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‘What is a Grind Opp?,’ you ask? It is a job opportunity. A help wanted ad.
Internet radio host Leonora Martelly
ups her game with the Radio Connection
By the time Leonora Martelly who goes by the radio moniker “Lelo” found the Radio Connection, she was already a fledgling pro, climbing the rungs toward broadcaster success as the co-host and producer of an Internet radio show she started with a friend in New York City. Lelo describes the show’s simple beginnings: “Me and my co-host, we started hanging out a lot,” she says, “and my brother said, ‘You guys are so funny, you should start a show.’” That was the seed of what eventually became “The Penthouse Suite” that the duo created from scratch and launched on SoundCast Fm. From there they went on to audition and earn a place on the popular NYC internet radio station, Droppin The Flava: “DTF” Radio. The weekly Internet show stars Lelo, co-host Jessie Rae and DJ Exeqtive. “It’s kind of like, you know when you go in an elevator, the very top floor is the penthouse,” Lelo explains. “And it’s like an elegant space, you feel like a woman, you feel free. So what we do is we run like the mouthpiece of our generation, we feel like there’s not a lot of people that can speak from our perspective…We speak about everything. We speak about religion, we speak about politics, we speak about our culture, what’s going on in our community. We’ve had a variety of guests, ranging from people on VH1, MTV, up-and coming-artists, we want to shine a light on other entrepreneurs that are doing great things in the community.” So why would someone who was already forging a career as a radio personality want to attend the Radio Connection as an apprentice? To hear Lelo tell it, she felt the need to up her game. “Originally I was looking into a master’s program,” she says, “but…I’ve learned that a lot of the time, hands-on experience works better in the field than sitting behind a desk…I like the fact that it’s real-time, hands-on experience, and that you have a mentor which is a connection to someone who’s actually in the industry. It’s not someone who is just teaching it, it’s someone who actually lived the life, experienced it, and is knowledgeable about what you need to get where you want to go.” Lelo decided to enroll in the program and was placed with Radio Connection mentor Jay Dixon, a programming consultant at Hot 97 in New York City as well as WBLS New York and KBLX in San Francisco. At their initial interview, it didn’t take long for the two to hit it off. “We started talking about my goals and my experiences,” Lelo says. “We spoke about radio, we spoke about our personalities, and we got to know each other. It was like a really warm interview, where we were able to kind of like just feed off each other, get to know each other, understand each other’s goals.” When working with Jay, Lelo says, she quickly began to see ways in which she could up her game, including building confidence with her own vocal delivery. “I have a very sultry voice,” she says, “and I feel like it doesn’t work for every type of sell or commercial…I’ve got kind of self-conscious about it. I had a conversation with Jay and he’s like, ‘There’s ways to incorporate that and keep that,’ … [to] just be myself, like learn from the masters and incorporate it, to keep my conversational skill and my energy the way that it is with my show and when I’m regularly speaking. So we’re definitely working on me building a consistent confidence with that.” Lelo says she’s learned a lot about production value, as well. “I’ve learned that I really love the production aspect of it…the creativity of it,” she says. “Putting things together is a very intricate art, and you have to pay attention to every little detail. And I like putting things together, like the sells, the commercials, the drops. I really enjoy doing that.” As Lelo finishes up her apprenticeship with Jay, she’s now able to incorporate what she’s learning into her own radio show. ‘I think that being able to meet with him and talk to him about my show and things I’ve been doing,” she says, “and then having him give me feedback and then applying it to my show, is definitely kind of buffering me up for the long run.” Born and raised in New York, Lelo is a bona fide go-getter who’s confident and determined in her career. Her advice to other students can be boiled down to three things: practice, confidence and perseverance. “I would merely say to be consistent,” she says, “and really get the best out of the program. I mean, not just doing the work when you’re having fun and getting into it, but actually going home and practicing it and applying what you learned so that it gets embedded in your memory, and it actually becomes natural. Because a lot of times people learn something, and it disappears, but you practice and it becomes a natural habit, and that’s how you improve your craft…Don’t doubt yourself, believe in yourself even when no one else does, because if they don’t see the vision, then how do you expect them to be as passionate about it as you are? So it starts with you…It’s really about being confident, understanding your natural gift and owning your vision.” Leonora is also working on expanding her presence in the written word. Also a poet, her first publication Linguistic Gravity can be found on Amazon.com. A second publication is currently in the works. Find Lelo on Instagram. Hear Lelo on The Penthouse Suite in the Apprentice Media section below!
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