Media Mogul DeDe McGuire Gives Us the Uncut Version of Where It All Began, Working in Radio as a Woman, and What’s Next for Her
Mornings without DeDe McGuire definitely wouldn’t be the same.
The broadcast baron has been unorthodoxly trailblazing her way through the world of radio and blowing up the entertainment scene for many years now… on and off the air.
A wise woman with a wild sense of humor, working in a man’s world, McGuire’s vigorous voice commanded the industry instantly. Giving us nothing less than her straight-to-the-point, what-you-see-is-what-you-get, innovative personality, the talking tycoon naturally stood out from the rest.
She took the wheel of what was once a male-led vehicle and drove fearlessly and forcefully through the doors of media, opening a whole new lane for women of color.
In a field where the female counterpart is often looked down upon, McGuire represented us in on a level that had no choice but to lift us up. With her steadfast ability to engage any audience and cut through the red tape of the business, she has righteously earned the title of ‘radio royalty’. Her hard work is admirable, as is her unapologetic approach to making an impact through every word that she speaks and every life that she changes. Be it with a microphone in her hand or a soundboard at her fingertips.
From serving as a co-host on The Doug Banks Show to now running her own nationally syndicated program, DeDe in the Morning, on Dallas-Fort Worth’s K104, McGuire continues to make mogul moves. She’s been seen on popular networks CNN, FOX, BET, Oxygen and even sat across from the likes of people such as Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, and The Carters, better known as Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
Additionally, McGuire has toiled to empower and encourage others through philanthropy, activism, and mentorship. By partnering with organizations geared toward the less fortunate (Women Called Moses, Dress for Success) and kicking off the DeDe McGuire Foundation, the award-winning host is definitely considered an inspirational pillar of the urban community.
A self-made heavy hitter and bonafide boss, DeDe McGuire is the light that just keeps on shining.
Check out our exclusive interview with the radio powerhouse below!
Parlé Mag: So, I wanted to take it back to the beginning for a second. Tell us a little bit about how you got your start in radio. Where did it all begin?
DeDe McGuire: When I first got a taste of radio, I was going to school in Killeen-Fort Hood, at a local community college, and working at a country radio station.
Parlé Mag: Oh, wow! Really?
DeDe McGuire: Yep! I was the receptionist at a country radio station, and that’s actually where they trained me to be on-air. I accidentally ended up on the air with the afternoon personality, and he was asking me some questions; we were bantering back and forth. The owner of the radio station’s wife heard me, and she said, “You guys need to train her!” And that was it. The rest is history! They trained me. I would train during my lunch hour. Sometimes, [I would] just go there on the weekends because I really wanted to do it. My name was going to be Misty Morgan, on a country radio station. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: That’s interesting! [laughs]
DeDe McGuire: I know, right?!
Parlé Mag: As a female breaking into such a male-dominated field, like the entertainment industry, would you say that made it more challenging for you? If so, why?
DeDe McGuire: Oh, it’s definitely challenging! When I started taking over mornings, which was like six, seven years ago, you could almost count on one hand how many women were the host of their own show, as opposed to being the ‘co-host.’ People used to say, back in the day, [women] were the “last box, the last track, the woman on the side.” You know? They called her “the sidekick,” as a matter of fact. You also saw that things started changing when they started making sure that they called us “the co-host.” You have a host, then you have a co-host. But, years ago, they used to refer to it as “the sidekick” and really diminished that role.
So, for me, it’s been difficult. There are a lot of stereotypes, with women. For a long time, they would say, “Well, you know, a woman doesn’t want to hear another woman in the morning, because it sounds like women cackling,” or all of this other kind of stuff. It’s been challenging, trust me.
Parlé Mag: That actually brings me to my next question. What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about women in media? And how do you hope to continue debunking those stereotypes?
DeDe McGuire: For a long while, of course, men would look at women as the ‘weaker sex.’ Truthfully, let me just break it down, in this country. When you start looking at the world and you start looking at prime ministers and presidents of other countries, you will find that they have women who have run their countries. It’s interesting, to me, that in the United States, we have yet to see that in 2019.
Parlé Mag: Right.
DeDe McGuire: You know what I mean? So, that just shows you that we may be a little far behind, and we’re lagging… in terms of what a woman can do.
Parlé Mag: Definitely!
