Pay It Forward: The Kevin Nash Convo
Speaking with radio personality Kevin Nash founder of the Accelerated Radio School of Broadcasting
If you’re like me, you know Kevin Nash as the popular on-air personality at Los Angeles radio station KJLH. What I didn’t know was that Kevin is the founder and CEO of the Accelerated Radio Network and the Accelerated Radio School of Broadcasting. Kevin helps local middle schools and high schools in Los Angeles set up training programs for kids interested in radio station jobs. Kevin actually builds on-campus radio stations at participating schools and helps create a curriculum for students.
Kevin also has been involved in ministry and public speaking for most of his life. Kevin’s is an interesting story. I’m fortunate and grateful for Kevin making this interview possible.
What was your inspiration for started Accelerated Radio School of Broadcasting?
It’s always been a dream of mine to give back what has been given to me. I got my start in radio at 12 years old. I was brought to the radio station at 11 and I’ve always wanted to figure out a way to give this gift back. I initially attempted to start a radio broadcasting school for kids back in the nineties but it didn’t quite pan out the way I wanted. Then I got the opportunity again about six years ago and I had all my ducks in order, had the plan all written out and spelled out and met a couple of people who were instrumental in helping me get it started. They introduced me to a couple of school administrators and that’s when the Accelerated Radio School of Broadcast began about 6 years ago. So the inspiration behind it was just the memory getting started at it at an early age.. I figured if I could get started at that age and had a full time job on the air at fifteen, I might as well create some opportunities for the young folk who would be interested in broadcast journalism.
How did you get your opportunity at 12? How did that come about?
A neighbor of mine had his own radio show, “Gospel Train Part II”. It had been on the air for many years in Lake Charles, Louisiana. My family all listened to his Gospel show. I grew up listening to his show and pretty much all of southwest Louisiana tuned in to his show. He lived across the street from us. At the time, the guy that was engineering the Gospel programming on this station was 18 years old and he was getting ready to leave for college and they needed someone to engineer all those Gospel shows on Sundays from 6AM to Noon. He thought of me and took me under his wing at 11 and by age 12 I had the job, on the payroll.
Wow, that’s quite the responsibility for a 12 year old. Being ANYWHERE at 6AM is something a lot of ADULTS I know can’t do consistently.
Yeah, I was on the clock and was there every Sunday. Never missed, never late. I had my key to the station and everything. From the 12 years old to 18 when I left to go to college in San Francisco to study Communications. Three years into my stint in Louisiana, I got switched to the Urban Contemporary format.
That had to be quite the switch for you.
Well, the Gospel programming was only on Sundays in that 6-12 time slot. The station eventually changed music formats and the programming switched. So at 15 I got my first full time shift Monday through Saturday 7PM to midnight, as the on-air personality. From 10th grade through my senior year.
From there, you got more radio experience during college?
Well I got a few part-time gigs during that time. I worked at a station in San Rafel for a while and another in Oakland. I was working them both at the same time. One Adult Contemporary station and one New Age format. I was really getting my hustle on even back then. I always knew I wanted to do radio though. It was just in my blood. I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I worked at KMEL and KBLX also while in the Bay Area.
OK, on to the Accelerated Radio education program. How does it work? Are you working with L.A. Unified School District?
Not just L.A. Unified. I have a few L.A. Unified schools but I’m also in Long Beach Unified School District as well. How it works is I build full, physical radio stations on their school campus. In the beginning we had terrestrial signals which broadcast 5-8 miles in circumference of their school. Now, internet radio is so popular right now and you can reach a larger number of people. The students felt it was necessary and felt they were ready for a larger audience. So now they broadcast on the Accelerated Radio Network and we are in 110 countries. Now, these are actual, living and active radio stations broadcasting from these campuses. And I have them treated as such. They have to submit resumes to be school program directors, music director, station manager and such. So they run them like real radio stations. So not all kids are on the air. We have a promotions department and even an engineering department to teach the kids how to wire their equipment; how to put it all together. Anything that’s surrounding radio from sales to frequency, from promotions to marketing to branding. 100%. If they walk into a radio station with their resumes they should be able to get a job at any radio station.
