Wendy Williams, AS ’86, started her successful broadcast career on the airwaves of WRBB 104.9 FM. From newsreader to a host of one of WRBB’s most historically successful programs, “Soul’s Place,” Wendy made the most of her time at Northeastern by being a part of the WRBB community.
WRBB’s Dan Lim, Board Member for History and Alumni Relations, jumped on a call with Wendy to talk about the very beginnings of her career at Northeastern and WRBB.
How did you get involved at WRBB 104.9 FM when you got to Northeastern?
I got involved my freshman year first semester. I left for Boston and for Northeastern knowing that I wanted to either be a newscaster or radio personality, but didn’t know which one. So, when it came time for me to get involved in something, I didn’t want to be a sorority girl — I didn’t want to do anything but get involved with the radio station. And I went in, they put me on as a newscaster, as a matter of fact. When it was my turn and the DJ that was on at the time said, “at the top of the hour, here’s Wendy with the news,” I tumbled my chair on the floor, purposefully, crawled out of the room on my forearms, and cried like a baby. First time I ever cracked a mic and I was stupid at it!
How did you get from newscaster to host for one of WRBB’s most coveted shows, “Soul’s Place?”
One day, I was sitting [in the station] writing up my news story, and the DJ that was supposed to be there didn’t show up. The Program Director, who was also a student like me, put me on! I found it more wonderful to be fun and free-flowing than be tight with a script for news. I never did mid-days, I never did a morning show, I never did afternoons — I went from news to “Soul’s Place.” Back then, it was very difficult because, on campus, you always had people who graduate (sic) but still wanted to be involved in organizations. We had a lot of graduates who were still holding spots on the radio.
So, there was even more competition than just the student body?
Right, unless you speak up, and I spoke up. I said, “look, my parents pay a fortune for me to be here. I am a legit student. I legit want to do this radio thing, and you’re legit graduates — beat it!” And I took it higher — I recall going to Dean Motley and talking to him about it and complaining.
What was the Dean Motley’s reaction?
“You’re right!” Legit students are sitting around, watching these old heads take our spots. I also got a very good internship, that I had to get on my own.
How did your experience at WRBB and “Soul’s Place” jumpstart your first internship at KISS-108’s Morning Show with Matty Siegel?
I was already on the radio. I already knew that an internship, a solid one, would be very important. At that time, I had no advisors on what to do next. The radio station was competitive enough. I mean, I love them all, it was my gang if you will, that was my club, that was my thing — but within every gang, people are very competitive with one another. So, what I found out is that there was internships available at KISS-108. Unfortunately, a lot of people at that time were just looking to intern or work at WILD. My name was Golden Girl because I used to bake very crispy in the sun. By the time I was awarded “Soul’s Place,” I had just come back from Daytona Beach on a vacation and I was definitely crispy. I said, “I’m going with Golden Girl” cause I was thinking, if you’re gonna be a DJ, you gotta have one of those cool names! I got my own internship at “Matty [in the Morning]” and they liked me so much. Sunny Joe White — rest in peace — the Program Director at the time liked me enough that when the internship was over after a semester, I asked, “can I stay? Just one more, please?” and he said yes. Even though I didn’t get points or credit for the extra three months, it was so worthwhile. I spent more time at KISS and WRBB, honestly, than I did in classrooms. The classroom was kinda boring to me. With WRBB, even when you didn’t have a shift, you would just go up there and chill — see what people are doing and keep your ears open.
How did WRBB affect your college career as a whole?
It made it wonderful because I got involved with something that I thought, back at that time, would serve me better in the future than hanging out with a bunch of people at parties, or even being a sorority girl. I got involved with something that would be germane to my future if I just focused.
…and we all know how that turned out.
Another huge thank you to Wendy and her team for coordinating time to speak to us.
As a part of the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, Wendy Williams will be making her way back to Northeastern and WRBB next week. Click here to register for An Evening with Wendy Williams in Blackman Auditorium (Ell Hall) on Saturday, November 10th at 7:30pm to hear Wendy discuss more about her life and successes in the entertainment industry.
Interested in more events? Click here to view the weeklong schedule of events with more alumni, faculty, staff, guests, and students of Northeastern and the John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute.
Watch Wendy’s Invite!