DeDe McGuire: That, to me, is a clear indication. We’re still walking around saying “first.” Not only as African-Americans but as women, we’re saying the “first woman,” the “first this or that.” It’s crazy! So, I can certainly say that I think [people] aren’t quite aware of our strength. Our strength has nothing to do with muscle power; it has to do with the way we handle our audience, the way we handle problems, the way we get along with our staff, and the respect we get from our program directors.
Parlé Mag: A lot of people in this business often lose themselves or find it difficult to balance real life from their public persona. Throughout your career, how have you managed to sort of separate DeDe in the Morning from DeDe McGuire?
DeDe McGuire: Well, when I first got started in radio, we didn’t have as much social media. Social media wasn’t as big, so it was very easy to separate the two. You could have so much fun, and you could pick and choose what you wanted to talk about. Now, not as much as before, because if I’m out a concert and someone says, “Let’s take a picture,” everybody knows I went to the concert. If I’m out having dinner and they say, “Hey! We saw DeDe at dinner last night,” or whatever. So, it becomes a lot more difficult… in our social media world that we live in. But, I’m also one of those people who feel like I have nothing to hide. When you do this, it’s almost like doing a reality show. Do not get on a reality show if you’re trying to hide who you are!
Parlé Mag: Exactly!
DeDe McGuire: You have to be comfortable with who you are! Flaws and all, be comfortable with who you are and go for it. That’s me; I’m comfortable with my flaws and all, and I’m okay with it. There are only two things that I don’t talk about. I don’t really necessarily talk about my mom and her history, because one day, she said to me, “That’s my business; not yours.” Even though [her history] affected me, I have to respect that. Also, one time, I was joking about my husband–who’s younger than me–on the air, and I said, “Yeah, his mom and I went to school together. We graduated together!”
Parlé Mag: Oh, God! [laughs]
DeDe McGuire: I had somebody play the role of his mom. When I got home, he goes, “Okay, that’s off-limits. My mom is off-limits.” But, other than that, he doesn’t care. He has fun with it!
Parlé Mag: Being that the entertainment playground is so cutthroat and competitive, what has been your recipe for maintaining longevity?
DeDe McGuire: I would have to say, for me, first of all, I should’ve been a marketing major! I love marketing and PR; I really do!
Parlé Mag: Why didn’t you pursue it?
DeDe McGuire: I should have! I wanted to do journalism. I thought I wanted to be a news anchor; I went to school for that. Before I had to transfer to a local college, I went to Texas Woman’s University. We had financial issues, so I had to go back to the local college. But, yeah, I wanted to be a news anchor, and someone told me, “You’re too silly! You’re going to laugh on the air!” [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs]
DeDe McGuire: I would’ve done marketing, but because I didn’t get a chance to finish my education, I had to be creative to get people to pay attention to me. I had to make sure that when I sent my résumé and my tape in, I needed it to stand out from everybody else’s. So, I had to be creative and think outside of the box. I’m constantly trying to figure out, “How do I think outside of the box and stay relevant in this game?” I look at these celebs who do what they do. When you’re looking at a Beyoncé, a Jay-Z, or a Rihanna, you start seeing that they constantly evolve and diversify what they do. They’re giving us all a blueprint on how to do this. You have to grow, you have to change, and you have to challenge yourself. My mom used to always say that to me. She’d say, “When you reach a goal, set another one, and another one, and another one.” I’m like, “Thanks, Mom! I’m never satisfied now.” [laughs]
Parlé Mag: Well, that’s very true. You have to set those goals. In the end, that’s the only way you’re going to challenge yourself!
DeDe McGuire: My point!
Parlé Mag: Seeing where you are now, is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
DeDe McGuire: I wish I would’ve had kids; I do. I was scared. Because of this business, I’ve lived in San Antonio, Chicago, Philly, Dallas–
Parlé Mag: You’ve been all over!
DeDe McGuire: Right?! I was on a national show–now, my show is national, too–and I would travel a lot. I was scared to be a single mom. I was scared about uprooting my kid because I knew that this radio business was, and still is, crazy. So, I do regret that… sometimes.
Parlé Mag: When you look back, what would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned during your journey to success? And how has it affected the woman you are today?
