Felisha Monet: The Art of the Hustle

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Every City has a radio station that reflects the city’s culture. When it comes to South Florida radio, 99 Jamz is that station. On weekdays between 2pm-7pm you will hear a voice that grabs you. This charismatic voice filled with passion and energy will literally put a smile on your face. The voice I speak of is the voice of Felisha Monet. Felisha wears many hats in this industry: Radio personality, event host, tastemaker, and the list goes on. She is as pretty as your favorite model with the hustle of a Forbes list Mogul. Her journey goes far beyond any box you try to put her in. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Felisha to peel back all the dope layers of her personality and get a better understanding of what she is all about.

What was it like growing in such a culturally diverse place like New York City? You know growing up in NY was dope...being exposed to different cultures is what helps us learn about others... But it’s most certainly segregated. My neighborhood was Black and Latinos... and the Latinos was really Puerto Rican and Dominicans only (laughs) when I moved to S. Florida that is when I met Cubans Brazilians folks from Argentina... But I love it!

You have very unique features what is your ethnicity and nationality? “Unique” features.... that sounds funny... you trying to tell me I’m ugly on the low??? lol but nah I am American... mixed! My mom is of Russian descent. My pops Black ­Jamaican and Native American...

At one age did you get the entertainment bug? When I was about 14 I knew I wanted to do radio. I was always into music. My parents had a pretty dope record collection and my older brother was a DJ. It just seemed fitting since I couldn't sing or rap...lol I don't even play instruments but I wanted to leave my mark and be apart of something great. Radio it was! oh wait I did play the recorder once.

Did you always envision entertainment being your career one day? To be honest I thought I wanted to be a lawyer... but that changed real quick when I learned I would have to be in school for a long time ...lol

Was your family supportive of your passion for entertainment as a kid? As a kid my family was always supportive of whatever I wanted to do. If it was sports, theatre, dance...but as an adult the support started to get a little questionable because I was struggling financially. They would be real quick to say, “Why don't you get a real job?” “Why don't you have benefits?” “Why you always broke?” lol Going after your dream is not easy... I can remember MANY times my parents telling my to find another career path. I don't think it was because they didn't support but because no parent wants their child to struggle. They just wanted stability...and following dreams and passion is not the conventional way. We are taught to go to school, graduate, get a good paying job, work there for 25+ years and retire. That life isn’t for everybody.

When did you get your first opportunity in radio? It was back in 2001, I was working inside Governor Square Mall selling sneakers at the Underground and one of the radio DJs pretty much offered me a radio job on the spot. He was like come to station over the weekend...I went...and was working that Monday! Crazy right ... That’s God!

How were those early air check demos sounding? Yoooo I swear I was just cleaning out my closet a few days ago and I found like 3 old air checks...2 were on cassette tapes the other was a CD. I sounded so young and unpolished. They were real raw, and rough around the edges, but that energy and hunger was still there. I heard that for sure.

At what point did you realize you had what it takes to make radio a career? I don't know if I ever had a point per say... but I truly believe that this is my purpose and calling. It’s very natural for me. I love music...I love this culture... it’s apart of my lifestyle, so it comes at ease. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not. I sound like me...I move like me...and I think once anyone can be comfortable with themselves you have what it takes to become successful in whatever you are doing. Plus you cannot cheat the process... so the amount of hard work, time, dedication, studying you put in will always pay off in time. I'm 10+ years in and I feel like it’s just the beginning.

Outside of Angie Martinez, who were some other radio personalities that inspired you coming up? You know Ang just has a special place in my heart...but Howard Stern also was someone who influenced me. Even though my style is not “shock” jock at all... I’ve study and watched so many Howard Stern interviews...his wit and humor and ability to make people feel comfortable with him even though he was uncensored was super dope to me. Also Wendy Williams, her control and confidence always came through the airwaves. No matter what the situation was on air...she controlled it! Even when it got tense with artists...she was always in control. I learn from everyone I work with though ... and I am inspired by my current peers in this industry .It takes a lot to do radio...and I salute everyone who is doing it and staying true to the culture.

