe understanding how the parts work separately will allow us to encourage better operations collectively. I would like to become syndicated, either through my current afternoon show or the beginnings of a new morning show. I plan to continue to utilize my on-air talents while initiating opportunities to eventually become a programmer. I will continue to strengthen community ties, and to build great relationships within, and outside of the industry; and in the near future, taking on the title of Community Liaison. I am eager to create a partnership between radio and television that will give our listeners a better opportunity to see more of what they hear daily. Also, configuring an option that gives them more control over what they hear when they tune in. Whether through an app or online it would allow them to select options that only give them what they desire; from our local radio stations.
Furthermore, I admire great leaders in the industry, not bosses, leaders. I plan to lead and create other leaders. To show the younger generation of radio hearts how to never forget just how important people are. The people that work for and with you, as well as the people that keep you employed — from the CEO to the listener. Ensuring we never forget the importance of treating everyone the same. I think sometimes, in the acquisition of the dollar, the human is overlooked. Some radio markets are running like warehouses; with a machine running the market. When we begin to separate the person from the market, we slowly kill radio. I plan to do whatever I’m able to keep the heart beating for as long as possible. Even in syndication, making trips to these areas and getting to know the people in each market. Never forgetting that the consumer, the listener, is who keeps us all employed.
Radio Ink: Why do you think you’ve been successful to this point in your career?Henshaw: What makes me most successful is that I completely understand that God is ultimately in charge and success is not attached to a dollar amount or title. So long as I’m living my God given purpose, I’m always successful, no matter how that appears to others. I think I have had a positive experience in this field due to a few things: not taking “no” at face value— understanding that “no” just means “not right now” or “not that way”. Being interested in continual growth is another reason I think I’ve been able to remain employed. Continually seeking opportunities to grow personally, so that I’m able to further grow the station, and company that I am employed by. I don’t see limitations, only other options for acquiring a position or obtaining a thing. I think my passion and willingness to work has also helped. If I can’t find the answer here, I’ll look there, and so forth. I ask for critique, I listen to vets in the industry; I keep my hands busy so that I never get comfortable at any level. Not ever being too big to do the grunt work or too low to think I’m undeserving of something greater. I love God and that allows me to love people. When you truly want to see others live their best lives, the universe has a way of working that out for you as well.
Radio Ink: If you were promoted to a much higher position of leadership tomorrow, what would you do to improve radio?
Henshaw: I would talk to the listener. Make radio more about them, and cater to the community more. Each market is different, so a universal “blanket” may work for the company, but is not in the best interest of the listener. I would take inventory of my staff and place people in areas where they will organically grow. People are happy when they are doing something they love and are equally good at; I would find that in everyone and place them accordingly (the house runs better when the water is in the sink, not on the living room floor — some companies are focused so much on the monetary aspect that the wires are getting wet). I would keep things live and local, and even if there was syndication they would have to commit to a certain number of local events, contractually.
Radio Ink: What advice would you give someone getting started in radio?
Henshaw: Make sure you’re doing what you love. It’s a job and it requires work. Build your network and never stop learning. Don’t fill up on the applause, or be beaten down by the boos, as they both will constantly change. Don’t become too celebrity, stay a listener and always remember you’re a part of the community you live in — so, act like it. There was always a first to do something, and just because it’s never been done doesn’t make it impossible. Create, be innovative, and never think you know everything; no one does. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be discouraged by finances, create more income externally. It’s not ideal, but I thank God for being able to utilize public assistance my first few years in radio, it’s not always going to be glamorous. Stay the course!
Reach out to Brandy to congratulate her on her success in radio and her great story at [email protected]