All Episodes

March 14, 2023 48 mins

Over a 25 year career, Charlamagne Tha God clawed his way to the top of the radio industry. In this episode, the long-time host of The Breakfast Club tells us what it took for him — a young man suffering from anxiety, constantly in and out of jail — to become an icon of modern media.

If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our newsletter at

See for privacy information.

Mark as Played

Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. For me growing up, it was oh, oh, oh,
it's the time join the morning show because you know,
my mom was a school teacher, so we was up early, early,
so I was listening to the time join up. And
then you know, Z ninety three played such a big
role in my life because you know, their original morning

show that I remember was The Breakfast Club, Baby Jay
and Tessa Tessa Spencer. My guest today is someone I've
wanted to interview for a long time because of what
he's meant over the last decade to the culture, black culture,
hip hop culture, internet culture, youth culture, all the cultures,
you name it. But if I'm being completely honest, the

real reason I wanted to sit down and talk to
Charlotte Magne the God is to see if some of
his confidence can run off on me. Most of my career,
I've been terrified to bring my full self to work
out of fear of rejection or fear that I wouldn't
be enough. I don't know. I'm working through it with
my therapist. But what I admire about Charlemagne is that
he seems to not care at all about being rejected

by his peers, his co workers, his audience, anyone, and
that confidence has led to some of the most impactful
and sometimes controversial interviews over the last decade. As co
host of one of the most popular radio shows of
all time, The Breakfast Club, Charlemagne made time to sit
down with me in New York City to discuss all

of this, plus his upbringing, parenting, and the criticisms that
have come with his success and more. This has started
from the bottom, hard earned success stories from people like us.
First time I ever saw you was it was you
on the Wendy Williams radio show going toe to toe

with Andrew Dice Club. Yeah. Yeah, that was like two
seven Yeah, the most amazing things ever. And even though
you kind of got uh, I don't know, I feel
like Andrew kind of put it on you that day.
It was the way they edited it too, but it
was like, yeah, I had some I had some good ones,
but they didn't put all of them, and they put

the one about me calling them a fat fanzie. But
that's right. Looking back, you actually did a lot better
than I remember at the time. I was a dang
like Andrew, like I still got it. I've remember been like,
oh man, but then I kind of put you on
my radar. And then I remember when the Breakfast Club came,
I was like, oh, it makes sense, like this guy
clearly clearly had it. But yeah, I want to run
through your radio trajectory. But first I thought it'd be
good to start with growing up in Monk's Corner, South Carolina. Um,

it's interesting, right, because you know, I've been thinking about
that a lot more lately, only because, like you know,
when I'm in therapy, I'm doing like a lot of
um in a child work, you know, because I feel
like a lot of the issues that you deal with
as an adult, most of them directly connected something that
happened in your childhood. And so I've been thinking about,

like what was that upbringing, like growing up in Monsts Corner,
South Carolina, and the word I've come to realize that
it is associated with that that upbringing. It's simple. You know,
Monst Corner when I was young created a sense of
ease in my life that I feel like really helped

me growing up because I didn't move too fast and
I didn't move too slow. That still is a big,
big part of me. So when like, you know, that
anxiety that I've been feeling my whole life, sets in.
I feel like, Okay, I might be moving too fast,
but then I don't want to move too slow. But
then it's just a certain ease, like like baby Bears

part just just it's a just right level of ease
that growing up in Monst Corner gave me that I
tend to tap into whenever, like things get really hectic.
You mentioned some of the anxiety that you have. When
did that start? Really, Yeah, as long as I know.
I mean, the first panic attack I remember having was
first grade, my mom dropping me off, Like I can

feel it right now, my mom dropping me off first grade,
first day of first grade, and like I just cried uncontrollably,
like like I just felt like abandoned, lost and just
scared like that that that same, you know, unexplainable feeling

of fear and panic and worry. And I think my
mom even says that I might have cried for like
the first week. I don't remember the first week. I
remember that one particular day, but it's like, yeah, that's
the first time I remember ever having like a panic attack,
and I had him throughout my life, like I've been
going to the emergency room thinking that I'm having a

heart attack. You know, thinking that I'm dying, you know,
and then you get there and the doctor's like, oh,
did you have an energy drink today? And you're like,
I did drink a red Bull earlier. And it's like, oh,
that's probably why your heart is doing that. That's the
worst feeling, you know. So it wasn't to tell twenty
ten that a doctor actually said to me, it sounds
like you you have anxiety. He was literally was like,
it sounds like you had a panic attack the things

that you're describing. And he was like, has this happened
to you before? And I'm like all the time, And
you know, he asked me what I stretched out about anything,
and I'm like, hell yeah, because at the time, I
had just been fired for the fourth time from radio,
and I'm back living at home with my mom at
like thirty one, thirty two years old. My daughter's like
one or two. My wife is back living at home
with her parents, you know what I mean. In Monk's corner.

