By Charles Hallman
Miss Georgia entertains her on-air radio audience every midday at KMOJ-FM. She recently took her local celebrity status to the Big Apple as a guest judge on BET’s 106 & Park show.
Georgia Ellyse, a St. Paul native, appeared on the cable network’s June 8 broadcast as one of three judges. “They have a segment on Fridays called ‘Freestyle Friday,’ she explains in an interview with the MSR prior to her appearance. “They bring in two contestants to rap and they battle against each other.”
This isn’t her first time being asked to decide a musical winner: Miss Georgia earlier judged a local “battle competition” last month, but as for the national stage, “It was something that I have been thinking about and wanted to do for a long time,” she points out. “I knocked on the door, and the door opened for me.”
Her go-get-it-ness and versatility impresses her fellow co-workers and top station officials. “All she did was send an email and make a phone call,” notes KMOJ Program Director Candice Breedlove. “It is something that all of our personalities can do.”
“Her drive is there, and I think it is a blessing,” adds Station Manager Kelvin Quarles of Miss Georgia. “We’re excited and proud of her.”
“I am a very creative person,” says the on-air personality, who also models for a national shopping channel, writes music and performs. “I don’t like to limit myself.”
After graduating in the “top 20 percent of my class” at St. Paul Harding High School in 2006, Miss Georgia attended the University of St. Thomas, where at first she pursued broadcast journalism but later switched majors and got her degree in business administration and management in 2011. “I didn’t want to be boxed in, and business was broader,” she recalls.
But in her sophomore year, Miss Georgia says she wanted more than just going to class and studying. “I was very academically driven and got bored,” she says. “I was not involved in any extracurricular activities because I was overwhelmed with working full time, being a student full time, had an internship and I was a young mom.”
She then got involved with St. Thomas’ online radio station. “I did it for four months, and just fell in love with it,” remembers Miss Georgia, who later signed with the Center for Communications Development, KMOJ’s training arm. “I came and got the orientation, and did the best that I could do in my internship.”
That internship eventually led her to her present role at the station.
Since being at KMOJ, Miss Georgia has shown the ability to do interviews as well as being an on-air host.
“I definitely like interviewing people,” she says. “I took the initiative to start interviewing local artists, and it really helped me hone my skills as an interviewer. It is something that comes naturally to me.”
For example, Miss Georgia proudly talks about her 2011 interview with rapper J-Kwon. “He had a huge hit when he was 17, then all of a sudden he fell off the face of the earth and no one really knew why. When I interviewed him, there was a rumor that was going around that he was going to court for [a] child support [nonpayment case].” But when the artist discovered that the child he was supposed to be paying support for was not his, Miss Georgia asked him on the record about it.
“The fact that he took the time out to speak with me was a great opportunity for me and the station,” she notes of her interview that was later picked by national outlets: “It went everywhere,” she says.
“I do a lot of studying of other interviewers like Oprah [Winfrey] and Angie Martinez [a New York radio personality and rapper] in my own free time. I’ve only been in this business three years …I’ve gone far but I have so much farther to go, and so many more things I want to accomplish.”
Finally, from intern to midday host, Miss Georgia has shown that she has what it takes as she prepare for life away from the station, a goal station officials want for all KMOJ personalities.
“Our goal always is not to keep them here [but] to get you here, train you, and you move on and make something better for yourself,” says Quarles. “The most important think is that our goal and hope is that by Georgia being able to take this next step in her career, that it may inspire the other people currently here at the station and potentially the new people that we bring in the door.”
KMOJ is “a really good fit for me. This is what I want to do,” Miss Georgia confirms.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.