What’s the criteria as far as their participation?
That’s really up to the schools. It’s based upon their GPA, of course, and their attitude but I leave that up to the schools to determine who participates in and with the program. I come out initially and make a presentation to the schools then they come up with their own incentives and their own criteria.
I know that you are a musician yourself. Are you still involved in music?
Yeah, I guess that’s just the Gemini side of me. I love everything to do with music. I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 years old. I put a few albums out. My first album came out in 1990 “Kevin Nash” an EP, another in ’92 called “Love You 9 Times” and I put one out called “A Love Beyond Space And Time” after my parents passed away in 2005. My folks died back to back; my mom first and 6 months later my dad passed away. Married 61 years. So it was therapy for me, putting together a project that was a testament to their love; how they made it work having 8 kids and enduring for so long. So that was the last release. As a matter of fact, something hit me a few days ago and I’m thinking of putting together a new album. A piano jazz project in the near future. I have my own studio so I can create when it suits me.
Ah, so you have your own facitlity?
I’m something of a technology geek so I’ve always been fascinated with electronics and how things worked. Having a studio and being involved in broadcasting just evolved naturally for me from a technology standpoint. From a software standpoint I use ProTools and Logic. ProTools mostly for voice overs and Logic for music projects. For the most part, the audience probably has no idea what we’re talking about but the musicians get it.
Tell me a bit about James Ford, the guy you credit with your career inspiration. Is this the guy that brought you on at your first radio station?
Yeah, I considered him my mentor and teacher. I also give him the title of institution for doing what he did for me. He made the initial introduction to the radio station and just took me under his wing. Not just in radio but in life. He was a popular man in all the churches and he had branded me “The Youngest DJ In Southwest Louisiana”. We used to go on the road and I found myself in church at least 4 or 5 times during the week. I felt that God had called me to preach so I began to preach too at the age of 8. While we were on the air he would bring me up front to sing or, if God gave me a special word to teach or preach at that age, I would do it. So he was truly my mentor, my teacher and dear dear friend of mine. I can’t thank him enough. And I never stop thanking him.
Tell me about your ministry. I know you do some outreach speaking and you’re involved with Heritage Music Foundation. How has that evolved?
Well, everything I do I consider a ministry. When I was growing up in Louisiana and got called to preach, I considered my service within the four walls of the church. Once I moved to California, I got a broader sense of what I was called to do. At first I thought I would have to leave the airwaves in order to pursue what God wanted me to do but God showed me in a number of ways that that is my calling, that is my platform, my pulpit. He wanted me to use the airwaves to make a difference. And that’s what I’ve done, man. I’ve been on the airwaves for 33 years now and I’ve used that platform to teach, to heal, to communicate and to learn wherever I go.
OK, here’s a question that I posed another minister recently that works in entertainment in a different capacity. Being an on air personality, on that booty call shift, so to speak, and being in such close proximity to the entertainment industry, how do you keep the lines defined and not blurred between all the trappings of celebrity and staying on the path of your ministry? Not necessarily the lines being blurred for you personally but for those who want to cross the line, etc.
I’mma be honest with you man, I’m not a perfect person. I’m not perfect at all. And I think that’s why I’m so transparent because I’m too flawed to floss or toot my own horn in terms of my walk and my spirituality. I know that we all fall short. I’m clinging to the blood of Christ just like everyone else. I get what you’re saying about the world. I have to say, I’m not easily enticed. Someone was hitting me up on Facebook saying I’m confused. Speaking on how, on the air, I’m promoting clubs and this and that. I told him that I’m not personally a club person. It takes a lot out of me to go to clubs because I’m basically a quiet person. I go because it’s part of my job and because the bible tells me ‘go ye forth and teach all nations’. I’ve led more people to Christ just having a Godly conversation while ungodly music is playing. So, we’re commanded and commissioned to go to these dark places and reach the lost. So I’m not easily enticed that way when it comes to women, when it comes to drugs. I’ve never taken drugs, alcohol.. none of that stuff has ever been my vice. At all. And I’m not bragging about it, that’s just how I am. I’ve never been a worldy person like that. I’m not impressed with bling bling. I’m just a plain old country boy, that’s it.
