Cool Jobs: Hot 97's TT Torrez on Beating the Odds to Be a Power Woman in Radio

Cool Jobs: Hot 97’s TT Torrez on Beating the Odds to Be a Power Woman in Radio

Image: TT Torrez
Image: TT Torrez

With radio still being a male-dominated industry that has its fair share of ups and downs, do you feel there is room for women to show emotion in the workplace?

You know, I’ve been on my own since I was 14. I didn’t grow up with my mom or father so I knew at [that age] I had to do this on my own. When I was 14, my mom was a single mom of eight kids and she dropped me off at my friend’s house and never came back. I thought she was dead to be honest until one day I talked to my brother and he told me, “Oh, mommy moved to Virginia. She thought you would be better off here.” So that moment in my life was a turning point for me.

I finished high school and was the first in my family to graduate. I was the first to go off to college and make a career and not be on welfare. People think that’s so small but when you come from that and that’s all you see, it’s a big accomplishment because you can easily fall in the pit hole of what everybody else did. So for me, I never wanted people to see me break even if I was hurting. I know now as an adult that’s not always a good thing; to hide those emotions and pretend to the world that you’re good. I had to go through therapy to help me navigate it because that’s not really how you’re supposed to operate in life. So now, I’m learning how to show emotion. But in a business environment, sometimes I don’t think there’s room for tears.

What advice do you have for someone just graduating college who is interested in a radio career?

The biggest mistake people make is saying “Oh, I’m going to graduate college and have a job.” No, you should be working at that local radio station wherever you go to school and putting together you air checks right now. Nowadays, with the power of the Internet and digital, you also need to put yourself online and start to build your own brand. Then, you need to make sure that you know who the key people are. All the key people are online. Whatever radio station you want to work for look at their website and see who the program directors are. See if they are on Instagram and Twitter and start following them. E-mail them your air check and ask for advice. You may not get a response, which is cool, but keep sending great material to them. Some day they might say “Ohh, she had an interview with such and such. Let me hear how this sounds.” Also, build a relationship with bloggers so that if you have good content you can push it out to them. I’ve always had a good relationship with bloggers and that’s what has helped my brand. I would chop up my videos, put them on YouTube and blast them out to the bloggers. If it’s good material it will get picked up. Also, find out what your local radio station is, get on their street team and do stuff for free. Really start now and work hard. That’s really what it’s about as an intern; can you be trusted to get the job done?