Interview with “Papa Keith” (103.5 The Beat)

From waiting in lobbies for an internship opportunity to becoming a radio personality for 103.5 The Beat 

In 2013, I was fortunate enough to be given my first internship opportunity by Keith Walcott. Keith, PK, or “Papa Keith” as his listeners know him has been doing radio for many years, so when iHeart Media decided to bring back 103.5 The Beat to Miami, there was no doubt Keith was their guy. I have learned so much from Keith, probably more than he even realizes and I truly believe that anyone interested in radio would be lucky to get advice from him. During my time interning, I witnessed Keith multitasking from the moment he walked in the door at noon until the moment the rush hour jam went off-air. He is a hustler at heart – he can do commercials, promotions, events, social media, and blog…. All while greeting you with a warm “Hi sweetie.” Thank you, PK, for the valuable lessons you passed my way!

We did a sit down interview on-camera a few months ago, but unfortunately the lighting in the studios are not that great so, I decided to type up everything he shared with me. Here’s what he had to say on radio, internships, and being prepared for your opportunities:

First, can you explain to everyone what you do here at iHeart?

I do afternoons from 2-6pm and I am also the production director which means I create and input commercials in the system

I obviously know your story, but I want everyone else to get to know how you got started?

I was Dj’ing, hosting, and doing stuff like that until one day I got the opportunity to DJ on a show that Uncle Luke, Luther Campbell, had on 99 jams, “The Luke Show.” My crew and I were reggae DJ’s and after that experience I just totally fell in love with radio. I had a good friend of mine named Darnella who is kind of like my mentor and she guided me. The first thing I did was I went to school for radio to learn how everything works, I went to Miami Lakes Tech.

Once you were done with school, what did you do internship wise?

I interned for Terry Alexander. Back in those days you used to pull cd’s. There would be a certain amount of CD’s per show. I would get the CD’s and put it in order and after that I would go out and do promotions or help with production.

You have a great story on why you were given the opportunity to start there…

While I was going to Miami Lakes Tech, we would get off at around 2 something and I would get something to eat then go to 99 jams. They would ask me “Do you have an appointment with the program director?” which at the time was Zedrick Hollywood and I would say no, so they would make me sit in the lobby. I would sit in there every day and watch people go in and out and I did it for so long that I began to develop relationships with the sales people, I would bring food, and I would bring Terry cigarettes. Maybe about a month or so after, they were doing the top 99 songs of the year and they needed help pulling out all that music. Darnella was working for 99 at the time and she convinced Zedrick to allow me to help. They couldn’t get rid of me after that!

When you go about looking for YOUR interns, what are some of the qualities that shine through to you?

A positive attitude- I want to work with eager people. Not that they want to work in radio and think that it’s a stepping stone. Of course if you get into radio and you decide you want to do something else, that’s fine. But not if your attitude is I’m going to do “this” until something else works out. I try to figure out if radio is really their passion or it’s just celebrities.

When I was working with you, the greatest thing I learned was to always double check my work and I take that with me wherever I go. What is something you take with you no matter what job you’re doing?

The attitude to learn everything – You have to make yourself non-disposable or irreplaceable. The more you know, the higher your value is. If you can do production, you can do voice overs, on-air, and promotions, you’re more valuable to that company.

Any last advice you want to give?

Understand what you’re getting yourself into. I think the most annoying thing when I talk to people about radio is they don’t educate themselves enough. Take the time and educate yourself because if you don’t do that then why would you expect it from me? Learn the basics of what it is radio is.

Build yourself from the ground up, right?

Yes, it’s not just I want to do this. But why do you want to do this? You won’t believe how many people I say that to.

Follow Keith on Social Media:

IG/Twitter: @Papa_Keith

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