DeDe McGuire’s career trajectory is an inspiring story that spans decades. Best known for her nationally syndicated radio show “DeDe in the Morning,” McGuire has become one of the leading voices in American radio. McGuire is also recognized for her philanthropic work in the community, and she is specifically renowned for her efforts to promote education and provide resources to underserved youth. With her engaging personality and commitment to service, McGuire has become a beloved figure in the world of radio and beyond. 21Ninety recently spoke to McGuire about her career journey and everything she has learned along the way.
Breaking Into Radio
21Ninety: How did you get into broadcasting?
DeDe McGuire: I went to college, majoring in Journalism with the hopes of becoming a big-time TV News Anchor. Money was tight, and my financial aid hadn’t made it to the school in time, so I was kicked out! I had to enroll in the local community college in my hometown of Killeen/Ft. Hood, Texas. While attending our local community college, awaiting financial aid help, I began working at a small Country Music radio station. I was the receptionist, was well-liked by the on-air staff, and was always used as a background voice for several DJs at the station. One day the owner’s wife heard and suggested they train me for an on-air position. I made an audition tape and took it to the R&B/Hip Hop station, and they hired me on the spot with no training! Talk about a Blessing! I stayed at the station one year, then went on to San Antonio, Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York (I was Co-Host of the Nationally Syndicated “Doug Banks Morning Show,” heard daily on WBLS New York.
21N: How do you prepare for every show?
DM: I sleep! My alarm goes off at 3:30 am, so clubbing and partying is out for me. I’m usually in bed by 10 pm because I prepare the day before. All day I check all the blogs and news sites, and I watch the evening news, morning news, CNN, the trending shows on Netflix. Show prep is nonstop with me. If I’m at a game, party, church, or wherever I am, I am mentally and physically taking note of what is funny, what someone did, who fell on who, and what he had on while he was falling. My life is show prep!
21N: What makes a show successful?
DM: Chemistry is number one! Chemistry is about the ease of conversation with someone, the vibe the room adopts, and knowing when a person is about to zig, so you zag. To have a successful show, all cast members must be authentic, personable, have a sense of humor and sense of self, and be knowledgeable in a certain area. You must also build trust with your audience. Some of what makes a successful show comes with time.
21N: How do you connect with your audience?
DM: I engage every day. We are a heavy listener caller morning show, and the bosses figured out long ago that I am at my best engaging and talking with our listeners. Our show is built around contests and lots of caller interactions. I also engage through social media and appearances.
Challenges and Advice
21N: What is the most challenging part of your career?
DM: Getting up every morning at 3:30 am! Lol! Seriously, it would probably be navigating the egos of men, as well as having the bar raised higher for me in regards to garnering respect. When I say respect, I am referencing junior staff members and senior staff members as well. The milestones I’ve hit in my career would have been celebrated more loudly and clearly than they have been up to this point. My show is one the fastest-growing nationally syndicated radio shows, and we have some of the most talented cast members assembled. National Comedian JJ Williamson—who’s on tour nationally with the Royal Comedy Tour — Tik Toker/Podcast Star Kita Rose, radio veteran and television personality J Kruz along with local radio star Tre G, Breeze, and Gary Saunders. My challenge now is to get the word out about our show because my team deserves the recognition for their hard work every day.
21N: Would you change anything about your career path?
DM: No. I wouldn’t change anything. I turned down many jobs that others took that didn’t amount to much. I listened to my gut and trusted it. My mother used to always say, “never have any regrets.” I try not to dwell on what could have been and focus on what is meant to happen.
21N: What advice would you give to someone?
DM: Work is not scary. So many people today want things easy. Many do not want to encounter the ups and downs of the pathway to success. They don’t know that it builds character and life lessons, so I would say study the business, ask questions, get a mentor in the game, practice, and be your authentic self. I would tell them to start a podcast, apply for that job in a small town and work your way up. Never be afraid to take one step backward to take two or more forward.
Moments to Remember
21N: What is your most memorable moment on air?
DM: Going to the White House to talk with President Barack Obama was my most memorable moment. Taking my mother to the White House Christmas party and having the opportunity to meet both the President and First Lady was very memorable. Another memorable moment was when I got the giggles and couldn’t stop laughing for an hour. The final moment was when we interviewed Oprah. I remember being in the middle of an interview with Oprah, and we heard another phone ringing, and she casually leaned back from the phone and yelled, “Stedman, can you see who that is?” I remember thinking, “she’s just as regular as you and me.” It was such a memorable moment!
This article has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.