I’m not gonna lie about it, I love women. But a pretty face and a jacked up heart and personality is a no go. But I do have a soft spot for a good heart. I’m a sucker for good heart and a pretty face.
I think you spoke for about 99% of the population on that one. (Laughter) So back to building the radio stations on campuses, you’re pretty hands on?
Yes, that’s what I’m into I LOVE that process. That’s where I was earlier today, building a new radio station. And I mean hands on, physically with my drill and my saw. From the wood, to the wiring of it, the ordering of the equipment, what to purchase, I absolutely love it.
In the day to day instruction in the Accelerated Radio, who oversees or handles this at the schools?
I’ve got a few people under me. I hire people to teach the classes. I have a curriculum that’s spelled out, also printed handbooks for my instructors. So they teach our curriculum and, of course, we oversee the little kid Program Directors and the Music Director at each school. But I have two main people I call my right hand and that’s Erica Alexander and David Hernandez. At the actual office in El Segundo that serves as the hub where all the school shows are piped in, Erica is my Assistant Program Director. David is the Operations Manager for Accelerated Radio Network and the network really could not function day to day without them. They play a direct role in coordinating the programs we have in place at schools and help to make sure everything goes smoothly.
How many schools is the Accelerated program in currently?
We’re in fifteen schools now. And that’s mainly an issue of manpower on my part. When I say I’m passionate about this I mean it. So if it’s not done right we’re not going to do it at all. So the most I can manage personally at once is 4 to 5 so we’re up to 15 schools. Now with the Accelerated Radio Network, a separate entity from the Accelerated School of Radio Broadcasting, there are a lot more stations that are run and managed by adults.
Oh this is another training program?
No, this is a different animal from the school program. If you go to www.acceleratedradio.net you’ll find a bunch of radio shows we broadcast from our El Segundo facility. They range through all music formats and all walks… talk shows, Gospel, old school, public relations programming, etc. All these on-air personalities typically come in and do their shows live during their time slots. Some of the folks came on with no prior experience. They just learned everything on the fly on-site. How to become talk show hosts, how to produce their music shows. Some of them have large followings, up to 20,000 listeners per week. We’ve also started a new extension of the Accelerated Radio Network called ARP (Accelerated Radio Praise) which is a 24-hour Gospel network.
So are your stations available on iHeart Radio and other similar services?
Yes, you can find us on iHeart, TuneIn and our own Accelerated Radio app to take us with you mobilely.
So are there fees to be involved with the Accelerated Radio Network and have your own show?
Yes, there are nominal fees that the shows broker. I would love to give this service away for free if we could operate our facility for free but we do have overhead to keep the lights on, pay mechanical royalties, cover our lease, etc. But we have a beautiful, practically new facility and it’s run just like any other radio station so we incur costs. But you can see where the fees we charge are spent. And our shows have the option to broadcast from our facility or remote into the El Segundo office and be live on the air from wherever they are. They can still take call ins and respond real time so we take advantage of all of the current technological advances.
So I think I have plenty for an article. Do you have any parting shot that you would share with people interested in getting into broadcast journalism?
Absolutely. I would say that if you have a dream and a vision to get it done, I have to say God is a god of resource. We need to stop praying about it and begin to use the resources that God has provided. With that, technology is booming. Technology is ripe now to do anything you want to do. All you’ve got to do is put your mind to it. And don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Just use the tools available to get it done. If your dream is to become a jock, to become an on-air personality, to work behind the scenes, look us up. Our services and instruction are free, we’ll put you to work immediately.
Accelerated Radio Network contact info:
Option 2 - Assistant Program Director
Option 3 - Operation Manager
What Kevin brings to the table is nothing short of a blessing for the community. This training outlet for kids is something they would otherwise not have exposure to until much later in life. The Accelerated Radio School of Broadcasting gives kids an edge well before entering the radio job market and helps embed a love for the craft in their hearts at an early age. A note of thanks to Kevin Nash and the entire Accelerated School of Radio Broadcasting team. Please keep this program up. It can only do good.