You are always credited for being one of the first people to break T pain on radio. Tell us about that? Pain! I’m super proud of him man. I was able to witness it from the beginning...He is talented and I always feel a little crazy taking credit...I can’t take credit...that man and his movement was strong...I was just happy to be apart of it. I was just happy to be able to use my platform (radio) to help the process. But Tallahassee was most certainly behind him. Back then I was doing over nights and had the freedom to add music to my show...Pain was my go to record every hour... next thing I know he got signed. I didn't even realize I was giving him that many “spins” lol ..I just genuinely believed in the music.

When you started with 99 Jamz were you nervous to work at a legendary station given its history and track record? What??? Nervous is not the word!!! Yo for a whole year I would write down my breaks and practice in the mirror at home before I went to work. See I moved down to South Florida in 2006 after I gave birth to my son and took 2 years off from radio. When I got that phone call on my sons 2nd Birthday saying Jamz wanted to hire me... it was unbelievable! I was rusty and straight up green! Real talk...My first day was Memorial Day weekend and I remember feeling so knotted up in my stomach and my throat had the biggest lump in it. You know when you about to cry and you try to hold it in?? That was the feeling...shit was crazy. Took me about a year to get my flow going. lol

You have had a lot of Number one rankings for your show. How important are those accomplishments to you? Man ...I'm just happy that the people rock with me the way they do. South Florida has accepted me as their voice...and it’s important for that connection with the people, the streets, the community be there first. That is important to me! It just so happens that the people make me their #1 choice, lol so yea I’m happy about that but humbled... A lot more work to do though...so can’t get caught up in the celebration too much. Plus my mentor used to say; “I hired you to be #1 nothing else” the standard was always set high.

How does working in South Florida compare to any other station you have worked at? This is my home! Nothing compares to it. It is a different experience being down here. From the beaches to the restaurants...the nightlife, the culture...it’s just that vibe! Tourism is high, folks always in and out...the celebs live here...I mean we live where people vacation at...where people want to party at... the snow birds come for winter...nothing compares to it!

I feel like even after all these years you still sound hungry and engaged in air. What still inspires you? You know what I learned that when you are happy doing something...you give it your all! I am still happy doing radio...even with all the changes in the industry, I am still happy and look forward to cracking that mic. This isn't a job for me...so I feel like I have not even reached my peak...like there is sooooo much more for me to learn...to get...to make happen. So yea I stay hungry. This is how I eat... how I feed my son... that's the motivation. I want to make sure everyone around me is good. From my family to friends to my team...the goal is always “I eat...WE eat...I Win ...WE WIN”

What do you say to the people who think radio is all glitz and glamour? Glitz and glamour?? In radio??? Hell NO! lol if you want Hollywood shit do movies...be an actor. Radio is not that for me at least. If you think going to clubs skipping the line...getting comp’d bottles, meeting celebrities is the “life” you might need to reevaluate the reason why you want to get in the game. That fame that glitz and glamour stuff gets people confused...makes corny people think they cool...broke folks think they rich...Radio and entertainment for that matter is work. A lot of hours and a lot of preparation, you know the saying “blood, sweat and tears!”

I know that you have appeared on several reality shows as well as other television programs. Are you looking to venture into acting one day? You know I would love to be on that BIG screen....I see it! Why not...I feel that I can do anything...No limits. But I respect the craft so I would, if I were to be seriously and actively pursuing acting I would take the necessary steps to study and learn acting. I would not do Reality TV as a cast member... guest appearance cool but not apart of the cast.

Who are some artists that you have come across and you could tell they were going to be a star? Steph Lecor...she has something about her. She just signed with my brother DJ Khaled to We The Best, but she has something! I see it. Another up and coming star from Miami is this Spanish singer named Monique. She is going straight to the top! You know I meet artist all the time but a star...that is something different! Stars stand out for no reason. You just see their light...see the potential and believe that something greater is in store.

