In our never-ending quest to educate the hip-hop audience on the behind-the-scenes work that goes into bringing the world all the newest music, we bring you this month’s “Industry Hustla of the Month”, Lil’ Nat of Kiss FM & the “On The Back-Burner” Cooking Show. Representing the next generation of young talent on the airwaves of some of the Tri-State area’s biggest Radio Stations including Hot 97 Fm & Kiss FM, Lil’ Nat has been a fixture on late-night radio for several years, and has since expanded her brand to include her mega-popular cooking show, among other ventures. Ya boy Tommy Gunz recently sat down with Lil’ Nat and talked about everything. Check out the interview below
Q: So Lil’ Nat for those who don’t know, how long have you been doing radio?
A: OMG. If I tell you, then you will know my age (laughs). Lets just say since college in the 90s. (winks)
Q: How did you get your start in the Radio game? What was your big break ?
A: I got my start at WNYU 89.1 FM doing college radio. I was Phillip Smart’s intern/assistant for his reggae show. Then I got my own R&B show called “Xstacy”. By senior year at NYU I received an internship at 98.7 Kiss FM in New York in the promotions department for 2 semesters.
Then I went to Bennet College for an exchange program that NYU participated in with Black Historical Colleges. I then interned at a radio station in Greensboro, NC. After that I came back to NY, then received another internship at Hot 97 FM. From there I worked my way up to the top. I started as a phone operator for the DJ’s & the on-air personalities, then became the board-operator for both Kiss FM & Hot 97. From there I eventually became assistant producer for the “Isaac Hayes & Friends” radio show on 98.7 Kiss FM, and then producer for the “Vy Higgison Show”. After that I became production director for Kiss FM.
Then I moved on to producing the weekend shows on Hot 97 such as “Street Soldiers”, Funkmaster Flex on Saturday only, Mr Magic and Mr Cee, K7, Monie Love, Miss Jones, “Future Flavas with Marly Marl”, “On the Reggae Tip” with Bobby Konders and Jaba, etc. On occasion I also worked in the engineering department. My resume is crazy. Somewhere down the line I had a radio-shift with Long Island Party 105, and a few years later I received a job at Jamz 96.3 in Albany NY on Sunday afternoon, while still working with Hot97 and 98.7 Kiss FM.
Tommy Gunz: Wow, you put in some serious work right there.
Lil Nat: (laughs) Yup!
Q: So fast-foward to last year, before the move to Kiss FM you used to have your show on Hot 97 FM. What caused the switch?
A: Well, Ebro (the Hot 97 Program Director) always felt I should think about my future in radio and wanted to steer me towards doing more than just Hip Hop. So when (Radio Personality) Talent decided to leave the 98.7 Kiss FM overnights, Ebro felt I was ready and perfect for the job. Plus they wanted to reach a ‘younger’ audience.
Q: Dope. So let’s switch gears for a moment. Do you ever feel pressure being a female in a typically male dominated industry?
A: No, I just do me, I’m a tom-boy at heart anyway. I learn from the men in the industry.
Q: What is your advice to other females trying to get into the entertainment industry, whether music or radio?
A: This is advice they can use for life period. I always believe in yourself. Love what you do. Never give up and never listen to anyone who say you will never make it in this game if you know you have what it takes. Don’t burn bridges. No one is your friend in this business. Don’t think you can fuck your way up to the top (The men in this industry see through that. You will just play yourself.) Always have a plan A-B-C-D-E-F & G, because in this industry there are NO GUARANTEES.
Q: No doubt. So let’s talk music. Are you more of an R&B woman, or a Hip Hop head?
A: I’m a music junkie. I love all kinds of music. I listen to everything. I grew up on reggae. I came from the hip hop generation. I was a ballet dancer, tap dancer, modern dancer, African dancer, you name it, I did it. Needless to say I had to learn and be able to dance to classical music, etc.
Q: What’s the Best Part of your job?
A: Rocking with the listeners. I love talking to the people. Without them, there is no me.
Q: What’s the Worst part of the job?
A: The money right now sucks for me. But the end of the day, I love what I do.