DeDe McGuire: Gosh! There are so many. That one that I just told you about my mom. I also learned something from Doug Banks; he was one of the greats in urban radio. He and Tom Joyner are considered unbelievable! Fortunately, I got a chance to work with both of them, which was amazing. I watched them. I watched the way they handled their business, I watched the respect they got. They also had a work ethic that I admired, and they taught me how to do radio. They really did! I remember something Tom Joyner said to me one time; we were walking and we worked at ABC Radio Network. I was talking about this book. I was in a book club. It was about Madam C.J. Walker, the first Black millionaire. He goes, “I’m going to have to read that!” I said, “Oh, you like to read good books like this?” He replied, “I only like to read about those who have made it. You know, who made money and they were successful. You want to be successful? Read about how they did it!” I was like, “Wow! Great point! Good one.”
Parlé Mag: From your social media, it’s evident that you’re very passionate about women’s empowerment and making a change. Talk to us about the DeDe McGuire Foundation and why this particular mission was essential to you.
DeDe McGuire: My mother was young when she had me; she was sixteen. She had five kids by the time she was twenty-three. She didn’t get a chance to finish high school, so she went back. [After that] she went to get certified, and she became a real estate agent. Top-selling real estate agent, which is great. But, the reason that I did it was mainly because of her. It was also because I did work with domestic violence victims, for non-profit Women Called Moses, and I did some work with Dress for Success, too. The resonating comment, or narrative, that they all kept talking about was, “I stayed in relationships that weren’t good for me because I don’t have any skills; I have no money, and I need the money.” So, I started looking at that, and then I looked at the fact that, before she married my step-father, my mom was a single mom. My biological father died when I was six.
I looked up the statistics and almost eighty percent of minority households are single-family households, head by women. I was like, “There’s no way!” Then it hit me that if we want to change our children, change those kids’ lives, we have to change the moms’ lives, first, because she’s their biggest influence. She’s the one who’s also financially taking care of them, so if she’s educated, she makes more money, and she gets a better job. She can move to a better neighborhood. Once a mom is educated, eventually, she makes sure her children are, and it becomes important. So, when you do that, now, you’re changing a whole–
Parlé Mag: Generation!
DeDe McGuire: Exactly! Let’s say it’s that young single mom. Everybody gives scholarships to eighteen-year-olds. So, that eighteen-year-old goes to college, and she messes up. Maybe she got pregnant, maybe she had to go home and take care of someone. Now, she’s nineteen or twenty, and guess what the world says? “Well, you’re done.” She’ll never get another chance! And that’s not cool.
Parlé Mag: It’s not! It’s not fair either.
DeDe McGuire: You have to think about how young they still are! At the age of nineteen or twenty, they still have their whole lives ahead of them. So, give them a chance to go back! I have girlfriends who went back to school. They’re in their thirties and forties, and they went back to school to get their degree. Let’s help!
Parlé Mag: Where do you hope to see your foundation in the next five years?
DeDe McGuire: Well, I want it to be a full-fledged women’s empowerment foundation. I want to see it expand to different cities because my [radio] show is expanded as well. When I say “full-fledged,” I want to make sure that we have mentorship. Empowering a woman is not just about giving her a college education or a scholarship; it’s also empowering her about business, helping her get a business, giving her money to start a business, giving her money for daycare. Maybe she wants that, but she’s like, “I want to do better, but I don’t have anybody to help take care of my kids.” Maybe it’s about making sure that she has her clothes when she goes for an interview, showing her interview skills. Ways to empower her!
Parlé Mag: Yes! And that’s really important because the smallest things could discourage someone from wanting to do better and making the effort to do so.
DeDe McGuire: Oh, yeah! Before I started the foundation, I had a focus group with some ladies, and they were saying that their biggest thing was, they’d gone back to school, and they were trying and trying. Money was one of the issues, transportation, too, and then they’d say, “Well, I have people at home who aren’t motivating me. I need motivation.” So, I looked into that. They didn’t have a babysitter, and they needed daycare as well. It’s so compound, and I’m realizing that it’s more than just, “Here’s some money to go to college!” We have to make sure that they’re successful when they go.
Parlé Mag: What advice would you give a woman who’s struggling to find her voice?
DeDe McGuire: Sit still. Prior to me starting my foundation, people would say to me, “DeDe, you should start a foundation because you’re doing this and that.” I wouldn’t do it. I kept going, “No!” Because I needed to know that it was going to be authentic, and I would pray to God about it. “What do You want? What should I do?” One day, this just came to me, but I also sat still. I didn’t push the process; I didn’t force the process. I didn’t just jump out there.