So it's like I was super stressed out collecting unemployment
checks every week. So in my mind, all I had
to do was get back in position and get me
another job, and all of that would go away, and
that wasn't the case. You know. I ended up getting
the Breakfast Club gig and having the most success I've
ever had in my life. And it felt like all
of those issues I had historically dealt with were magnified

times a hundred now. Yeah, you know, And so that's
what I decided to, like finally go get some help
and like go to therapy. What do you think do
you see that? Do you see that same anxiety in
your kids? Yeah, I haven't. I haven't seen it show
up as bad as mine was when I was at age.
And I think the beauty of life now is not

only do I have the language, I have the experience.
So it's just like that, and I wish that, you know,
somebody had put me in therapy when I was thirteen
fourteen now me, I definitely needed it because I was
getting sexually abused at eight years old. I didn't realize
that at the time. I didn't realize that was molestaid
until I was twenty something years old. You know. At
the time, I just thought I was eight year old
kids the neighborhood. Yeah, yeah, we we would all a

bunch of young men, We all be around having conversations
about older women that we were messing with, you know,
in the neighborhood, Like we all thought we were lying,
but clearly we allays like telling the truth in different ways. Right, So, Um,
when I was fourteen, I definitely needed to unpack some
of that. Do you think you would have had it
at that age? Do you think the trajectory would have
been the same, Like you think you would have been

ended up in the streets the way you did? Probably not?
And the reason probably not, just because you know, even
with the screech, Right, it's like a lot of that is, Um,
you trauma bond with people, yeah, because it's all a
bunch of individuals that are missing something, and like we
all want camaraderie, we all want family, we all want

a crew. And it's just sometimes men, we trauma bond
over bullshit, you know. So we trauma bond sometimes over crime,
you know, we trauma bond over drugs, We trauma bond
over alcohol, you know. But most of the time it's like, yeah,
we're all trauma bonding to do the wrong thing, Like
you know what I mean, Like let's go rob this

you know, individual, or go rob this store, break into
this house, and let's go, you know, figure out a
way to get some a pack the hustle. But it's
like what we're all lacking is like together this like everybody,
we're all tribal, and we all long for family, right
And I think that's what that's what a lot of
guys do when they when they click up in that way.

So I think for me, I definitely was longing for
like some type of family structure, even though I grew
up in a house with the oldest sister, two younger brothers,
and a younger sister. I was the second oldest. My
oldest sisters like ten twelve years older than me, and
my younger siblings are like ten twelve years younger than me,
So I was kind of I didn't have on an island, yeah, exactly.
So I ended up kicking it with brothers and who

are around my age, and we all ended up doing
a bunch of dirt. And I don't even like to
call it pear pressure, because I don't believe there's anything.
I don't believe peer pressure exists. I believe we all
just want to be accepted, you know what I'm saying.
And I think that when somebody pushes you to do something,
you do it because you don't want to let them down.

So it's a lot of people pleasing that goals and age,
especially at that age man. And it stays with you though,
That people pleasing stays with you. Like, that's something that
I had to unpacking therapy, like stop being a people pleaser, like,
you know, because sometimes you'll be a people pleased to
your own detriment. Yeah, you know, I believe anyone's ever
accused you being the people pleaser. Man, No, I think
that a lot of that. Man. That's because you seem

you have strong opinions, not scared of voice even if
it alienates you. Yeah, well, no, you're right, I've always
been that way. But no, there's there's been plenty of
times in my life where I just wanted to be down. Literally,
I just wanted to be down. I wanted to be accepted.
I wanted to be embraced, And you know, I can
think about you know, that time, at that moment, like
I just wanted to be embraced by you know, my peers.

You know. So that's why I started doing what a
lot of my PIDs was doing, which was a lot
of bullshit. You know, I mean, because I wanted to
be accepted some of that early stuff. A couple couple
of drug cases. U. The last one was you were
around the shooting. The first one was the first one.
The first one, I was in the backseat of a
car and my homeboy was in the front seat. Somebody

was driving, and we was in this neighborhood like like
like a two neighborhoods over from where we are in
Monst Corner, two towns over rather from where we are
in Monst Corner. And we were just having, you know,
some conversations with some young ladies. Then some guys in
the neighborhood didn't like that we would there. And you know,
I'm on my fake tough guys ship, my fake hardcore shit,
so I'm acting like doughboy and boys in the hood.

I got my hand under my shirt was up up yo, sup,
because like the fuck that means like what's up a problem?
You know what I mean? And they, you know, drove off.
Then we went to like I think it was Burger
King McDonald's. I don't remember. I think it was Burger King.
So he went to Burger King. As we're leaving, I
see the truck that those guys were in pulling up
behind us, and I say, I'd say tell him. I dude, like, oh,

that some guys from the neighborhood. And so they pulled
up on the side of us. So I'm in the
back seat of the car, dudes talking shit out the window.
One of my guys pulled out and shot from the
passenger seat, and you know, luckily nobody was in the
fourth seat, so it was the driver passenger and somebody
was sitting behind the driver with the bullet hit the
headrest in the fourth seat behind the passenger seat, you

know what I mean. Yeah, all praises do the God
because you know, that could have been a situation where
somebody got killed. Now were all in jail for twenty
thirty years, you know what I mean. So so even
now when I think about stuff like that, I'm like, oh, yeah,
you know, because I'm a big back to the future guy.
You know, you watch those those time heist movies. People

go back and little things change here and there and
change the whole trajectory of everything. And so yeah, that
was the first time I ever got arrested. Did it
change your relationship with your parents? It didn't change my
relationship with my parents. That actually made me realize my
dad was right, because my dad was always telling me
if I don't change my lifestyle, I'm gonna end up
in jail, dad, or broke sitting under the tree, you know.

