By Oba Lorrius
Talus Knight is the Program Director and Operations Manager for Cumulus Broadcasting New Orleans. This candid conversation with Talus was not only refreshing and enlightening but it also gave us an in-depth look into New Orleans Hip-Hop Radio Culture and the pulses of being an artist in the Big Easy.
Q) What is one of your favorite perks about working in radio.
A) What I love about radio is that we can be more clandestine. Moving in a crowd in the stealth. Being in the public ear instead of the public eye. TV had too many constraints to creativity than radio. Radio personalities have the opportunity to be more creative.
Q) What is a finished product?
A) Artists that have digital assets up, on all the platforms. I ask artists if they have a SoundCloud not only to see where they’re at but to also see if I can get some analytics going. I want to see who is listening to you, and maybe some comments. I’m trying to get a gauge of who you are as an artist and are you trending of if you’re on the cusp. We just can’t take your word for it. In 1996 you could’ve gotten away with that but today I have Shazzam numbers coming in every Monday that I get to look at by zip code, Neilson stats from physical sales, and the analytics on all platforms. I’m seeing who the people in New Orleans are listening to and downloading.
Talus Knight Book List: The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman
Q) Is it harder or easier these days for an artist to create a name for themselves?
A) This is the golden age of getting your work out there. There are so many platforms. Back in the day, a chick from Singapore wouldn’t be hitting you up telling you your song is fire. She wouldn’t know who the f@&$ you are, but now you don’t know, you might be poppin in Moscow before the 7th Ward.
Q) What social issues are you passionate about addressing?
A) Reading comprehension and digital literacy. I read a lot and I see what’s going on state-wide not just here in New Orleans with the kids, and I would like to shine a spotlight on that and do workshops for kids that may be behind. We want them to know that just because you behind don’t mean you can’t catch up. I think what happens is that kids get too further along in the system and already they’ve tuned out. I hate that one size fits all public-school system. I learned in a different manner and I didn’t learn that till I went to college. I’m interested in digital literacy and awareness. A lot of kids don’t have access to Wi-Fi and a lot of these platforms that are sold. Kids in the suburbs have iPads and all kinds of devices that inspire kids. I see why certain kids don’t get interested in certain things; it’s because they’re not exposed to it and let’s be honest, this is the future and you’re going to have to be digitally literate.
“Artists you got to take control of your own destiny…beat the concrete up…talk to every DJ, and you compliment that hustle with the art of digital.” –Talus Knight
Q) Any words of wisdom for New Orleans youth?
A) Life is a marathon. They’re ruts but there’s no such thing as staying in a rut. They’re peaks and valleys but be patient when you’re in that valley trying to get up that hill. Just know that nothing lasts forever.
Q) You’ve been successful in five major cities, what makes radio life in New Orleans different?
A) In the news media Black people are treated as one monolith and what I’ve noticed traveling and having to immerse myself in the Black culture of that City, I noticed that Black people in Cleveland aren’t the same as Black people from Richmond, Virginia. Black people from Richmond, Virginia are not the same as an hour and a half north in DC and North Carolina is not like Georgia. It’s beautiful to see. Your surroundings do mold you and even though we are one we are different and special. Fast forward here, New Orleans has so many layers. I’ve been to so many rapid cities where it’s about who’s got the best car or what kind of job you’ve got. In New Orleans some of that is in the mix, but there’s so much more. They’re all kinds of music, take your pick, pick your poison. Speaking of poison, y’all like to drink and that attracts a lot of musical people. New Orleans is the perfect incubator for what you see, arts and music because it’s so wide open. I like the feel that it has, it feels like the wild-wild west creatively down here.