Angie Martinez Says Leaving Hot 97 Wasn’t That Tough
Angie Martinez, one of the major voices in New York radio over the past two decades, shook up the radio world last month when she announced she was leaving her longtime home, Hot 97, and heading to rival station Power 105. Immediately after announcing the move, Martinez went on vacation and returned to the airwaves last Thursday, where on her inaugural show with Power she welcomed Swizz Beatz, Alicia Keys, Diddy and Jay Z, among others, all who called in to express their congratulations to the DJ.
Before her new gig is even a week old, XXL spoke to Angie Martinez about the transition from leaving Hot to join Power, some of her favorite interviews on her old radio show and what she wants to accomplish at her new station. The radio may not be ready for what she's got in store. —Dan Rys
XXL: Congrats on the move.
Angie Martinez: Thanks, man, I'm excited. It's been one big crazy whirlwind.
You started off with a bang with Jay the first day, Remy Ma yesterday...
Yeah, Remy was yesterday. The first day we had Jay and Swizz and Alicia, and Puff. We had a great first day. It's so weird, because we had all these amazing people call, but the blogs and stuff, everybody loves Jay, so that's the one that stands out. [Laughs]
How did it feel to get that kind of support?
It felt awful. It felt shitty. [Laughs] It was amazing. It's crazy, because people just assume things, like that's supposed to happen, but I never take that for granted. I'm always humbled when I get support like that. And yeah, it felt great. It made me feel like I'm doing the right thing, I'm on the right path. I made the right decision.
Was there one single factor that made you want to make the switch from Hot 97 to Power 105?
I think, mainly, I felt like it was time for me to have some growth, you know? Once I came to terms with that, that was my initial thought: it's time for me to challenge myself and grow. So then once I started looking around at what my options are and started looking at what was happening in the market and radio in general, after that it becomes easy. Once you come to the decision that you need something to change, or you need to push yourself or shake things up a little bit, then it's just about finding the right opportunity, finding the right thing, you know?
So that was it; that was the moment of thinking, "Okay, I'm ready to challenge myself in a different way. I'm ready to shake things up." And then once I did that, it wasn't really that hard. The company is huge, and there's so much opportunity there that the decision's really not that tough when you look at it, you know what I mean?
With all those opportunities, what's the challenge you're looking forward to the most?
Well it's like starting from scratch, you know what I'm saying? It's literally starting from scratch. It's the opportunity to create a whole new show in a whole new place with a whole new team, and the challenge of also growing into new markets to make that work. I start in Miami this coming Monday, and that after that hopefully in the next couple months will be expanding into different markets, and that's something I've ever done. It's not something that's necessarily gonna be easy. But I look forward to that. I look forward to that challenge.
What are some of your favorite interviews that you've done over the years?
That's such a hard question. [Laughs] Oh God, there's just so many great ones. Clearly, Jay and I have had some amazing ones. I also like when some of the new artists come up. I loved when A$AP Rocky came and I surprised him with Rakim. That was one of my favorite ones; there were so many things about it that I loved. His genuine excitement; Rakim is one of my favorites of all time, and having him be there, he's just so dope. How he carries himself, he's such a G. And the love that [Rakim] showed [Rocky], it was just dope to me on so many levels. To have them both in the room at the same time and be able to surprise them, it was dope. That was really cool. Then Rocky's mother called, and she's screaming on the phone. [Laughs] There were just so many cool parts to that day; that was a great one for me.
Was there an interview that was a turning point for you? Made you think differently about the job?
I think all the time that would happen. I refer to the Tupac interview a lot, because I was young. That was the first big interview that I had that made me feel like I could actually make a difference to something, be a piece of something. But all the time. I'm giving people an opportunity to tell their stories. That's how I look at interviews: it's an opportunity to have people tell their story of who they are, or introduce themselves in a new way, or give the listeners a chance to get involved in what they're offering. So you always help people to do that, to present themselves and what they're putting out into the game.
Are there any rappers that have become friends now?
Yeah, a ton of them. Too many to probably say right now, I've been in this business since I was 18 years old. [Laughs] So I have absolutely developed a lot of relationships, especially with... Well, I wouldn't even say just the New York artists. Some of the New York artists, you know, they started here and they kind of came up with me, which was cool. But you know, I have a great relationship with T.I., I have a great relationship with Jeezy, of course Khaled, Ross. There's definitely a lot of them, yeah.
Has that ever made it difficult for you when you've had to ask the tough questions as an interviewer?
No, not really. Because the truth is, when they come in to be interviewed, they know what's gonna happen. And also, I'm not here to hurt anybody. But you know, if you come to the radio to be interviewed and you have something major going on that everybody wants to know about, then you gotta know that that's gonna happen, that I'm gonna ask you about it. As long as I'm fair, I think that they have to respect that. That's the best that you can hope for, that you can be fair and honest with people, and then let the interview just be as natural as it can be.
Is there one moment that you can look back on as your fondest moment from Hot 97?
There's so many. Honestly, the thing that I take away most is the friendships and the relationships that I made there. I say this all the time, but I have friends there that will be my friends forever, no matter where I work. You know, when you go through that much with people and you work with people that long, a lot of times you develop those kinds of friendships, and I definitely have. I mean, me and Flex will be friends forever, you know what I'm saying? That's just it. That's the bottom line, no matter where I work. And to me, that was one of the best things about my time there.
What's the biggest change in your show at Power from your show at Hot?
I can't even say yet, 'cause it's still too soon to tell. I'm literally starting from scratch, so I do know that I want a lot more listener involvement than my show before; that's really the only thing I know going in, but I think it's really going to develop into something else. I'm looking at it as a clean slate. So my show how it is today when I go on, it might sound different next month. I literally just jumped on the air; I got back from vacation Wednesday, I was on the air Thursday. I had no name for my Mix Show. [Laughs] I did know that I didn't want to have just one DJ, I wanted to have multiple DJs and rotate the best ones so it always felt fresh, and always was exciting. You know, I can give opportunity to people that are in town. There're dope DJs all over the country that are always visiting New York. Hopefully I'll be able to showcase some of them on the radio in a prime time slot. And that's dope to me. That excites me.
So I knew I wanted to do the Mix Show like that, but I still don't have a name for it. So I'm still in the process of development. [Laughs] This is still a work in progress. I want it to be organic. I don't want it to be forced. I just want to let it happen organically, let the show develop, and I'm really trying to just start with a clean slate and let that happen. I'm looking it at like hitting the reset button; you can't just build a whole show in a day. It's gonna develop into what it's gonna be. You know what I mean?