So when I came home, I really was just looking
for positive things to do. Like, you know, I started
working at a warehouse called Industrial Acoustics Company, and you know,
from that point on, I wanted to keep a job.
But I worked there for like two to three weeks.
Got fired from there, you know, to supervisor and I
never forget her name. Her name was Gail cop Supervisor

was like, you don't fit in here. You're not what
we're looking for now, mind you up. My job was
literally like I was clearing out an area, like a
wooded area. So I'm like, oh god, damn, I'm not
fit to clean out a wooded area, you know. But
she was like, you don't fit in here. So then
I started working out a flower garden just because I
was looking to do, you know, something positive. And the

flower garden literally, and now that I think back on it,
it was literally a bunch of like migrants working there,
Like you know what I mean, It was clearly a
bunch of people who you know, weren't from this country,
who were just looking for work. Now now looking back
on it, that's what it was. It was literally just
a bunch of like Mexicans and you know, who knows

what else, like just working there, right, And so I
was there for like two weeks never his name was Dominique,
the same thing, and him got into a shouting match
because I was just like it, shit feels like a
It was a plantation. It literally was a flower garden.
It was actually called the yeah, it was called it
something plantation, flower garden. But it literally was just we

were out there in the hot sun picking flowers and
you know, other types of shit. So I quit that
and then that's when I started like flirting with the street,
you know what I mean. That's when it was like, man,
I figured out some ways to make money because you know,
I still got to pay my probation officer and shit
like that. And it was just a stupid mentality, right,
because when you're on probation, you got to keep a job.

That's number one, and you gotta pay your probation fees.
So I started just saying that I was working with
my dad and I was doing tempt services but also
had got a fifty dollars slab. Fifty dollars slabs when
you're getting fifty dollars worth of rock, and you know,
I think you posted big, Like I think it supposed
to be one hundred dollars off each gram. So I
think a slab was one gram that you paid fifty

dollars for and you cut it up and you posted
it cuts up into like one hundred dollars worth a rock.
So that was the first time I like dabbled in, like, yeah, hustling.
So yeah, did I left my Did I feel like, well,
how did my relationship with my parents changed? Yeah? I
thought they were right, but I still was young and
had to figure things out for myself, which led me,

which led me back, which led me into actually hustling.
You know. After the break, Charlotte Magne's gonna take us
on a ride through his earliest experiences with radio and
how that helped build his foundation in the business. When
did radio enter your life, like, not only not as

a career, as a listener, Like, what's your earliest experiences
with radio? Like forever, forever? And the reason I say
forever because like when I said, small town, Monst Corner,
South Carolina. So the radio station was Z ninety three Jams.
We were always around the radio. If it wasn't Z
ninety three Jams, it was another station called wpa L
one hundred point nine, and one hundred point nine was

like more underground with it, so they were playing like
underground stuff, not the mainscreen stuff. And like you know,
there was always like bone boxes around, like my cousin,
you know, my cousin Tye Sluth. My cousin Tye. He
was the first person let me hear like a real
hip hop record. Like prior to that, my sister had
her radio in her room. So my sister was listening

to like Kiddn't Play and Salt and Pepper, you know
what I mean, stuff like that Hammer all the pop stuff,
you know what I mean. But my cousin let me
hear Eric B and Rock Kemp paid in full. Wow,
and that changed everything. Wow. That was like I don't
know what this thing is called hip hop, but I

love it. It felt like rock Kim was saying stuff
like he was telling stories, like you know what I mean. Yeah,
just just that is what introduced me to radio and
always wanting to be around a radio. It felt like
we might even have been around radio more than TV.
You know, back in the day TV it was certain
shows we were watching, but we weren't just turning the

TV on and keeping it on all day. If it
wasn't like Nintendo, are you the radio man? We were outside, yeah,
like you know what I mean, running around, playing around.
So it's like, for me, radio has always been in
my life as a listener, like who are the personalities are?
Because like I know, like in LA and later I
came to us, it was like syndicated, but you know,

in LA always felt like it was like Big Boy
was like was huge, you know, and I felt like
our guy. For me growing up, it was oh, oh, oh,
it's the time Join Them morning show because you know,
my mom was a school teacher, so we was up
early early, so I was listening to the Time Join Them.
And then you know, ZE ninety three played such a
big role in my life because you know, their original

morning show that I remember was the Breakfast Club Baby
Jay and Tessa Tessa Spencer, and then you know, in
the afternoons it was like, um my man, y'all need
a rude boy. But then it was like you know
the night shows, the Top nine at nine, you know,
you want to call in and request the song and
hear your voice on the radio, shout out your school whatever, whatever.

But yeah, those were the people like growing up, like
people like Sean Dobe, like, those are the personalities that
I would hear, Reggie c You'd hear these people, and
they were just like regular voices that you would hear
all the time. Ken Moore like, I don't even know
if Kim was Ki on Z. I don't know if
Ki was on Deep. I just did the voices I remember. Yeah,

you know, growing up like those voices, those local radio voices.
Are you growing up? Absolutely miss anyone in the country absolutely.
Do you remember your first time on the radio. I
don't remember the very first time, but it definitely one
of the first times was my man Willy Will. There
was a guy named Willie Will. He was the night
jock there at the ninety three jams in Charleston, South Carolina.

