I’m Worth It with Chicago Radio Legend Bonnie “Hey Baby” DeShong

I credit Bonnie with helping teach me the ropes when I was a radio rookie at WGCI in the early ‘90s. By then, she was already an essential part of Chicago Urban Radio, co-hosting mornings with giants like Tom Joyner and Doug Banks.  She had shifted her dream of a full-time career in theater to performing behind a microphone. What I love about Bonnie is that she is absolutely herself in everything she does. 

JS:  I remember you doing plays and things. I mean, the Goodman, ETA, all these all these institutions of arts, the theatre arts in Chicago, you’ve been on those stages. So you didn’t actually give up that dream. It just looked a little bit different, right?

BS: Yeah. That’s exactly it Jeanne. I always felt that whatever I wanted to do I needed to do to fulfill how I felt, okay? And that even came down to being with the listeners that we would greet. And being on stage or being out in the public eye and someone coming up to you. It’s how you feel about yourself, it comes out to the people who you are greeting. You know what I’m saying?

JS: You’re gonna make me cry. Oh, that’s so true. And I talk about that so much. And I think because we share some acting background with that, and it’s so true. You affect how people feel. You can change the temperature in a room by how you enter it. And I tell that to my clients all the time. And it’s amazing how we learn that with work.

BS: And it’s the truth. Now, the one thing that that really resonated with me was when Marv Dyson (former WGCI GM) said, and he won’t remember this, I’m sure. He said that Gannett may sign your paycheck. But your boss is your listener. If they turn the radio off, you ain’t got no job. Okay, so you have to relate. And you can’t think that because I’m on the radio, I’m all this in a bag of chips, you got to realize that when you go to the bathroom, you’re going next to somebody who’s not on the radio, you know what I’m saying? It’s like when days get hard, it doesn’t matter that you on the radio or not, if you hungry, you don’t matter. You have to treat people the way you want to be treated. And when that happens, it comes out and they give it right back to you. 

JS: I just want that to sit there for a second because those are the biggest facts in the world. And it’s actually something that you taught me when I was new to the business because that’s one of the hardest things to get used to. Because when you start, you’re young, you don’t have no kind of sense. But you think you know everything.

(Edited for length and clarity)

Listening Is Our Superpower with Award-Winning Poet, Recording Artist, Songwriter, Actor, & Author J. Ivy

As long as I’ve known J. Ivy, he’s been living his saying of “Dreams don’t come true. They are true.” I actually see it as a connection to Fearless Authenticity – that you speak what is inside of you. And man, does J! Poetry is in his heart and he’s not afraid to share it, especially on stage where he says he’s living his purpose. 

JS: I think the beauty in life is when you really listen to what is true and right. When you hear something that is not, you may not be able to put your finger on it, but you know that it’s there. And, I try to root that out in myself, because I think we often try to please, especially as performers, we try to get out there and do stuff and I wonder how that process is for you. Because you are very flexible in your art. You do everything from working with Kanye to major corporate brands, which is a whole other lane. And then the Deepak Chopra and the community work you do. And kids, like you do a lot of stuff and keep an arts in schools, which that’s a whole other lane I want to talk about. Specifically, but, but flowing through all those different things that are different audiences that need different things. How do you keep your truth? And that kernel of truth in it without trying to cater to it? Right? Or to please?

J.Ivy: Well, one, like flow is key. That’s our theme word – flow. So to move in different spaces. The foundation and everything that I do is poetry, is a writer. At the root of it all I’m a writer, I’m a writer. So if I’m kicking some bars poetically over here, or writing on a film or working on some music or writing proposals, with the Recording Academy, let me write this out and tell them how I feel because we need to make some changes over here. Like, I know I’m confident in myself finally. That has been an issue over the years, just finding that confidence, but I’m confident that I can get my point across and I can flow and adapt. 

I think it goes back to the listening and just like really trying to hear, okay, what is this call for? A lot of times people are typecast too. So a lot of times people, they might want me to come in and do something, but J, we don’t want it to be poetic. And I’m like, I know, I don’t want it to be poetic either. It just depends on what the project calls for. So it goes back to listening and goes back to flow, goes back to being flexible. And just knowing where we’re going, because once you know where you’re going, then it’s easy or easier to navigate and figure out how you gonna get there.