BE Modern Man: Graham “Skip” Dillard
Radio programmer, broadcast content creator; 52; Operations Manager, WBLS-FM/WLIB-FM, New York City; Executive Board Member, the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce
I’ve enjoyed over 25 years of radio programming and management. I’ve been blessed to serve mass audiences some of the greatest radio stations in America with stops in Detroit, Buffalo, San Francisco, Washington DC and New York City, where I’ve programmed the legendary WBLS-FM for the past 11 years.
I also serve on the boards of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, The American Foundation for the University of the West Indies, and the Living Legends Foundation, which provides financial assistance to music/media professionals who have fallen on hard times.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN LIFE?
Being a father and having a chance to mentor so many media professionals who have crossed my path during my career as a radio programmer and manager.
HOW HAVE YOU TURNED STRUGGLE INTO SUCCESS?
I’ve always believed that God carries me through all my challenges. It’s never all on me. I’ve approached my career path and work as a radio programmer with a prayerful, open mind, and learned to call on my close circle of friends and family for advice and support through both good and not-so-good times.
WHO WAS YOUR GREATEST MALE ROLE MODEL AND WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM HIM?
My dad. He continues to inspire me by his obsession with reading and taking additional college courses into his 80s, even though he obtained his master’s degree in his early 20s. Most of all, he was always there and went without, so that I, my sister, and mother could have more.
WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
My mother used to tell me to hold my head up. Be proud and inspire others to be strong by my walk, not my talk.
HOW ARE YOU PAYING IT FORWARD TO SUPPORT OTHER BLACK MALES?
I’ve participated in numerous mentoring programs, including those of the Urban League and Eagle Academy Charter Schools in Greater NYC. I speak at high schools and colleges often.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE MANHOOD?
Not following the crowd. Being comfortable with yourself and going it alone when you have to. Being a man means learning how to “sacrifice” for what’s important in life. Integrity, faith, kindness toward others and the strength to walk away from negative people and influences are all part of growing into a complete man.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT BEING A BLACK MAN?
I love our history. I love the triumph of my ancestors from slavery through Jim Crow and the civil rights movement. We’re always underestimated; yet, we rise.
BE Modern Man is an online and social media campaign designed to celebrate black men making valuable contributions in every profession, industry, community, and area of endeavor. Each year, we solicit nominations in order to select men of color for inclusion in the 100 Black Enterprise Modern Men of Distinction. Our goal is to recognize men who epitomize the BEMM credo “Extraordinary is our normal” in their day-to-day lives, presenting authentic examples of the typical black man rarely seen in mainstream media. The BE Modern Men of Distinction are celebrated annually at Black Men XCEL (www.blackenterprise.com/blackmenxcel/). Click this link to submit a nomination for BE Modern Man: https://www.blackenterprise.com/nominate/. Follow BE Modern Man on Twitter: @bemodernman and Instagram: @be_modernman.