Several years ago Miami-based radio personality Jill Tracey got the call.
Not the one that says you are the winner of a million dollars. Nor the one that says you should give up your worldly ways and follow capital H-I-M.
It was that other call, the one that says your services are no longer needed.
When the popular DJ was summarily dismissed from her job, it came as a shock to both her and her fans.
Jill Tracey may have left the building but she was far from gone.
Jill got a chance to broaden her fan base, this time not by playing songs or exchanging quips, but by revealing her vulnerabilities on the third and final season of the Emmy-winning daytime reality TV show, Starting Over. On the groundbreaking series, several women from different walks of life agree to live in a house together and with the assistance of life coaches, work to develop the tools to transform their lives.
Jill’s life coach was none other than the famed one-time Oprah protege, Iyanla Vanzant.
Today, Jill is on to the next one; this time with a new show on a new format, something of her own making — The Jill Tracey Show. A great time filled with cool tunes and easy like Sunday morning conversation, Jill, her crew, and special guests give you something to laugh about, think about and snap your fingers and bob your head to.
Jill also serves up the 411 on the 305 (a.k.a Miami) on Hot 105 FM.
With a penchant for cupcakes and straight talk, Jill is set to prove that success is sweeter the second time around.
The Ride caught up with the diva-in-waiting and she was gracious enough to “spill the tea” about Iyanla, reality TV shows, and her new love, The Jill Tracey Show.
The Ride: Hey Doll! (Channeling my inner Kardashian, which happens to be Khloe). Thanks for taking the time to chat with me. Since I saw you on Starting Over years ago, you’ve been a friend in my head (channeling my inner Wendy Williams now). So nice that we’ve been able to meet via cyberspace primarily through Twitter and our mutual love of reality shows. More on that later. It’s awesome that we finally had a chance to connect!
Jill: It’s funny how God connects “like spirits, hearts and minds like that!”
The Ride: You’ve returned to radio after a long hiatus, this time in a bit of a different form, via podcasting. How has new media/social media changed radio? And what is it like to be back?
Jill: Wow. It’s created a new lane really. A new avenue for people with ideas to get creative and have their voices heard. For the brave, it’s a place to sail your own ship. You know that saying, “Bloom where you are planted”? That’s exactly what social media allows you to without waiting for a suit somewhere to validate your existence! It’s heaven to be back in the chair…
The Ride: So what’s the 411 on The Jill Tracey Show?
Jill: It could have also been called The Conversation – but it wasn’t as sexy [smiles]. The show is really about how real love, life and information(411) is shared, dissected and becomes instrumental in change through good conversations. It’s like that conversation with your best girlfriend over coffee where you solve the debt crisis, a cure for world hunger and find a new stylist for Nene all before lunch. When you listen, I want you to feel like you’re eavesdropping on a really great conversation…
The Ride: I love your crew. You roll pretty deep. Tell me about them. What does take to be a member the Jill Tracey crew?
Jill: Thanks! You’ve gotta have a clearly defined point of view, a great sense of humor and be fearless about the things you believe. We don’t all agree. In fact, sometimes we are on so many different pages you wonder how we all got in the same book! But the common factor is that we respect each other and really want to offer the audience the best of who we are.
The Ride: On Starting Over, Iyanla Vanzant, was your life coach. Was it like working with her? If I recall correctly, she was pretty hard on everyone.
Jill: Iyana Vanzant is a BEAST and I mean that in the very best way. She is that doctor/mentor/friend that when you say “I want to change and I need your help,” she takes it to heart and does NOT let you go until you do. I really have a hard time talking about her without tears welling up because she was brave and fearless enough to show me the error of my ways, yet compassionate and gracious enough to hold my hand to help me change. She is my angel on earth, rose colored glasses firmly in place [smiles].
The Ride: What did you think about her appearance on Oprah? I like Iyanla but I thought she did not come across very well — a little needy, and perhaps a bit kooky. Personally, I was quite surprised. Was this the real Iyanla or an imposter who pulled off some kind of body snatching for a day?
