Traci Cloyd works double duty. To HOT 105 FM listeners, she is a bright, effervescent, and straight-talking radio personality who adds local flavor to the Tom Joyner syndicated morning program. However she's also adept at working behind the scenes as the station's news director, which literally puts her on call 24 hours 7 days a week.
A local media veteran with more than 20 years of experience in the South Florida market, Traci's built an impressive resume that includes on-air interviews with numerous celebs of every stripe and distinction, among them Rosie O'Donnell, Denzel Washington, Dr. Robert Atkins, even President Bill Clinton, and then-Presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. This time around, New Times turned the tables and put her on the receiving end of some Qs and As.
New Times: How did you get started in the biz? What was your first gig? Where did you work previously? Did you always want to work in radio?
Traci Cloyd: My radio career essentially started on a whim, with a fortuitous conversation. In retrospect, it's difficult to believe I never considered working in the medium. I got started in the business with an internship at WSVN, which was an NBC affiliate at the time. Before I started anchoring at HOT 105, I worked at CBS4. I was working as a television news writer, working on an 11 p.m. newscast, when one of our reporters suggested I apply for a position as a radio news anchor at HOT 105. The conversation went something like this: "Hey, they're looking for an anchor at HOT 105... Why don't you give them a call?" So I scheduled an appointment with the news director.
I had plenty of tapes to audition for TV jobs, not a single one for radio. The news director handed me some copy, asked me to go into a studio and make a demo. I asked her to let me produce the newscast and demo. I made the tape, thanked her and left. By the time I got home, there was already a voicemail asking me to come back for a second interview with her boss. I went back the next day and I was hired on the spot. It's a great blessing!
Who was the coolest celebrity you've ever met?
You'd think that would be an easy question. Could I 'break it down' into categories?
Athlete: Muhamad Ali. His legacy speaks for itself. When I interviewed him, he was already dealing with the challenge of Parkinson's disease. I was so appreciative of how hard he worked to make himself understood -- and how patient he was when I was forced to ask him to repeat himself so I could understand him.
Artist: Mary J. Blige. She was the antithesis of the diva stories I've heard about her. She was humble -- forthright about her love of the Lord; soft-spoken, open, honest, and funny. Right after the interview I went out and bought her CD.
Person: First Lady Michelle Obama. Before the interview her handlers put me "on notice" with a list of restrictions. Once I sat down with her, she was open to all questions. About a month later, I saw her at an event, she remembered me and came over to say hello. How cool is that?
How do you go about providing local content during a nationally syndicated program like the Tom Joyner Morning Show?
As a news provider during the show, there is the extra benefit of what's called in the industry "super serving" our listeners -- providing not only traditional coverage, but also stories and information of particular interest to the black community. We're proud of not only keeping our community up to the minute with breaking news, but also providing a daily compendium of stories our listeners almost certainly won't get in a single place anywhere else. It's an exceptional opportunity and comes with an extraordinary responsibility.
What do you enjoy most about your job? What do you enjoy least?
The thing I like the least is being out of sync with most of the workforce. My day begins at 3:30 a.m. The thing I enjoy most is the chance to be creative. Unlike television, you're not confined to pictures so you're afforded the opportunity to be more creative when it comes to storytelling. I also enjoy the performance aspect; in some ways it's a theatrical presentation in a reality based medium. It's a privilege to be able to share with our community the good, the bad, and the ugly. It's like being a new millennium version of the town crier.
What would you be doing if you weren't in radio?
If I wasn't in radio, every day I would sleep in until, say 5 a.m... Oh, you meant professionally, right? I would be working in visual merchandising, or writing copy at an advertising agency or dressing sets for theatre, TV, and film.
With the ever evolving technology, especially in the era of mass communications, why do you think radio continues to be so resilient? And why do you think people are still so interested in listening to radio?
In the era of mass communications, right now radio is still mostly free, so the economics explain part of the resiliency. On an emotional level though, radio provides a community. People literally feel connected. I also think radio continues to thrive in the era of mass communication because it allows listeners to use their imaginations. At HOT 105, a great number of the personalities have been on the air for many years. The longevity has created a bond; listeners feel they know us and conversely that we know them. I think people are still so interested in radio because it's a respite -- HOT 105 is a place where they know they will be inspired, uplifted, educated, and entertained.
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