It is no secret that Questlove’s brain is similar to an ultra massive music library. A music library filled with genres spanning from the 50s (I am sure earlier than that) and beyond. That library mind of his has gotten him in the booth with the best and brightest in the business. He is our Crush of the Week because he makes sure that his love for music, and its history, is heard. And boy is he going to let everyone hear it. This week, Rolling Stone recapped one of the sessions from his New York University class, Topics in Recorded Music: Classic Albums.
Rhea “Rhea Bea” Roberts is a Los Angeles-based Radio DJ/Journalist who seeks adventure every chance she gets. If she’s not behind the mic interviewing your favorite stalk-worthy celebrities, she may be doing something awesomely random like flying a plane (or jumping out of one). Now that the chatty-Laker-loving-Hampton alumni has worked for well-known LA radio stations, such as Power 106 and 102.3 KJLH, she is beginning to branch out worldwide with her own online radio show, No U Ain’t Radio.
We were able to steal a little bit of her precious time to get her secret on love, what makes her bold and daring and her perspective on the radio industry.
The Pearl Mic: Tell me if I am right or wrong, but I would describe you as an adventure seeker. You skydive, you are actively working on getting your pilot’s license and you recently completed the Los Angeles Marathon. What propels you to do these feats that many people are afraid to do?
Rhea Bea: I am definitely an adventure seeker….a daredevil. I get that from my parents. They’ve both always been extremely active. Some of my friends think I’m crazy, but I’ve always found interest in doing things that are out of the ordinary or that most people are too scared to try. lt’s more of me challenging myself to see what I can accomplish.
TPM: You’ve worked in the radio business for quite a few years; knocking out many accomplishments. What originally sparked your interest in the radio industry?
RB: It’s funny. I’ve always been passionate about writing and music, but my first two years in college I was a Biology major. I initially wanted to be a physical therapist. Crazy right? I was completely bored and, although I was getting good grades, I had little interest in what I was studying. One day on my way to one of my lab classes I saw a sign that a local radio station was holding auditions for on-air personalities. I auditioned and ended up landing a show. The next semester I switched my major to Broadcast Journalism. I received the call that I landed my first Los Angeles radio gig the day before I graduated.
TPM: So you are a part of the hilarious, talented crew, No U Ain’t Radio, which to us, seems more like a movement than just a typical radio show. How did the title of the show come about?
RB: I love that you think we’re hilarious and talented! It’s definitely a movement. No U Ain’t Radio came about while I was working at a popular radio station in Los Angeles with Doc, Big PWee and DJ Smoooth Dee, who are all part of the No U Ain’t crew. We were so blessed to have the opportunity to work at that station, first of all because it was owned by Stevie Wonder, who is probably the coolest boss you could ever have, but secondly because we learned so much about the business. However, when you’re working for somebody else you don’t always have as much freedom as you would have if you were working for yourself. I have a creative mind, and I felt like a lot of my ideas weren’t being heard. After awhile I felt like there wasn’t anymore room for growth, so collectively, Doc, P-Wee, Smooth and I created an outlet for ourselves to play the music we want to, interview the artists and celebs that we want to, and talk about what we want. Initially the show was pre-recorded and could only be seen and heard on YouTube. A couple of months into recording the show it was picked up by Urban Soul Radio, and it airs in over 138 countries, so we’re extremely happy. The website nouaintradio.com just kind of started as a blog to post our webisodes and it took off. We didn’t know how big it had become until we saw celebs like Spike Lee and Tyrese tweeting it. We were like WHOA!
It’s so random how the title came about. A few years ago I was hosting an event called ‘Girls Rock Too’ and Doc was there with me. One of the performers (who is actually a good friend of mine) grabbed the mic and started singing the intro to her performance, which was “When I step on the stage I’m a thrilla…” She sounded really good, but some drunk guy in the back yelled out “NO U AIN’T!”. I don’t think she heard him, but the phrase became an inside joke between Doc and I. Our motto is ‘We Tell It Like It Is…Not Like It Was’. We’ve built our fan base off of people appreciating our honesty. The name just kind of made sense for our vision.
TPM: What do you think about the future of “urban” radio in LA and where does No U Ain’t Radio fit in?
RB: It depends on what your definition of Urban radio is. In Los Angeles, the urban audience isn’t predominantly African-American…it’s Latin, so there are several stations that cater to and will continue to cater to the Urban community: Power 106, KDAY, Latino 963, AMP, HOT 92.3, KIIS FM.
If you’re talking about Urban radio as far as music that black folks listen to and on-air personalities that cater to a black audience, it’s almost non-existent in Los Angeles right now, with the exception of KJLH. Los Angeles has the 8th largest black market in the country, but there probably aren’t even 8 black on-air personalities on AM/FM radio out here. Being that we’re in the age of satellite radio, online radio and radio smartphone applications, I’m not sure if that aspect of radio in Los Angeles will ever revive itself.
No U Ain’t Radio isn’t focused on just being heard in Los Angeles. Being that we’re online, we are able to be heard anywhere, which has broadened our fan base. We have listeners on the other side of the country and overseas that we never would have been able to reach if we were just based in Los Angeles. Don’t get me wrong, I would love for there to be a localized station similar to 92.3 THE BEAT in the ’90s, but I just don’t think that’s in the stars right now.
TPM: We all know that the entertainment industry is dominated by men. Have there been times where you found yourself intimidated? And if so, how did you overcome it?
RB: I can’t say I’ve ever been intimidated by all of the testosterone. I grew up around a lot of guys. I was always that chick that was more into sports than clothes and make-up, so it wasn’t a huge transition for me to be surrounded by fellas. I have a lot of “big brothers” who have my back.
TPM: If you weren’t a DJ you would be _____.
RB: somewhere working with Magic Johnson picking his brain. I love that man!
TPM: The Pearl Mic motto is to “Be Bold, Beautiful and Brilliant. Give us your perspective on what it takes to be a bold, beautiful and brilliant woman.
RB: Bold, beautiful and brilliant is all in your attitude and the way you carry yourself. I think it’s exerting a confidence about yourself that makes people admire and respect you. It’s not being afraid to be you.
RB: Thank you. Ladies…I know this sounds cliche but it will hit you when you LEAST expect it, so you don’t even have to look for it. When I met my fiance I was focusing on everything but being in a relationship. Men are attracted to women who are handling their business, so don’t drop everything you’re doing to make your life revolve around a man. That’s a BIG mistake a lot of women make.
TPM: Do you have any future adventures or projects coming up?
RB: I’m actually working on a book. I don’t want to release the title just yet, but lets just say it will show people a completely different side of me.
Be sure to visit No U Ain’t Radio for updates on news, entertainment and sports. You can hear Rhea and her crew every Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. (PST) on UrbanSoulRadio.fm. Get updates on Rhea’s greatest adventures by following her on Twitter @rheabea.