Jill: You know I honestly felt the same way. It was like,”Huh”? But deep inside I GOT how she GOT me so well after I SAW what happened between she and Oprah. Make sense? I saw that we had some of the same experiences when it comes to not feeling worthy of the professional praise because of personal experiences that were marred by people who in public say they love and adore you, yet in private treat you like…dog poo. But it was painful to watch the second show for sure because it made her seem like she was this big flake and when she left Oprah she just fell off the side of the earth.
The Ride: Any advice to someone thinking that s/he would LOVE to be on a reality TV show?
Jill: HA! It’s a lot! There are very few shows out there that are about healing like the show I was on — about coming home a better person. IF that is the case, and you’re ready to commit, DO IT. There is really nothing like it, being able to submerge yourself into changing your life totally without having to pick up the kids, argue with your boss and deal with your day to day life.
But just KNOW that you know have a jury of the world deciding who and what you are and you have to be careful not to get caught up in defending yourself when to get out of the fishbowl ’cause everyone’s view is different and none of their opinions really have anything to do with you.
The upside of that though is the hundreds, sometimes thousands of people who reach out to you saying how seeing you be courageous and facing your fears has helped them. I received email and letters for every corner of the world. I made friends in Israel and Poland and South Africa with people who watched the show and connected with my story. That was, is amazing.
The Ride: Just curious. I know you love to watch reality TV, I think nearly as much as I do. I would think for you it would be like knowing how your favorite sausage is made or what really goes on in the kitchen of your favorite eatery. It’s like once you know how things or done or made, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. Why DO you watch?
Jill: That’s funny!! But true! I watch now with a different eye for sure. Like I know that those chicks on the Bad Girls Club are playing to camera and trying to flirt with the camera guys and girls, running around half naked…It’s such a fishbowl you forget the entire world is gonna see that foolishness! And those competition shows they tell you not to break the 3rd wall but believe me, when you see a fight or someone fall out and then the next shot you see them in the confessional talking about it, that’s all practically scripted.
The Ride: Do you watch with greater insight or is there a willing suspension of disbelief?
Jill: Greater insight… [smiles]
The Ride: Speaking of Oprah, (I know we weren’t but just play along, thanks), if you owned OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network), what would we see?
Jill: What a great question! Mornings I’d have a [The] View-ish live show w/ Oprah in the Barbara role, and lifestyle shows a la Nat Berkus, I would do new season Starting Over at noon followed by a new show with Barefoot Contessa cooking in celebrity homes, Chuck’s Day Off from the cooking channel Maybe Roseanne in the afternoon…Wow that’s just daytime…Oprah’s got a ton on her hands to revamp that…
The Ride: I heard you are a cupcake-nista. If someone gave you the chance to create your own signature cupcake, what would it be and what would it be called?
Jill: The Best of Both Worlds and it would be a black and white cookie turned into a cupcake with dulce de leche icing in the center!
The Ride: What’s your favorite cocktail?
Jill: Margarita, I think. Partial to a Dirty Martini as well.
The Ride: Of the Bravo housewives, whose team are you on?
Jill: I would have to say Team Maloof. Adrienne is a few years older than me but we are the same sign (Virgo). She’s very level headed, always wants to be the one to calm everyone down. She parties like a rock star and she’s richer that ANY of those hookers.
The Ride: Back to the future. What’s next for The Jill Tracey Show?
Jill: Well, we want to partner with stations around the country to run the show. In the big picture, I want to create a new lane with how listeners and viewers interact with their programming, becoming a part of the programming and creating content in the truest sense of having a conversation with our audience.
The Ride: Thanks so very much Jill!!
To connect with The Jill Tracey Show and get the 411 on news, views, The Question of Day, and upcoming shows, click here.
“Update”, “newsflash”, whatever you want to call it. Here’s the big news. According to Jill Tracey who has been in touch with Iyanla Vanzant, Iyanla will have her own show premiering on OWN (The Oprah Winfrey Network) in the fall. A full circle moment indeed. And stay tuned for the interview on The Jill Tracey Show in August.