Q: Ok, so the fellaz wanna know, Single or Taken?
A: Single. I was engaged, thank god that’s over (laughs). He was an asshole (laughs hysterically).
Q: That’s real talk. So, being in the music business, do you find it hard to date being a popular radio personality?
A: Yes, it is. I refuse to date men in the business for many reasons. And other dudes get nervous, or become groupies; and male groupies are the worst- like my ex-fiance (laughs). And to top it all off, I’m extremely busy with my career and raising my son.
Q: What’s your Advice to people trying to get in the Radio Game?
A: Don’t do it!!!! (Laughs hysterically). Just kidding. Practice your craft. Figure out what part of radio you want to work in. Everyone is not meant to be on the air. Learn everything about radio. Learn about the sales department, marketing/promotions department, traffic department, etc. There is a lot that goes into running a radio station.
Q: Many independent artists complain that its hard to get their music played on the radio. What your advice on them getting air-play?
A: You have to make mainstream/ popular music. You can still do your underground shit, however make it appealing to a bigger audience. Do a verse on some R&B stuff and pop stuff.
Q: How has the experience been working with 2 of the biggest, most respected radio stations in the Tri-State ?
A: It’s been a lot of hard work but fun. I met a lot of great, respectable people. I have met and interviewed some of the best artists and still looking forward to meeting more. I have learned so much working at 98.7 Kiss FM and Hot 97. I have sooooo many mentors. (laughs) You can’t get better than that.
Q: How has the internet and internet radio affected the “terrestrial radio stations such as Hot 97 or Kiss FM ?? How has it affected your show personally?
A: It doesn’t. Technology affects everything but mainstream radio has so much to offer, and at the end of the day every artist who wants to make it wants to be on mainstream radio; that’s when you know you have made it as an artist or dj or even an on-air personality. Plus mainstream radio is the closest the fans can get to be able to talk to celebrities and win prizes.
Q: Who are you personally feeling, musically? Who’s is Lil Nats CD player?
A: As far as new artists I like Katie Perry, Lady Gaga, & Ke$ha. I also love Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Mary J, Trey Songs, Tank, Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, Maino, Drake, Wacka Flaka, Mavado, Serani, the list goes on and on and on; oh and you can’t forget Jadakiss, Styles P, Busta, & Chris Brown. (Laughs) I told you (the list) never stops. (Laughs some more).
Q: You also have a very popular cooking show as well. Tell us more about it. Where and when can people watch it?
A: My cooking show is called “On The Back Burner”, check it out on 987kissfmm.com and Hot97.com/lilnat for now. It’s a cooking show where your favorite artist cook their favorite food, and I interview them at the same time. It is a very cool show. The artists have fun and you get to learn something personal about them, and learn how to cook at the same time.
Q: Ok, so I heard a rumor you got some skills in the kitchen. What is your best dish? Where did you get your cooking skills from?
A: I do (got some skills). I love to cook. It’s my hobby. I can cook anything. Just give me the recipe and I’ll make it happen. I learned from watching my mom and my godmother cook since I was 10-years-old. Now I’m teaching my son how to cook. He loves it.
Q: What other current projects you are working on?
A: Well, I’m working on (a series of) high-school tours where I host the school talent shows, proms, etc. I also have other TV show ideas for my company NB Productions, who I partner with Lisa Scott.
Q: Where can the people contact you on twitter/ website/ etc ?
On Facebook: Natalie Barrington
Check me out on www.987KissFM.com, Lil Nat, On the Back Burner, and click on my personal page Lil Nat, Hot97.com/lilnat . I’m also involved with “Straight Stuntnin” Magazine, shout-out to DJ Kay Slay. And of course you can listen to me on 98.7 Kiss FM 12am to 5am Monday through Friday, call me at 1.800.288.5477 or text 23123. And the web page is on the way.
Q: Do you have any other shout-outs??
A: Shout-out to you for giving me this opportunity. My shout-out list will be way too long (laughs). Love you guys. Don’t forget to tune in 98.7 Kiss FM Monday through Friday 12am to 5am, check out ya girl Lil Nat aka the “Overnight Queen” in the house.