Me and him used to wrap together. I met him
at you know, a couple of recording studios that were
in Charleston. When I got my internship up there. I
would always just be up there and I'd be sitting
in on his show and you know, he would definitely
you know, call me to the microphone, you know, and
I'd be on the mike talking. So definitely my first
time on air, I'm sure was with Willie will And

in some way, shape or form, because I remember wanted
to remember the program director telling him like, you know,
you need to get a cardboard cut out of Charlemagne
and put it in the studio because your energy goes up,
you know, when he's in here, you know, with you.
I remember I remember him saying that to him, and um, yeah,
which which probably ultimately led to me being on air

because my man Ron White, you know Suothron White. Me
and Ron still talked to this day. Round was like
you just asked me one day, like, Yo, do you
want to be on the radio? And I'm like, sure,
why not? And so they started putting me on Sundays
eleven am to three pm. When you say sure, like,
was there a part of you that had was that
just you playing the cool or were you really not
even sure you wanted to be on the radio like that? Yeah?

I never had thought about it, you know what I mean.
I just was really happy to be working at Z
ninety three Jams because it was like the most corporate
thing I had ever done. Yeah, you know it was.
It was the place. It was a place where, like
in South Carolina, people saw you at the ninety three
They're like, oh, he must be he must be doing something,
you know what I mean, Like he must be doing
something with his with his life, you know what I mean.

And for me being like a guy who was in
and out of jail at the time and was getting
in a lot of trouble and graduated from high school
in night school, had gotten kicked out of two high schools,
Like for me, that was a big deal for me
to be like pulling up in a most corner driving
this station vehicle like the big white band with the
Z ninety three Jams on the logo, you know what

I mean, pulling it down my dim road, you know
what I mean, hoping that some of the girls that
lived on my road saw me, you know what I mean.
Like that was a big deal for me back then.
So yeah, just to be there felt like you did. Yeah,
I just was just happy to be there. Like so
when he asked me to be on air, like hell, yeah, yeah,

whatever's gonna keep me here, yea. And of course when
you think radio, you think on air personality. You're not
thinking promotions or programming or anything like that. So hell yeah,
I'd love to be on it. Now I can really
say I work here and now I'm a personality, And yeah,
I really loved it and appreciate it. How was that

first show that you had? I was scaring all the
church folks because it was what they had me do.
They had me do something called voice track. And when
your voice track is when you record your voice and
you gotta record your voice, and you know, it's like
it's a time slot from like eleven to three, so
you're talking like three four times an hour, introducing songs,
time temperature and stuff like that. So I didn't know

how to do radio, you know, I really didn't. So
I was just going in there talking like yeah I was.
I was actually screaming. When I go back and listening
to my old voice tapes, I was screaming. And it's
funny because they all were telling me I was screaming,
like I'm not screaming. I was just old. I don't
understand how we talk about I was really yelling like
ninety three jams are being hip hop. My go by
the name is Charlemagne and gods that I was yelling,

like screaming at people and so like, you know, when
I finally started listening to the people who actually do
this for a living, I started to acquire a more
conversational tone. You know when in the beginning, I was
just yelling, like yelling, like literally yelling at people on
the radio, and that's what I was doing. And I
did that. I think I might have voice tracked a
few Sundays, and then Ron was like, all right, enough

of that. You're gonna have your voice track on Saturday
nights now seven to ten, and then you're gonna go
live from ten to midnight. And I was everything because
it's Saturday nights so I can have this high energy.
But then when we go live, or I could take
phone calls. Now it's like I'm taking phone calls and
I'm working with people when they're calling then making jokes

bla blash. So it's just like for me, the best
thing that ever happened to me was I didn't know
how to do radio. Nobody taught me how to do radio.
I wasn't a person who came from you know, doing
college radio or nowadays you can have a podcast or
a YouTube page. I was just fresh off the dirt
road in Monst Corner, South Carolina, getting on the air

in Charleston, South Carolina on the biggest radio station at
the time, Z ninety three, and that rawdness showed. I
sounded different than everybody else because I didn't have that announcer,
you know, background, So it worked for me. Yeah, you
didn't have the announcer broadcast, Yeah, petty or whatever. Was
just coming at it with your own angles. What was

your journey after that? After z SO, I worked as
an intern in ninety eight, started there in ninety nine
from the promotions department to um being on there, and
then a news station came in the market, Hot ninety
eight nine, much smaller station ran by a guy named
my Man. George Cook was the program director. I was

doing part time as z SO. I had some conversations
with Hot ninety eight nine. They wanted me to come
over there and do nights. They wanted me to do
Monday through Saturday, seven to midnight full time, and I
was I think the pay was like nineteen grand a year,
and at the time that was a lot of money,
and it was a salary just to be able to say,
first time on salary. I didn't go to college, you

know what I mean. I graduated from night school and like,
so I didn't just oh I got a salary now
A yeah, I'm just happy to be making nineteen grand
a year like that sounded like some shit, And so yeah,
I started working there every night and it wasn't even
about to check. It was about the opportunity to be
on every night. And my man, George Cookman, who's still

a great mentor to me to this day. He actually
George is not only the first person to give me
a full time position on radio, he told me some
information that just changed my whole life. And the information was,
I want you to have a morning show at night.
I want you to treat this night show that you

have like a morning show at night. Parody songs and
a lot of sketches and a lot of topics and
a lot of interaction with listeners via the phone and
you know, playing new music and all of that been
a fitting me so well in the future, because that's
what I ultimately treated every single show like. I treated
every single show like it was a morning show. So

no matter where I went from High ninety eighty nine
to the big DM in Columbia. Then it was Hot
one of three nine in Columbia, then it was Wendy
Williams show, and it was my own morning show in Philly.
By the time I got to my own morning show
in Philly, I had approached every single one of those
situations like it was a morning show. So by the
time I was ready to do my own morning show,