Parlé Mag: You waited for the right time!
DeDe McGuire: Right! So, the biggest thing is to sit still. Another thing that I always tell people is to write down three goals. Three goals that you want to achieve in the next five years, write them down! That was the best thing somebody ever told me. I believe in vision boards, wholeheartedly.
Parlé Mag: It truly makes a difference when you actually get to see it!
DeDe McGuire: Yes! I was doing vision boards before they became popular, girl. [laughs]
Parlé Mag: [laughs] Say what?!
DeDe McGuire: I’ve been doing them for about fifteen years. I didn’t even realize, at the time, that I was visualizing myself in the position that I’m in now. When I was a receptionist at that country radio station, I didn’t have any money to go to lunch, and I didn’t have a car. There was a library around the corner from the radio station, and for lunchtime, I just needed to get out of the building. So, I would just go to the library, and I would look at magazines, do that kind of stuff. I would go, “I want to live there!” I loved Architectural Digest.
Parlé Mag: That’s a good one!
DeDe McGuire: I remember when I first got into radio, I would go into houses that were being built or model homes. I loved houses; as I said, my mom was a real estate agent. I would be like, “I’m going to have a house like this one day. I want a house like this.”
Parlé Mag: You spoke it into existence!
DeDe McGuire: I spoke it! I believe in that! Focus on what you want. I hate the word ‘don’t’. When I find myself saying it, I’m like, “No, no, no! Focus on what you want.” You have to say, “I want.”
Parlé Mag: The tongue is powerful.
DeDe McGuire: That’s what I’ve learned! There’s a book that I have, and it’s called The Game of Life and How to Play It. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it.
Parlé Mag: I haven’t, but that sounds interesting!
DeDe McGuire: That’s one of my favorite books! When I go on vacation, I have to re-read it all the time. It’s spiritually-based, and it really talks about the power of the spoken word and whatever you put out is what you’re going to get back in return. It talks about how you speak and everything else. Have you ever watched The Secret?
Parlé Mag: I’m missing out on all of the good stuff! I haven’t checked that out either, but I need to.
DeDe McGuire: Girl! Those are my two favorites that I have to re-watch and re-read.
Parlé Mag: When the mics shut off and the lights go out, what message do you want others to take away from DeDe McGuire and the work that she’s put forward?
DeDe McGuire: I want people to say, “She was real. She was funny. She was authentic. She was inspiring.”
Parlé Mag: Just by speaking with you for this short period of time, I can already tell that you’re funny and very inspiring!
DeDe McGuire: Aw, thanks! I am really funny.
Parlé Mag: What do you feel one needs to survive in the world of media? Any advice for those who aspire to enter this profession?
DeDe McGuire: Have balls of steel. [laughs] I don’t care if you’re a girl; have balls of steel! Believe in yourself, believe and know who you are and what you bring to the table, what you offer. Be smart because this is not a game. Everybody thinks that radio is fun, you’re going into the VIP section, you’re popping bottles, and you’re meeting celebs. But it’s a real, live business, and you have to take it that way. I tell people all the time, “I do not have a job; I have a career.” Now, there are some people who have jobs in radio, but a career has taken me all over. This is my career; this is what I’ve done all my life. Not only have I only done it in one spot, I’ve done it everywhere.
Parlé Mag: What’s next for you?
DeDe McGuire: Well, let’s just say, TV is on the horizon!
Parlé Mag: Okay, okay! Any details we can get on that?
DeDe McGuire: I can’t say anything about it right now! [laughs] It’s really in the early stages. I knew it was going to come. It’s not reality; they’ve knocked on my door so many times. I have interviewed for some dang reality shows a hundred times, and I’m still saying, “Nope!”
Parlé Mag: Ahhh, so you’ll never go into reality TV?
DeDe McGuire: I won’t say never, because I do see the benefit of it, but it’s not something, anymore, that I want. My endgame is not to be a reality star. It’s just the cattiness of it all, the nastiness. That’s not what I want to be perceived as or looked upon as.
Parlé Mag: Reality TV is definitely not what it used to be, so I can understand why it’s not a goal right now.
DeDe McGuire: It isn’t. But stay tuned! You guys will know what I have in store really soon.
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