I know there is a great deal of music out there some reach longevity and some are one hit wonders. What are key elements to a hit in your opinion? What makes a hit a hit??? Gesssh that’s the million dollar question right there. I think there are so many factors that are at play. Timing, sound of the record, the visuals...even to the tempo...It all has to just come together and be something great. But ultimately in my opinion the people decide what a HIT is! The people will let you know if they rockin with a record.

What advice do you have for indie and unsigned artist that are trying to get spins on mainstream radio? First be honest with yourself! Ask yourself, who is your favorite artist and will that person jump on that track with you? If the answer is no, then go back to the drawing board kid. Make your sound bigger. Make sure you have a strong hook too. Radio hits have hooks! Also music changes...know the latest trends...know the season on when to put out certain sounding records... study the craft and most importantly invest in mixing down your record properly. Sound quality is everything.

Do you think Enough DJs are breaking enough records these days? DJs are certainly breaking artist and creating movements. But it is NOT solely on the DJ to “break” a record. Artist need to do the work...need to lay the groundwork down first before even stepping to the DJ. Have your movement strong...or create a movement/sound that will make DJs and radio get on board. Listen I work with DJs and I have seen them personally “break” records...then what happens after that one record “hits”? A lot of times there is no follow up...no groundwork and it dies out. But we live in a time where the “Internet” is the new “DJ”.... I mean really if DJs are not playing it or not supporting...get your self HOT online. It’s 2015...everyone has access. No excuses...South Florida had 3 artists that was up for the 10th spot on that XXL Freshman list...and none of those 3 had radio

Support! That is dope to me so salute to Denzel Curry Bizzy Crook and Quest! Just know I see the movements!

You host a lot of events and parties. What reaction do you get when people see you in public as opposed to when they hear you on the radio? lol So far it’s good. People just want to be able to put a face with the voice they hear. One time someone recognized the voice when I was ordering food...and asked if I was Felisha Monet...lol least I don't change my voice. But the craziest reaction was this girl telling me she thought I was dark skin and fat...ahhhhh I didn't know how to take that one. lol

If you had to describe your radio style in three words what would they be? Hustle, Hustling and Hustler!!! LoL

What are some of your guilty pleasures? Reality TV ... though I have been slacking lately. Ice cream and desserts. I have a sweet tooth...and most recently Dark & Stormy’s!! Got put on when I was in LA...those drinks are good.

You have had some great interviews. What are some of your favorites and why? You know I don't have a favorite one per say...but any interview that the artist can be honest and vibe, have fun and connect with the audience is a good one for me.

If I looked in your Playlist what kind of music would be in there? Everything!!! I vibe MGMT to Sade... PM Dawn to Meek Mill ...Sia to freaking Bocelli. I love music... All music. I listen to Soundscapes too. You know the spa type music. I drive my friends crazy when they’re in the car with me. lol

What advice do you have for young girls that want pursue opportunities in the entertainment field? It doesn't matter how many No's you hear ...it only takes one Yes! Keep pushing.

What's next for Felisha Monet? I don’t know...but whatever it is ... I want it to be Great!!!

How can fans keep up with you and your movement? Of course my #Hustlers can tune in to my show the #AfternoonHUSLTE Mon­-Fri 2pm-­7pm on 99 Jamz ... On that Tune In App and iHeart...search 99 Jamz. Follow the movements on the gram @FelishaMonet99 Twitter @FelishaMonet and www.itsfelishamonet.com

Do you have any final words? I want to say this to everyone that is hustlin...working that 9 to 5, going to school, working 2 jobs to provide for their family, starting from nothing building from the ground up...follow your dreams...know your passion and work hard! Be dedicated...Focus! Make sure your tunnel vision is strong. Don’t look left...don’t look right...focus on your target! You gotta get to your finish line! Let’s be GREATer

Thank you for having me share my thoughts too ...Salute to Nine5Four Magazine for reaching out. Luv

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