I was overprepared. Yeah, you know, So it was he
planned to seed early on that basically stuck with me
throughout my whole career and ultimately led to me being
the morning guy I am. Now let me come back.
You'll get a chance to hear what Charlemagne learned from
the legendary radio host Wendy Williams and lessons he had

to teach himself to achieve success. Tell me about meeting
Wendy Williams, man Man, I met Wendy because I was
doing radio in Columbia, South Carolina, Columbia had a really

dope station called Hot one with three nine. So Hot
one with three nine started syndicating Wendy Williams in the
afternoons and so Wendy and her husband would come down
for station visits, like they would come down to like
see the market and stuff like that, and so I
just would break bread, you know. And I remember the
first time I even tried to break bread with Wendy.

Wendy was in the studio trying to do her show,
which I totally understand, now, you know what I mean.
But I came in there with mixtapes and parody songs,
all of this stuff I wanted her to hear and
while she was doing her show, Yeah, I mean, but
she was in between breaks, you know what I mean.
But now when I under now understanding the hecticness of
a syndicated show, it wasn't like breaks like us, but

we break for twenty minutes, thirty minutes and got time
the bullshit she's on like on on on on, Like
it might have only been like three minutes. In between songs.
Wendy goes, little yo, Yo, take that mixtape shit out
of here. I'm trying to do my fucking show. Take
that mixtape shit to my husband. I didn't feel offended

by that. Yeah, I was just like, where's your husband?
She's like, I think if he's in that room somewhere
like in the conference room across the hall. Cool. So
I went across the room, gave him the mixtape, started
pitching ship to him, you know, pitching ship to him.
And then we started talking and we you know, kept
in contact from there, you know, and I used to
like give them the heads up on things that were

going on at the station. So he invited me to
come up to New York for a party. He was like, yeah,
want you to come up to New York. We're having
a party. Blah zah blah. And I'm like, all right.
I went to the party just to kick it. And
in the party, Wendy was like, oh shit, Charlemagne, Yo,
won't you come to my show? How long are you
in town? I like, oh, just for a couple of days.
Come to my show tomorrow, Like, come to your show tomorrow.

Can't tell me shit like that. I'm going I'm going
to be like, yo, all right, who do I call?
What do I do? And so I'm hitting CAV like Yo, Cav,
Wendy said, come to our show. He's like, all right,
I bet. So he just told me that. He told
me to go up there, went up there, sat in
the pink room to paint the office for a while.
Then she invited me on the show and I was

there for like twenty five minutes, and literally that evening
they were offering me the position as her co host sidekick.
And they was like, look, we can't pay you, but
we can give you a place to stay. And I'm
just like, all right, just let me go back down
South and like, you know, figure some things out, like
just you know, lett my girl, know what I'm about

to do and everything else. And that's what I did.
You knew the opportunity, yo. Man, you gotta recognize the
opportunity even when it's not a paycheck attached to it.
So my mindset was never I never I never wanted
like how much I'm gonna get paid. It was like,
we cannot pay you, but we can give you a
place to stay. I'm out the opportunity to be on
Wendy Williams Show Monday through Friday in the afternoon, nationally

syndicated show What are some lessons you learned on the
Wonder william Show? That Wendy's a legend no matter how
you feel about her, No matter how you feel about her,
bona farre legend. One of the most talented people, one
of the most talented media personalities of all time. You know,
one of the people few people who can like literally
sit down in front of a TV camera and just go. Yeah,

person who could just sit down in front of a
microphone and just go. And you realize the reason she's
able to do that is number one, she had does
have just the natural gift to gab. But one of
the lessons I learned that everything is showprep. Like a
lot of times, you know, back in the day, we
would think that show prep is like just picking up
the latest magazine or picking up the latest tabloid and
just downloading what's in there. Wendy taught me that your

whole life is showprep. Every single experience that you go
through can be brought to the radio. You know, every
single experience that you go through can be bought, you know,
the television. I would watch her, I'd be out with
her during the day, watch these things happen to her,
and then watch her get on the radio and talk
about these things like, oh, I was there, and of

course he's making me part of the story because and
Charlemagne said this. Charlemagne was right there and Charlotmagne acted
like he didn't see it and it isn't that Like
I'm like, god, damn, she's incredible, you know what I mean,
Like he's just an incredible storyteller. So you know, um,
she taught me how to tell stories via radio, even
though I was already doing it, but I was doing
it more so through sketches. But now just to make

your life a story, to make the things that happened
to you throughout the day a story. That was like
one of the biggest things, like everything is show prep.
And the other thing was like you're either gonna be
of the people or of the industry, because when you're
of the people, you're always going to speak like for
the people and you're gonna speak how the people speak.

