Today, TT Torrez may appear to be leading the life of every communications major’s dreams, but the Hot 97 on-air personality and music director’s success is the result of perseverance in the face of adversity and self-assurance when those in power attempted to steer her away from her intended path.
During a recent sit-down with Madame Noire’s “In This Room,” the Bronx native discussed her new book, Trials to Triumph and some of the heartbreaking obstacles she faced while coming up in radio — including programming directors trying to mold her to be the next Jonesie or Angie Martinez.
“When I first got into the radio game, I had so many program directors that would say, ‘Oh, you need to be more like Angie Martinez. You’re Spanish, she’s Spanish. You’re from New York, she’s from New York,” Torrez confessed. “You try to pattern yourself like these people that the higher-ups try to make you become, but then you’re like, that ain’t me. I’m not her. She’s special. That’s what makes her special. I wanna be me.”
While we all have people whom we admire and aspire to be like, Torrez advised that being confident in who you are as an individual and a professional takes time, development, and an understanding of what makes you unique.
“Once I understood who I was, I was able to walk into a radio station and negotiate upfront,” shared the media personality. “I wasn’t afraid of that. I wasn’t afraid of speaking up for myself. I wasn’t afraid of saying, ‘No, I’m not changing my name again.'”
Of course, Torrez’s path to success is paved with more than clarifying moments of self-actualization. She also experienced some heartbreaking valley experiences — like being fired over the phone.
“I have been fired from jobs I was really devastated over. My first job I got in radio was doing mid-days,” she reflected. “I was producing the ‘Russ Parr Morning Show’. One day, the owner of the company, Concord Media, after my shift they said ‘Can you come into the office?’ The owner of the company fired me over the phone. He didn’t even have the audacity to come in and tell me I was fired.”
Naturally, this sent the radio host — who was only making $21,000 a year at the time — into a spiral of despair.
“I remember crying like ‘What am I going to do? How am I going to pay my rent?”
Thankfully, Russ Parr, who had become a mentor of sorts to Torrez, reminded her that success in radio was virtually impossible without getting fired a few times. In addition to offering encouraging words, he put her in touch with the right people who would connect her with other opportunities in radio.
“What carries me is the need to succeed,” said Torrez. “That burning fire not to fail.”
Watch TT’s full interview and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.