Think about the first time that you heard a female presence on a radio mix show in NYC. Maybe that presence was the voice of Dee Vazquez? Co-hosting a mix show alongside DJ Kay Slay on HOT 97 and Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Dee is so much more than just a voice to listen to on the radio. Young, passionate, creative, motivated and active are just a few words to describe her.
A native New Yorker, Dee was raised in the melting pot of Queens. You can call Dee “self-made”. In her early days with no training and just a passion for music, she ventured into producing a show on New York public access TV; learning things like how to speak on-air and transitioning to commercials by studying veterans like Oprah and Diane Sawyer. Back when Hot 97 was only known as 97.1 FM, Dee found further inspiration from personality Angie Martinez, a Puerto-Rican woman from New York, who shared a similar background and was on the radio. 97.1 FM always impressed her with the way they made broadcasts sound like a casual conversation amongst friends. Coincidently, that’s the same station she is on today.
In the hip Chelsea Market, we had the opportunity to dig a little deeper and learn more about Dee.
HMM: Do you give back to the community?
Dee: I started off talking to prisoners at prisons as well as a prison column in Straight Stuntin magazine. I started Women on the Move with Amber Ravenel, it’ll be 6 years in March. We go to different colleges and create panels of women in different careers and talk about their path to success. We’ve also done it at shelters and High Schools and Junior High Schools.
HMM: If you had to give advice to a young woman coming up in your field, what would you tell her?
Dee: Educate yourself on whatever profession you want to pursue. Have enough respect for yourself that you have respect for your atmosphere. Always be prepared, and if you are asking “Am I prepared”, then you’re not prepared. You have to be over prepared. Also, don’t take things personally!
HMM: Did you face any adversity as a woman when you were starting out?
Dee: In the beginning, yes. As part of a mix show, people would ask “what is she doing here”. It changed after a while when they saw I knew who they were, that I did my research and I respected them as an artist, in return I got their respect. I think with anything, once you respect the situation, then naturally it will come.
HMM: Which do you prefer, TV or radio?
Dee: I Love TV. You get to have your hair and makeup done. Most importantly when you are speaking on TV, you can get hints of what I feel about what I am saying through facial expressions and gestures. On radio, if you flub and try to re-explain, it sounds crazy and you are live with only a short amount of time, whereas on TV you can do re-takes to make things perfect.
HMM: Name some peers that you admire.
Dee: I really like Amanda Diva, she does it because it’s her love and passion. She’s a true artist and fearless. Touré because he pushes people’s perception of a black man. He’s educated and opinionated and can carry a thought and push it. Also, Angie Martinez- she has created a lane of her own and branded herself so well, before the term branding was even being thrown around. She has great relationships in the industry, which isn’t the easiest thing to do.
HMM: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Dee: More comfortable with taking the lead because I haven’t always been so comfortable doing that, and definitely working as a producer. I’m working on a documentary now about a colleague who passed away while pursuing a dream of being a rapper, promoter, and renaissance man. His name is Sano; he was so focused and obsessed with success, and then he passed away in a car crash. I for people to know who he was, how passionate and focused he was and to make sure that his story does not go untold. It’s for the next person to acknowledge and make sure his story is told. If I can get it in to some film festivals that’s my dream for it.
HMM: Are you taking steps back to get to the place where are grinding hard and loving what you do?
Dee: Yes, figuring out who I want to be now. I learned early on that we become the people we are by mimicking others. I have different people that inspire me and different people that I look to for inspiration in my life. I’m taking steps backward to propel forward later.
HMM: What’s your favorite type of music?
Dee: As I am getting older, give me Tribe [Called Quest], give me Tupac. The 90’s era, I’m in love with. Also, Top 10 Merengue, Bachata, Jazz, Classic Rock. I just saw Mark Anthony in concert and was going crazy!
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