When you're of the industry, like you're gonna try to
protect relationships and you're gonna try to you know, protect people.
You know, so you're not gonna have those opinions that
you that you probably once had that was good advice
at the time. I think that there's an adjustment to
be made in that rhetoric because it's gonna come a
time where like you're going to be industry. Yeah, you

get too big. Yeah, and everybody around you was gonna
be industry too. I've been in the game for twenty
five years. So not only have I grown as a
personality and a businessman, a media just everything right, people
around me have to Now. I got people who run
record labels. I got people who are in rs. I

got people who work at these social media platforms, you
know what I mean. I got friends that are artists
in big celebrities. We all I've been doing it for
twenty five years. We all came up together. And not
only just the people I came up with, those next
generations of people that now I'm in position. But oh
I see this person coming. Let me embrace this in

the VILDI and brace that in the Viddle school. We're
all industry, you know what I mean. So your authentic
self has to change. It's like reason doubt was authentic
for jay z or for its authentic for jay Zay.
But what you just said hit it on the head
because people don't pay attention to that. Like you saw
me when I was one version of myself. If I

had stayed that version and never grown into anything else,
it's no way I'm being authentic. Yeah, Muhammad Alis said,
the person who's doing the same thing at fifty that
he was at twenty wasted thirty years as his fucking Like,
ain't I believe that, you know what I mean. It's
just like you're I'm never going to be that version again.
But the only thing I could do is be the
best version of my authentic self, whatever that may be,

whatever I grow into, you know, And like that's why
me at forty four, you got damn right, I'm not
the same way I was at thirty one. I better
not be. I mean, I'm my true authentic self right now.
And you know, you realize like the power of the platform,
and what I mean by that is like, man, there's
just certain things that we got to protect people from

because we have these platforms, and sometimes the wrong information
is viewed over the platform, you know, and people get
hurt because of that. Yeah, you know, And I'm not
in the business of hurting nobody. I don't want to
hurt nobody, and I don't want the person putting out
the information to be hurt. Yeah you know. So, yeah,
well that's interesting because and I don't know if this

was necessarily this person being hurt by you, but after
Wendy Williams. You get your own show in Philly and
you get fired because you bring Beanie Seagull on, who's
a who's a Philly rapper. Yeah. If I tell me
if I'm not getting a story right, If you bring
on Beanie Seagull, who's a Philly rapper at one point
was signed to Rockefeller Records, came up under Jay jay
Z and you do an interview with beans on the

show and he says something about Jay that makes Jay mad,
and you get get fired that Yeah, that's the story.
The story is that I got fired because Beanie Segul
got on the air and aired out Jay Z. And
I'm the one who recorded it. I'll put it on air.
That's the story. I don't know if that's true or not.
Jay never has confirmed what Jay has Jay never confirmed

or denied on air. Behind the scenes, he has said
to me like that, did that really gets you fight? Like?
You know what I mean? And that's the story, right,
I don't. I doubt that's highly the case, you know
what I mean. When I think back then, I think
um I had a new program director was hired, and
I think that new program director just wanted to bring
in his people, and that new program director like he

don't know, he had his chest out a little bit.
I remember the first time I met him, he was like,
oh me, and you're gonna be able to get along.
So he came in there on some like snapping the
whip ship, let me get this guy in line type thing,
and I think that, um, it was a combination of
just him being new and wanting to bring in his
own people, but also a combination of people thinking they're
doing the right thing for jay Z. But jay Z's

not even thinking about this. He's you know what I mean.
It's one of those things like I know, I know
Charlotmagne did it, but we got rid of Charlomagne and
you let Jay know I did it whatever whatever you know.
So I don't know. I do feel like maybe a
higher up might have might have just pulled the trigger
on that firing just to get in Jay's good graces.
But I don't think that was a hey, i'm jay Z,

I'm offended, body, just get this guy off the airthing. No.
I don't believe that at all. Okay, okay, but that
does get you fired, and that was your own show.
I mean, that's like your own show in Philly. That's
like and if your first time happened like your own show,
that's like, yeah, um, that's that big that I was killing.
I was number I think two in the market. I
was number two in the market at the time, and
that was in a PPM world, So I was I

was doing great and it was literally just me and
my homegirl, Sa. I should suo to Sasha Katie. That's
the homie, you know what I mean. She we used
to work together when I used to work at Wendy
at WBLS, and so when I got my own show
in Philly, just asked, yo, you want to be my
producer and she was like hell yeah. So we literally
would drive from New Jersey every morning back and forth

the Pennsylvania like like an hour and a half away.
We would drive back and forth every day three I
have to get up at three in the morning, pick
her up by like four three thirty four o'clock to
be there on time. And we did that every single day, wow,
for like six seven months. The funny part is I
got fired to day I was supposed to move into

the townhouse because I was still living in New Jersey,
so me and my wife had got a townhouse, and
I'm like, yeah, this is gonna be great. Now I
gotta wake up sore early, like I don't have to drive,
like I'm in my basket. I'm processing all this in
my mind. Were living in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, on
the outskirts of Philadelphia, going roll my daughter in school here,
all of that type of ship. And the day I

got fired, I literally had all my stuff in the
fucking I had a two thousand two escalated with like
one hundred and fifty thousand miles on it, and I
had all that in the car, ready to move into
the townhouse. And I got fired on that day, literally
that day, and went back to South Carolina, back in
Most Corner for a year. And what was going through

