January 5, 2016 • alexandra.espinal
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“Radio is my life,” admits Khadijah Davis ’16. The Chicago native is currently the hip hop music director for MVL, Manhattanville’s radio station. Over the summer of 2015 she had the unique opportunity to intern with iHeartMedia in Chicago, working in the promotions department of radio stations such as WGCI and V103, among others.
Aside from working events and concerts, Davis got the opportunity to produce the afternoon show with DJ MoonDawg, an award-winning radio personality. His show airs on 107.5 WGCI-FM Chicago, Monday through Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. The experience helped her see everything that goes into a radio show.
“The show consisted of a pre-show, so before his actual show started at 2 p.m. I was there at 11 a.m. setting up his show, making sure the music was fading in and out with the correct stagers, finding topics for him to talk about,” explained Davis. “When you’re working a show and producing a show you also have to think about how you’re going to engage your demographic and your audience, what’s appealing to them right now.”
Luckily for Davis, MoonDawg’s demographic is females her age, so she was particularly helpful when it came to ideas for the show. “I would bring in my ideas, what I would want to listen to on the radio. We’d talk about The Real Housewives of Atlanta drama, stuff like that.”
Davis also learned how to work behind the scenes operations. “I was taught how to work the operation board, so I learned a lot about the back end part of working in a radio station. I also got to go to different departments, such as accounting and sales, and learn more about what they do and how they bring money into the radio station, which is really important.”
Aside from learning how a radio station functions, Davis learned a lot about branding and what it takes to be a radio personality. “They all have distinct personas,” explains Davis. “Each radio personality brands themselves and then it’s up to the sales executive to say ‘I’m going to reach out to this company to see if they want their product to be promoted on this show.’ The program director also explained how he picks talent for the radio stations. He wants someone that can evoke emotion in the listeners, that listeners can aspire to want to talk to, that can keep the listeners’ attention and is easy to talk to. They want it to be easy to listen to the radio personality.”
One of Davis’ most memorable day on the job was when she got to witness an interview with a Grammy-award nominated R&B singer. “Tamar Braxton came in to do an interview with V103 and WGCI to promote her new single and just hearing her experience in the music business, seeing the radio personality ask her questions, and seeing the work done behind the scenes was great.”
The internship offered Davis the opportunity to work with professionals in the field, something that students seldom get in classroom environments. She still keeps in touch with the program director, the promotions director, and the DJs she worked with.
This wasn’t Davis’ first internship in the music business, though. During the fall of 2014 and the spring of 2015 she interned at RCA Records’ Urban Promotions, which is responsible for making sure that artists under RCA Records are getting radio air play. Her internship at Urban Promotions landed Davis an interview with iHeartMedia. “I really enjoyed working at the record label and it was actually my supervisor there who got me in contact with iHeartMedia. It’s all about networking.”
When asked what advice she would give to someone trying to make it in the music business, Davis, a business management and music major, thinks it’s important to take advantage of time and give it your all. “If you want to work in the industry, just apply, don’t wait,” she says. “I applied many times to WGCI and they never responded; I finally got the internship through my previous internship. It’s all about strategy, so don’t stop trying. Remain in contact with everyone that you work with and make a good impression. This is a very competitive industry, so when you get your foot in the door you have to take it seriously. You really have to show what makes you unique.”
Additionally, Davis thinks that any and all work experience is valuable. Before working at RCA Records and iHeartMedia, Davis interned at Medline Industries, a medical company. Before that she interned at a wedding company in Chicago. “I really started off in two different industries that had nothing to do with what I wanted to do, but I used what I learned from these experiences to get me to RCA Records, and then to iHeartMedia.”
After graduating, Davis hopes to continue working in the music industry. “I don’t know where I’ll be working, but the plan is to work in radio, build a following, and then branch off into T.V. and music,” she explains. “I’m really using radio as a platform, as a foundation to build my career.”
School of Arts and SciencesManhattanville Students
Internship SpotlightKhadijah DavisMVL RadioCenter for Career DevelopmentiHeartMedia