On-Air With Sir Anthony Spease
In the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia lies an incognito office space where the modern decor and unrefined architecture work in tandem. Oversized leather chairs sit underneath exposed ceiling pipes, and a textured brick wall showcases a portrait of Rocky Balboa. Interviewing guests in a corner radio studio, a young media entrepreneur is at work structuring his empire.
Sir Anthony is an accomplished radio and television host who currently has an online radio broadcast titled “On Air With Sir.” InThe10th met with Sir to discuss his: love for radio, favorite media influences, and future endeavors.
How did you come up with your radio name?
Despite what many people may think, my government name is Sir Anthony. Sir just happens to be a pretty fitting salutation as well. And the ‘On-Air’ part, well that’s self-explanatory. We speak on a wide range of topics on my show, so I wanted my name to reflect all of the above.
In your biography, you described how you were a “problem child” and how you began your radio career at 12. Did radio help you channel that mischievous energy into a positive craft?
Yes. The deal I made with the radio station I was working was simple. In order to keep my job, I had to maintain honor roll worthy grades in school and stay out of trouble. Celebrity encounters and first-hand production experience, I loved the lifestyle, and I wanted to continue being around it. As a child, I was bullied which caused me to be angry and carry that attitude around with me. When I found radio, things changed for the better. This was the first time I recognized that my energy could be channeled toward something positive, toward something I had a passion for.
I’m not the richest guy right now, and I’m not the smartest right now, but my struggle definitely ended.
Since you started in radio so young, did radio come naturally or was it an art you had to perfect?
Radio is an art. Some skills come natural, but a lot of it takes practice. When I was a child, I stuttered, and I was made fun of for it. But radio was a platform that allowed me to express myself without judgment. It was my microphone, my show, and people like it. It was the first time I felt accepted for being myself. But even though I’ve been hosting for years, I still find things to work on, and there’s so much to learn in radio, so I think there’s always going to be room for improvement.
Is there any subject matter (religion, sex, politics, etc.) that you will not discuss in an interview?
I am an open-minded person. I understand that there are some things that are difficult to discuss, but at “On Air With Sir” we pride ourselves on being a show that educates through laughter. I think that comedy takes the edge off of things that may typically be offensive or controversial. It makes the conversation comfortable and allows for the importance of the message to get across to the listeners. There’s a way to discuss everything on air, and as a voice for the people, it’s my job to figure out how to do it effectively.
Who has been your favorite interview thus far? Do you have any industry influences (or people you have learned from)? If so, who?
Sisqo was my favorite interview thus far. It wasn’t my show, but the energy that he brought on-air was one of the best I’ve encountered. As for influences, I really respect Jimmy Fallon and Ellen. I watch them every night. And before I had my big live show on January 18th, I watched entire seasons of their shows for inspiration. I’ve learned a lot from watching them from techniques on how to ask questions and get the type answers you are looking for to ways to politely interrupt interviewees and simply ways to keep the audience engaged.
Some people measure success by materialistic items, but I think success is met at a place where you’re content with what you’ve accomplished, but have yet to settle.
In a world of over-saturated media, how do you approach captivating and keeping the listener’s ear?
I don’t care about the over-saturated media. I do the show because I love it, and luckily for me, most of the topics I want to discuss coincide with the things the audience want to hear about. What’s great is that the people who listen to my show, love and respect my opinion. They come to hear my take on certain things, and that’s a good feeling.
What was the idea or thought process behind having a consumer sponsored station and not looking for corporate sponsors?
I wanted to create a station that was different; a show that didn’t focus on discussing celebrities or gossip. I wanted to create something that was for the people, by the people. When people come on the show, they want me to promote their business and support their projects, so I figured, if the public wants my show to continue, the real fans will be willing to help keep the station alive.
What has been a setback or failure in your career that you’ve recovered from and what did you learn from those setbacks taught you?
When my contracts with BET and Radio One both ended on the same exact day. So basically I lost my job twice on the same day, I went from being famous to living back in my mother’s basement, and that was a huge reality check. I remember thinking ‘How could I be on two major networks and find myself unemployed?’ I was on BET for four years, but somehow I found myself lost and unemployed. You would think I would have a financial backup, I should’ve had people knocking at my door offering jobs, but I didn’t. From this, I learned the value in building something for myself something no one could take away from me. I learned to be an entrepreneur and a successful one at that. A good businessman always has more than one form of income that creates stability, which then ensures success.
I’m successful right now, but I don’t have millions. I’m successful because I’ve found happiness in what I’m doing.
At some point do you plan to branch out into other media outlets like television etc.?
I would like to be the next Chris Brown, mixed with a little bit of Jimmy Fallon, mixed with a little bit of TMZ. I want to be the new, young, late-night TV host, that’s poppin’! But at the same time, I’m a radio guy, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. Though I am currently working on a TV production, radio is something that’s a part of me. I’ll be a 90-year-old man still on-air!
What advice would you give to someone who has aspirations of beginning a career in radio?
Firstly, it’s important to invest in yourself! Get your own station. It’s an affordable project, sometimes costing less than $200 but most importantly, it’s a very proactive step toward your dream career. Next, study! Do your research, watch the greats and learn from both the people who succeeded and the people failed. Learn anything and everything pertaining to your craft! Also, find inspiration not only within your field but also from people and things outside of those boundaries. For example, I am not a politician, but I enjoy listening to President Barack Obama’s speeches. He has a way of saying some of the worst things in the best way possible. That is a skill I find very useful. Lastly, find multiple financial avenues.
Stay focused, but figure out cool ways to make money doing a wide variety of things in your career field. In simpler terms, don’t go out trying to find multiple trees to grow instead, pinpoint one tree that’s strong enough to deliver multiple branches.
SIR ANTHONY SPEASE IS IN THE 10TH…
Favorite way to relax?
I like to create the mood. I like watching TV and movies in a dark room with candles, incense, and hot tea. And when I’m not in the mood for that, I turn on 90s music.
If someone were to create a movie about you what would the title be?
‘Where the Struggle Ends’
If you could have lunch with anyone dead or alive, who would it be?
I would want to do lunch with Ellen. I like her energy, and I think I could learn a lot from her since she’s someone who has years of positive experience in my field.