your head at that point? Failure? I failed. I gotta
go back to Mons Corner, after being you know, on
Wendy Show, after having my own show in Philly, after
having these viral moments, after being on VH one TV
with Wendy. Now I got to go back to the
Month's Corner and collect unemployment for real, because I don't

know when I'm gonna get another gig. And now I
got a daughter. So I literally was in South Carolina
from November two thousand and nine to November two and ten,
so I was able to collect a year of unemployment.
You know what I mean. I'm living at home with
my mom, depressed, this shit, you know, anxiety through the roof,

just trying to figure out what's gonna happen. But you know,
I used that opportunity to m There was a new
station launching in Charleston, South Carolina. It was called The Box.
I think it was like ninety two five The Box
or something like that. So I was there with them,
helping them launch the station, helping them write promos and
creating imaging for the station, did the voiceovers for the station.

Like in my mind, I was like, Okay, I'm gonna
end up getting a shift on ninety two five. I'm
gonna make my twenty grand a year here in South Carolina,
and we're gonna live a great life. Yeah that was
my mindseting. But you know, clearly God had other plans
because the Breakfast Club came shortly after that. How did
that come? Um? When I was in Philly, there was

a there was a time where I had met with
my man g Spen um before I me and g
Spen met in a restaurant or something. It was me
and at the time my then uh my then manager
named it was Kevin Wendy's husband, and you know, you
don't have the best reputation in the business man, and
so even though we met, g Spen wasn't really feeling it.

And then later on that turned into a meeting with
my man Cadillac Jack and cad was with me then
and it was the same thing. Like literally I found
out that after we left the meeting, mad people came
from like the sales department was like, you cannot Charlotta
Magne's great, but if as long as you know Kevin
is his manager, you know we can't hire him, and YadA, YadA, YadA,

the energy will be bad and terrible all of this
type of stuff. I didn't know that, you know. And
then you know, me and Kevin ended up having a
fallen out parting ways. And so I was in New
York because I had moved back to South Carolina, but
I was in New York for a couple of days
and I remember just texting g Spend like, yo, you
know where you at And he was like I'm in

New York where you at. I'm like, I'm in Jersey
right now. I was standing in Fort Lee. I was
at the Double Tree in four League, and he was like, yo, man,
he was like, yo, come to the station. I'm like word.
He was like, yeah, yeah, come to the station. Come
to the station right now. And so I got in
the rental car drove seem it took me like three
hours to get there because it was like four o'clock

in the aftern So we was at the GW Bridge
for what seemed like an hour and trying to get
down to the West Side, creeping down and Tribeca. But
I finally get there and Spend is like, yo, U
my boss, Cadillac Jack has been watching your stuff all
day long, watching you and Duval with the Hood, State
of the Union and listen under like some old interviews

when you was on the radio in Philly. So I
sit down with Cadillac, and me and Cadillac just have
a great conversation. And one of the first things he
says to me is like, you know, is keV still
you're managing I'm like, nah, you know. And that's how
the relationship started. So like a few months later, I
got high on probably one or five one. I remember

Cadillac saying like, how long can you wait for this job?
And I'm like, for this job as long as it takes.
And so like five six months later, you know, the
wheels really started to move where you want him that
whole five six months, like yo, like, oh yes, yeah,
you couldn't just sit back and no, no, no, definitely
stayed in touch, would send him new episodes and me
and duvall show, you know, just just anything anything that

I was doing in that space, I would because we
was early on social media. He was all over my
space and Twitter and everything else. So yeah, like I
was definitely keeping in real touch with him and g Span,
you know what I mean, and sometimes popping up, popping up,
you know, and be like because I knew kind of
like the gig might be mine, so I was kind
of like popping up. And it felt bad because there

was like people who I was like really cool with
that work there, and I couldn't say anything, you know
about the conversations me and Cadillac we're having, you know
what I mean, And I had to like lie to
some of these people, and it felt bad, you know
what I mean because I just couldn't tell the truth

because this business still to be handled, you know. So
but yeah, that's how I got there. That's amazing, man.
And then and then basically from that, I mean, from
that point, are you still there obviously Breakfast Club, Yeah,
thirteen years later, man. And what's so interesting is that
any of them would tell you. Angelie will tell you,
NB will tell you. Our radio consultant, Dennis Clark, g

Span Cadillac, the guy saying We're gonna be one of
the biggest nationally syndicated shows in the country. Like, like,
I just I knew it. I saw what this show
had the potential of being. And like from day one
me in v Angela, we always recorded our interviews and
put them online. That's how I was aware of what

Angela was doing. I was aware of what you know,
Envy was doing. You know, people like my homegirl Kendred
g deVie Brown, we were all utilizing the Internet. And
so when we got with the Breklast Club, that's all
we didn't have no money from marketing. They don't have
no money for marketing, no money for promotions. This was
kind of like a last ditch thing to see if
something will work to even keep the lights on that
power one oh five one. And so all we asked

for was a cameraman every day to come in here
and record, you know, these interviews. And that's what we did.
We started recording these interviews, putting them up online, recording
these interviews, putting them on websites. And then at the
time all these blogs and the world Stars and all
of these different platforms, these websites existed sending our interviews out,
they started posting them. Yeah, next thing, you know, it

took off in a real way, and here we are.
How do you how do you manage that? Like, how
do you manage the expectation of how do you manage
the success? How do you manage what is just out
of reach at the moment that's that's gonna be coming
up for you. I manage it just by like realizing
what my daddy always says, you never as good as
they say you are, and you never as bad as

they say you are. Like I've already had my moments
of like ego. I've had my moments of like being
that narcissistic, arrogant person that you know, you can't tell
anything too whether people realize that or not. I'm sure
that they did, because I'm sure I projected it, you
know what I mean. But I went through that, and

I went through that at a time where, like God,
knew I had to get over that in order to
be where I am now. So I knew that I
had to start doing some work on myself. I was
really coming everything that I said I didn't like. You know,
I was looking in the mirror and really becoming my father.

