Voice Of Power: Angie Martinez On Making Bold Moves

Angie Martinez was not just given her “The Voice Of New York” title – she earned it with a career that spans nearly two decades. Though bred by New York City’s Hot 97, a trek from her native Brooklyn to Miami at 16 years old lit the spark that would ignite her radio reign. Fast forward, and the now wife and mother’s name is synonymous with hip-hop radio. From shocking the country with her switch to Power 105.1, to a spur-of-the-moment decision to run a marathon, the staple personality knows a thing or two about fearless moves.

“If the only thing stopping you is fear then erase it, forget about it.” That’s her recommendation for taking on the unknown.

Transforming an adolescent gig into a notable contribution that will litter the history books of the culture, Martinez serves as an inspiration, but is also no stranger to figuring things out as she goes along. Continuing to evolve as an author (Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed) and businesswoman (as a recent signee to Roc Nation), the maven is now looking to make new waves on and off the air. – Iyana Robertson with additional reporting from Adelle Platon

When I knew radio was what I wanted to pursue as a career:
I was 16 and I was getting kicked out of my high school in Brooklyn. And so my mother sent me to go stay with my aunt in Miami. So I was like 16 when I moved out there and then my mother came right after me and she got a job at Power 96, so I started interning there. And then when I was 18, I moved back home and I was at Hot [97.1 FM] ever since I started my internship there at 18 years-old, and I literally grew up in radio. I just felt at home, I felt passionate about it. I didn’t know enough at that age to think: ‘this is what I want [for] my career and this is how I want it to go.’ I just knew I loved it.

The do’s and don’ts of interning:
What do you want to do? What are you good at? What do you want to get out of this experience? You should be able to answer those three questions when starting an internship.

And make yourself standout; if there are 10 interns that come in through a semester, then there are ten interns gone at the end of the semester.

What makes you stand out? What makes somebody want to keep you around or hire you part-time or remember you when you come back two years later applying for a job? You have to go above and beyond. It’s your moment, it’s like an audition you can learn something, but it’s also an audition for people to get to know who you are. And what your value can be; so you have to treat it as such. If you just kind of go in and just sit there, it’s a waste of everyone’s time.

What I learned from my mother, who was also in the radio business:
My mother has been retired from this business for sometime. My mother was in Jazz music, she programmed Jazz stations and “World Music” she did at Sirius for a while. So the manner in which we are in the business is a little different, but I did learn a lot of things from her; just about how to handle yourself; conduct yourself.

She was a program director and I remember being a kid and her coming home talking about the DJ’s, and saying that a pet-peeve of hers was that she hated when jocks sounded like they loved the sound of their own voice too much and I’ve always remembered that, even now.

How I continue to learn about myself:
I learn stuff about myself all the time. I learn stuff about myself doing this job. I learn stuff about myself running that damn marathon. I learned about myself doing this book. You learn what you’re capable of. You learn to trust your gut. This is something that was like a gut idea; that I really wanted to do.

About that one time I ran a marathon…
Three weeks before the marathon, I had pulled something in my leg, so I hadn’t ran for three weeks before the marathon. So I just showed up that day. I really had no business being there.

But we raised all this money and I knew that I was inspiring people by doing it, just from the reaction that I was getting. I felt almost an obligation at this point to run it. I had a blog. We raised all this money, my team raised like $200,000 dollars, and so I had no choice. So I showed up that day at the marathon. I was telling the story there that I just thought about it like a woman having a baby.

Like if you’re pregnant and it hurts, it doesn’t matter. The baby has to still come out, when you’re in delivery the baby has to come out. You can’t be like: ‘it hurts too much, I don’t want to do this anymore.’ There’s no option. The night before I had that thought. I slept on that thought, I woke up with that thought and I showed up at the marathon with that thought of: ‘I had a baby.’

My new stress-relieving strategy:
When I was younger I would never like to go to the movies by myself or go to dinner by myself. I always felt weird, but the past two years, I’ve taken like a three-four day long weekend vacation, and gone somewhere with me and books and nothing else. And I’ve desperately tried to not have my phone on. I desperately tried to go somewhere that is like a spa resort or a yoga place or somewhere where I turn off for three or four days just to turn my brain off.

My advice on knowing when it’s time for a career change:
I knew it was time for a career change when I was just showing up, and looking for more. I just think [it’s time for a change] when you’re not satisfied and you’re yearning to see new things, learn new things, and see things from a new perspective. Everybody feels like that every now and then, but if you feel like that all the time, it’s time to really assess where you are and what you’re doing and if you’re being fulfilled there.

Also, I think that people being somewhere for so long tend to get a little institutionalized almost, and you only know how to do something one way. That alone should make you want to break out and do something else just so you can have something to compare it to. Just so you can broaden your skill set.

Even though I’ve done it and I was somewhere for so long; I think you should have change; change breeds evolution.

The definition of a boss:
Somebody that is in control of what they do and is confident about that, and can also motivate and manage people around her to help feel like a cohesive mission. I don’t think you’re a boss until you really know what you’re about. Until you know what your mission is in life. Until you know what you’re working towards.

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Photo Credit: Jason Chandler