I love my father, but I hated how my father's
infidelity ruined his marriage with my mom, you know, and
ruined our family. Right. So for me, I didn't want
to do that, and I felt myself going down that
path in a real way. So it was just like,

let me check myself before I wrecked myself. You know why?
Let you go? Man? Last question, if you can pick
out one thing that's helped you be successful, that's sort
of been with you through every period of your of
your career, what do I think that thing would be? Man?
For me, it would like to really be authentic. And

what I mean by that is you're not authentic when
you're being a character to yourself. You're not authentic when
you see something working for you and you're getting rewarded
for it, so you start doubling and trippling down on
that thing. You're not authentic when you're being a second
rate version of somebody else instead of a first rate

version of yourself. And one of the things that hurt
me the most is when they started calling me to
hip hop Howard Stern. I love Howard Stern, right, but
I didn't even stop to think why they were calling
me that. I just took it and ran with it,
you know, and started giving them like all of the
examples of Howard that Howard might not even be proud

of now, you know. For me, it was like a
lot of the the frat boy, creepy ass, overly sexual humor,
you know, like the low vibrational energy is what I
was really doing, the limbo with how low can you go?
You know what I mean? Like literally like how low
can you go? Like literally, And that's the type of

shit I was doing. So like when you go online
and you see like videos of me like sniffing chairs
or like tying porn stars up and all of that,
it was literally for the shock. Yeah, And so like
that stuck with me for like, man, maybe maybe a
year or two I was on that and then just
started to eat me up, Like, Yo, this ain't making

me happy. This shit is whacked. And you got your
you know, your wife. You know I got married in
twenty fourteen, so you got your wife on your head
at the time. She's my girl, Like what the fuck
are you doing? Like, you know, you out here wilding,
you cheating on me, and you you're on the radio
and you're damning bragging about word of the ball like
it was that type of conversation. I'm like, man, are

you tripping? Like you know you it's just entertainment. That
was my life. It's just entertainment. But it's not. Yeah,
it's really not, you know, because you know, but when
you're influencing mad people, and in this case, I'm hurting
somebody and hurting the person that's the closest to me,
and you can start to believe your own bullshit. That's
the worst when you get into character and you start
believing that you really are this dude. So it's like

for me, man, that's what made me like really start
like going to therapy and like doing the work because
I did not like the version of myself that I
was becoming. So my advice to anybody would just to
just be authentic, always leave yourself open to growth, and
don't be afraid of where that growth takes you. I

don't give a fuck what people like about you today.
If you're growing into something else tomorrow, follow that shit,
you know what I mean, Because if you don't, you know,
you're really just stunting your growth and you really don't
know how big you could possibly be. You're putting a
cap on you, like, you're literally putting a limit on

how far you could possibly grow, how big you could get,
because you're like, Nope, that's what they like about me,
So I'm gonna keep it here as opposed to just
leaving yourself open to see what else is out there
and how much more you could continue to grow. So
that's what I tell people. Be authentic, man, and just
don't be afraid to grow. Yeah yeah, man, thanks for
bringing you authentic self to everything, man. I appreciate thanks. Man,

appreciate Charlemagne, who the ups and downs are building a
media career in one of the most cutthroat of mediums radio,
has shown up ready to bring his full self to
whatever it is he does, and the brilliance of that
is he's been impossible to ignore. I want to thank
him for that confidence and for taking the time to

talk with me. I plan on spending more time working
on my fear of being rejected just for being me.
Thanks for listening. To Start It from the Bottom, I'm out.
He started from the Bottom is produced by David Jah,
edited by Keishaw Williams, Engineered by Bentaliday, Booked by Laura
Morgan with production help from Lea Rose. The show's executive

produced by Jacob Bolstein, who's not all up in the
videos for Pushkin Industries. Our theme music is by Ben
Taliday and David Jaw, featuring Anthony Yaggas and Savanna Joe Lack.
Listen to Start It from the Bottom. Wherever you at
your podcast and if you want ad free episodes available
one week early sign up for Pushkin Plus. Check out

Pushkin dot fm or the Apple show page for more information.
If you like our show, please remember to share, rate,
and review us on your podcast app. I'm justin Richmond.
Advertise With Us

Popular Podcasts

Dateline NBC
Stuff You Should Know

Stuff You Should Know

If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks, then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

The Nikki Glaser Podcast

Every week comedian and infamous roaster Nikki Glaser provides a fun, fast-paced, and brutally honest look into current pop-culture and her own personal life.

Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.


© 2024 iHeartMedia, Inc.